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The Worst Way to Write a Song

Songwriting can be easier! Almost every songwriter starts writing songs in the worst way possible... learn an alternative way to write better songs!
Worst Way to Write a Song, Finger Pointing with Flames in Background, Learn a Better Way to Write Songs, Songwriting Tips that Actually Work

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Just because you managed to finish the song before you gave up on it, doesn’t mean you’re writing songs to your full potential!

You’ve written songs with mixed results… 

Let me guess, it went something like this:

(By the way, I call this: the worst way to write a song!)

You get an idea, a few words or a phrase that sound promising.

You mess around with it and come up with a nice tasty line.

You know you need a rhyming line, so you play with the last word and come up with a line to finish the first line.

So you’ve got a couplet, two lines that fit together.

Now what? Obviously you need to finish the song section you’ve started so you do it again… bashing around a few ideas until you find a line you like. Then you come up with a perfect rhyme for another answering line.

Now you’ve got four lines, a pair of matching couplets with similar rhythms and rhymes.

So what’s the title?

What’s this song really about?

What do I say next?

Is this song section even any good?

This is the worst way to write a song!

Let’s build you a better songwriting process…

Below the video lesson is a written transcript and bonus ideas and links to other songwriting resources to help you improve your songwriting process!

Begin Video Transcript

The Worst Way to Write a Song…

So you’ve tried writing songs and had mixed results… 

let me guess, it went something like this:

You get an idea, a few words or a phrase that sound promising.

You mess around with it and come up with a nice tasty line.

You know you need a rhyming line, so you play with the last word and come up with a line to finish the first line.

So you’ve got a couplet, two lines that fit together.

Now what? Obviously you need to finish the song section you’ve started so you do it again… bashing around a few ideas until you find a line you like. Then you come up with a perfect rhyme for another answering line.

Now you’ve got four lines, a pair of matching couplets with similar rhythms and rhymes.

So what’s the title?

What’s this song really about?

What do I say next?

You’ve got no direction and aren’t even sure if you’ve written a decent song section.

So you do it again for another song section and this goes on until either you give up or you actually finish the song. 

You end up with a chorus you like and a couple of verses that sort of make sense, and the song is okay but you’re not really sure what’s wrong with it or how to make it better…

Don’t Feel Bad… This is Normal!

Why We All Try to Write That Way, The Worst Way to Write a Song

This is normal, every songwriter starts with the “trial and error until I give up or finish” method because nobody explained a better way

It’s natural to assume that you start writing at the beginning because that’s how you hear songs.

But this is the worst way to write songs. You’re making a fundamental mistake, you’re choosing a moment in the song and trying to find an idea that fits there. 

There’s an old expression, you can’t see the forest for the trees… that means you can’t see the big picture because you’re lost in the details. Let’s get you out of the trees and writing from the big picture. Because there is a better way.

I Wrote Like This Too (Until I Found a Better Way to Write Songs)

I was writing like that myself. Honestly, it’s how I started. But I was guessing my way through the maze of songwriting decisions hoping to finish before I gave up. It wasn’t working for me.

There is a Better Way to Write Songs

What I’m about to tell you was a game changer for my songwriting. 

Start with Song Ideas First, Stop writing using the worst to write songs

Imagine this. It’s a little counter-intuitive, but follow me….  You start with the big idea or the title and then explore possibilities… but you don’t write lines yet. You just write down ideas and fragments. You see, creativity isn’t linear, it doesn’t work in a straight line. Creativity seems chaotic and sometimes it feels random. You can take advantage of this, by writing ideas as they come. The trick is not putting them in order right away. In fact you don’t even think about whether the ideas are any good until later.

You flip the worst way to write a song around… Instead of working on one spot in the song and trying to write an idea that fits there, you start with the ideas. Brainstorm and just write ideas, later you pick the best ones and decide where to put them in the song. Writing rhyming lines comes after that.

The Better Way to Write Songs

Write Song Ideas Then Create the Story and Then Outline The Song, Stop writing using the worst way to write songs

The short version of my songwriting process goes like this:

Brainstorm ideas, come up with a title, concept or interesting inspiration. If you’ve hit on a great line you’ve already done this step.

This is the change, then you brainstorm your best song idea for 5 to 10 minutes.

Next, stop and go back and edit, choosing the best ideas.

Brainstorm a story for the song, just ideas. When you’ve got the pieces, edit them and put them in order.

Next choose which parts of this story go into each song section, so you have an outline of the verses, pre-chorus, chorus and the bridge.

Once I’ve organized my song and got my forest figured out it’s time to plant the trees by working on the lyrics.

I’ll  work through the song and write a draft, then play with it and improve it before calling it a final draft.

So the difference is: you start with your ideas, THEN decide where to put them!

Does that make sense? 

Instead of starting at ground level in the trees, messing around with one single idea… start with the big picture of the forest, then zoom in and write lots of ideas and then save the weaker ideas for another song.

From the big idea you gradually narrow it down to the best ideas for this song and then decide where to put them. You get to choose from more ideas than you need instead of fighting to find the one idea that might fit in this one spot in the song.

Still with me? Good!

Write ideas then start writing the lyrics, Stop writing using the worst way to write songs

There are many advantages to writing from the Big Idea:

1. Your song is stronger because you’ve organized the song to follow a solid story instead of making it up as you go.

2. You don’t get stuck when you can’t find the next line, find somewhere else to work for a while.

3. You stop writing boring, predictable rhymes because you’re trying to jam ideas together.

Start with the Big Picture of your song not the details, Stop writing using the worst way to write songs

This Isn’t Just for Lyrics

You can do this with other musical elements, too. For example when you’re writing a chord progression, instead of starting with the first chord and fumbling around for the next chord and the next next chord…. You pick a key and some chords, play around with them and use the best ones for the chord progression. Take your ideas and toss them around, shake them up and find the best combination for this song.

Try Writing Songs Like This…

Start from the Big Idea instead of at the start of your song, Stop writing using the worst way to write songs

Let me say it in a different way: 

Start with the big idea and brainstorm as many ideas as you can, then choose the best ideas and decide where to put them. Stop trying to write a song the way your audience hears it, from the beginning to end… 

You’ll thank me! 

Your Next Step

Your Next Step to Keep Improving Your Songwriting Process, Stop writing using the worst way to write songs

This is the process I teach in the Ultimate Songwriting Jumpstart. If you can play songs, you can learn to write songs with the musical skills you already know. You learn strategies to write the lyrics, melodies, chords and arrangement to your songs. Go from “what do I write about?” to “check out my new song!” Follow this link to learn more.

If you learned something from this video, like it (or share this article with someone who could learn from it). Check out this playlist for more songwriting videos to help you write and finish songs you’re proud of. Thanks for watching, I’m Trevor Dimoff, I transform musicians into songwriters at EpicSongWriting.com… 

Now go write some great song ideas instead of trying to fake your way from the start straight through to the end of a song…. 

End Video Transcript

Bonus Songwriting Help

How to Write a Song Chorus

Learn to write the lyrics and music to a song chorus!

Click and enter your email address to get it straight to your inbox…

Leave a comment to help other songwriters…

What counter-intuitive steps have you found to improve your songwriting?

Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff has taught, played and written music professionally for the last 25+ years.
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If you can play songs,

you can learn to write songs…

Learn:

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If you can play songs,
you can learn to write songs…

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