Songwriting Tips for The Soul

They say to write what you know, so I thought that for this week’s installment, I would share some songwriting tips for the artists out there.

As a child, I was always exposed to music, dancing, and singing. In the car it was Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette, or Springsteen if I was with Dad. At Grandma’s it was Elvis, Cher, Reba McEntire, and classic Rock ‘n’ Roll. I read, and was read to, a lot, and I became familiar with words and writing styles. Songwriting is probably my longest standing passion. I remember writing my first song when I was 7 years old.   

These are my tips if you want to become a better writer:

Tip #1.Read more.

Tip #2. Listen to music, always.
Your brain will start to form patterns without you noticing.

Tip #3. Don’t limit yourself.
Don’t try to only write songs. I’ve written short stories, poems, articles, journal entries, blogs… the list goes on. If you want to become a better songwriter, don’t limit yourself to just writing songs. Some feelings come out better in different mediums, but once you start exploring it, you’ll open a door that’s hard to close. Notes and Voice Memos on your phone are your new best friends. I’ve had lines in my Notes for 6 months before I found the song that went with it. All because something came into my head once when I was in the middle of something else. Anything that sounds remotely poetic, probably is, so…

Tip #4.Write it down.

Get a notebook and a pen. If you’re at home, use this instead of your phone. Trust me. If there’s something I’ve realised about many artists, is that we’re our own worst critics, we are perfectionists, and we don’t think anything we do is good enough. Collectively, we need to stop this. Write crap. Write down anything and everything you think about. When I started doing this, it freed me. You don’t have to do things in order, either. Just get it down.

Tip #5. There are no rules.
Your song can change tempo mid track. It can go for 10 minutes, with 7 verses. It can switch language halfway through, if you’re lucky enough to be bilingual. It can be about anything. When you produce it, you can fine tune and polish it. When you’re writing, just be a creative mess. Your first draft usually won’t make it onto the album, so take the pressure off.

Tip #6. Make it up.
If you’re lucky enough to never have gone through any shit in your life, congratulations. But, unlucky for you, you’re probably not furious or numbingly sad enough to write anything good, so it’s gonna be a bit harder. You’re going to have to come up with some characters, and write about them. I started doing this when I found myself in a really happy place in my life recently, and noticed that my happy songs weren’t as good as my sad songs. Which sucks. But not a terrible trade-off in the grand scheme of things.

Tip #7. Don’t use Writer’s Block an excuse.
I went through high school where I barely wrote a song, and I blamed the Block, when in reality I was just busy doing high school kid things and wasn’t thinking about it. I wasn’t trying to write, so of course I didn’t. When I finally got back into it, I was rusty. It didn’t come back straight away, and I was hard on myself about it. But the more you do something, the better you get at it. There are studies that prove this, so just focus on quantity, not quality, and you’ll soon be getting both.

Write anything and everything. Collaborate, get feedback, but most importantly, just feel it. At first, try and write about things you care about. You’ll get there, and in the meantime, feel free to email me at alex@marshallstreetstudios.com to chat, ask questions, or offer suggestions for future blog posts – I’d love to hear from you!

‘Til next time,

Al

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