If you feel like youʼve hit a wall with your songwriting, we’re giving you 7 ways to improve your songwriting skills.
Object writing is where you sit down and write about one object in your journal – using only sense-bound language. (Sight, smell, touch, sound, body, and motion.)
For example – if you’re writing about a train, you might write about how it feels when it rushes by you, what it looks like coming at you, or how the wheels sound on the steel track.
Youʼll be surprised at how much your songwriting improves with just 10 minutes a day of object writing.
Write a lot.
You’ll be quicker, better, and more original the more you write.
You can accomplish writing more by practicing something called free writing.
Freewriting is setting aside a block of time to spill out all your thoughts, emotions, and ideas onto paper. It’s called free writing because this writing is done without any critiquing or filtering.
Don’t worry about rhyming or grammar during this exercise, just write as much as you can in this time period.
Why does this work?
There is nothing that replaces simply getting the reps in. It’s just like going to the gym. The more you do it consistently, the easier it’s going to get!
Furthermore, the practice of writing without censoring will open up new avenues of creativity for you. There is nothing more limiting than the fear of failure or judgment. So spend time writing without those fears and see how your creativity flourishes.
One factor that can improve your songwriting more than anything else, is co-writing.
You can learn SO much from other amazing writers. Writing with other writers can be exciting, challenging, and even necessary for growth.
Learn to always strive to be the least talented person in the room. This can take swallowing your pride, but itʼs how you learn.
Co-writing is beneficial for you if you find yourself with tons of half-written songs that you’re stuck on completing. Or are looking for feedback on something you’ve started.
Maybe you’re in a dry spot lyrically and can’t seem to break out of your mold, writing with others can open your eyes to new ways to write.
When you co-write you get to witness an amazing lyricist bring magic to a phrase, a talented producer build a radio-ready track in 15 minutes, or an incredible singer crank out catchy melodies that get stuck in your head all day.
Co-writing is also helpful when you feel you have certain weak spots in different areas of songwriting.
For instance, maybe you are great with melodies and music, but it’s hard for you to come up with lyrics that do the song justice. Finding a co-writer who compliments you with a talent for writing lyrics can be a great solution for you both.
The point is: co-write as much as you can!
Listen to amazing music.
Not just the hot flavor of the week.
Listen to classics. Listen to timeless hits. There are hallmarks of hit songs that run through every genre.
Itʼs your job to be a student and to absorb as much of it as you can.
Listen to as many genres as possible.
Listen to Beethoven.
Listen to Michael Jacksonʼs “Thriller.”
Listen to The Beatles “White” Album.
Listen to Dolly Parton – listen to all of it.
Yes, itʼs good to listen to whatʼs hot right now, but itʼs even better to know how to write songs that will still be amazing 30 years from now.
Read incredible literature and watch inspiring movies
Start with the classics – Pulitzer Prize winners.
Read poems, magazines, and articles too.
Youʼll pick up song title ideas, imagery ideas, ways to create metaphors, and other lyrical tools that will help elevate and inspire your songwriting.
Pay attention to techniques like:
Reading can expand your vocabulary and imagination, making you a better songwriter.
The greatest songwriters know how to tell a story.
Try watching high-quality films and shows. I have written so many songs after watching an inspiring movie.
Just the mood or tone of a movie can spin off a whole album – there are artists who have made full records like this, just because they were so hot on Back To The Future or The Breakfast Club or another classic movie.
Documentaries are also great to watch because they inspire your curiosity. And curiosity is the key to staying fresh.
People value songs that make them feel something and that they connect with. Writing songs that truly connect with a person requires you to be open and vulnerable when you write.
Don’t be afraid to write from a personal place or about an actual event in your life. A lot of times you’ll be surprised how many others feel the same and needed to hear it.
Being vulnerable gives you an edge and rawness that captures a listener’s attention and emotion.
Show your personality. Speak like yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of sounding like anyone else. Even as you study the greats, always make it your own.
You are the greatest asset you can offer as an artist.
Lastly, Travel. Live. Take risks. Go on adventures.
Be a little dangerous. Go places youʼve never gone before. Meet people youʼve never met before. Do things youʼve never done before.
Majority of US citizens still donʼt have a passport, or crazier yet, have never left their hometown.
You get inspiration from living life.
Go to the museum
Take a hike
Travel the country
Take on new hobbies
Face a fear
As you continue to grow in life, The songs that you mayve written in the past, will have no depth compared to the ones you’ll write next.
Keep living and see how my songs continue to improve – as you learn and see even more.
There are a ton of other ways to improve your songwriting skills, but weʼll leave you with this:
The biggest key is to make yourself a perpetual learner. When you get too comfortable, shake things up.
If you are sitting still and not improving, youʼre going to be moving backwards.