How To Write A Song For Beginners – A Step By Step Guide To Becoming A Songwriter

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How To Write A Song For BeginnersEver wondered how to write a song? Want to write better lyrics but don’t know how? Well today I’m going to share with you some of my best songwriting tips, so you too can put together a professional sounding song.

Writing a good song is a skill. With enough practice anyone can write one, but with the right technique and imagination you can create a master piece. While the imagination side of things is largely down to you (Although we give you some ways to generate ideas later in this step by step guide), the technical side of things is where we can help you out.

In all honesty, there is no one way to write a good song. Everyone has had different experiences, emotions, and beliefs, and all of these things will play a big part in the way you put it together. That said, there are certain best practices you can follow to make the most out of your songwriting process. This is what we hope to pass on to you today; proven techniques that will have you writing better songs each and every time.

This guide will help you no matter what genre of music you make, and whether you want to write lyrics as a singer, or write rap lyrics to a hip hop beat. Either way, these tips should be relevant for you.

So, let’s look at how to write a song. If you enjoy this article, please share it via social networking sites as a thank you, and / or link to it from your own site.

Note: This article was written by Jason from beat makers online, and Shaun Letang from Music Industry How To. If you want to contribute a guide, you can do so here.

* The above video is an audio version of half of this guide. To see the full guide, read to the bottom of this post.

Different Approaches On How To Write A Song

Different approaches to songwritingOk, before we go into the technique of putting your lyrics together, we need to look at the different approaches we can take to song writing. There are two main ways you can go about doing this:

  1. Writing lyrics first then finding a instrumental to match it after, or
  2. Writing to a pre-made instrumental or beat.

Both methods have their pros and cons. For example, the first methods means you can write lyrics no matter where you are, which of course is a good thing. All you need is somewhere to write the lyrics down (So you remember them later), and the motivation to create a great song. And if you have a smartphone, you can use a notepad app to write your lyrics on the move. You can then match your lyrics to a beat later on, or simply sing or rap them acapella to your audience.

This method can be very handy, as many song writers get inspiration at the weirdest times. You could be sitting on a bus and get an idea for a song, or you could be half asleep and suddenly jolt awake as you think of a epic chorus. Of course, in these instances it’s not really practical to bring out your music player and start finding a backing track to write to.

When inspiration hits like this, it’s often a better idea to simply write down your ideas on your phone or on a bit of paper, and finish it off later when you are in a better position to do so. This is why many song writers walk around with their note pad to take down any lyric ideas that come to them.

The downside to this methods however can be finding the right backing track after. It can occasionally (Not always) take a while to find the perfect instrumental to fit with your lyrics, so bare this in mind if you decide to take this path.

The other option is to find a beat first, then write lyrics over it. If you want to develop the skill of writing lyrics to a song, you need to pay close attention to the melody or rhythm of the backing track in question. If you have a beat or instrumental you want to write something to, you need to play it and listen to it for a while.

Get a good feel for the song, and allow inspiration for ideas to enter your mind. You should try to make the lyrics you’re writing down connect with the way the instrumental makes you feel. The more feelings and emotions you inject into your lyrics, the better the song will usually turn out.

Some musicians however, find it hard creating lyrics like this. If you’re having troubles using this method, a good idea is to think of a subject for your song first, then write to the beat once you have a subject matter firmly in your mind. This will then allow you to focus only on writing lyrics around this theme, and writing to the same speed and structure of the backing track.

You don’t have to stick to just one of these two strategies, you can try both and see which one works best for you. I know people that use both methods at different times, so don’t feel you have to just stick to one.

Songwriting Tips – Coming Up With A Subject For Your Lyrics

Coming Up With A Subject For Your LyricsComing up with a subject for your song is the first thing you should aim to do before you write a song. While it’s not 100% essential, it’s often a good idea to have our song following a rough subject matter which our listeners can relate to.

Many songs don’t have a set subject matter, and can still do well if they’re catchy and appeal to a specific target audience. That said, choosing a subject matter will make things a lot easier for you when it comes to writing song lyrics. It’ll also mean that your fans will be able to connect with your song on a deeper level, as they will be able to relate to what you’re saying.

There are a few ways to come up with ideas for your song. Firstly, you can build on from a line that you have already created. You may have written down a line in a moment of inspiration, and you may find you can create a whole song around the theme of that line. This is often the easiest method, as you most likely have feelings about this subject if you’ve started writing about it.

A second method is to decide you want to write about a specific subject, and go on to create your lyrics from there. So for example, you may decide you want to write about something because it’s an experience you’ve been through before. Or you may see something you have an opinion on / think will make a good song, and write about it accordingly.

A final option is to get inspiration from a backing track. Sometimes when you listen to a beat, you will start to get ideas for what a song should be about. Ideas will flow to your mind, and you can pick one of these and build out the song from there.

Once again, all of these methods can be used by any one musician. You don’t have to pick one method for how to write a song, you can use the various different techniques at different times.

Once you have a subject, let’s look at the lyric writing. We don’t want basic or childish lyrics, so this is something we’ll need to practice on.

How To Write A Chorus For A Song (Creating The Hook)

Tips For Writing Lyrics For A ChorusIf you are a beginner songwriter, the easiest way to start writing your own songs is to begin with a hook (Also known as the chorus). If you’re writing to a beat, you will want to listen to it for a while, and begin writing down everything that starts coming to your mind. These will usually be a line or two of lyrics, or a set melody structure you can write to. Once you have brainstormed a few ideas onto paper, you will hopefully have a stand out idea you can base your chorus around. If not, continue with this process until you do. You can get some ideas on being more creative with your songwriting here.

You may also find you have written more then one idea for a good chorus. If this happens, pick the one that is most suited for this song, then save the rest for other future songs you write. That songwriting tip will mean that you are already ahead when it comes to creating a new piece, and will make the song writing process a lot easier the next time around.

Developing a good chorus is critical when it comes to making good songs, because the chorus is what connects each verse to one another. While it doesn’t need to rhyme, it will need to be catchy, and instantly grab the attention of people that hear it. While there are some exceptions to this rule, writing catchy choruses are often the way to go.


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P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and make people WANT to hear it. Want to learn how to do that? Then check out our music marketing training here. A fool proof guide on how to get people to listen to your music.

Comments

  1. wan mohd romzan (mr.j) says

    truly agree with all the ideas n ways y’all posted about “writing a good song” .
    bottom line for me is to try to be able to be as flexible as possible ! .

    • Shaun Letang says

      Good stuff Wan, great minds think alike right. ;)

      Flexibility is very important when it comes to song writing. Sometimes you may want to say something, but have to word it differently so it flows with the rest of the song.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. sarah says

    well this is a little compilcated for a beggnier because i want to write a song but this is a little compilcated but it is very good advice for everyone i would say but a little less understood for beggniers

    Sorry,
    a reader of your website.

    • Shaun MIHT says

      Hi Sarah, sorry to hear that. What did you want to know about the songwriting process that you’re not clear on? Let me know and I may do a follow up post simplifying it for you and others.

  3. RandyMusic says

    Hi, my name is Heba and I am eleven years old and I found this very helpful. Anyway, next year, in my school their going to do a Talent Show and I want to make a beat of my idea,but I don’t know how. Could you please tell me how? And is beat have to be repeated?

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Heba. Your best bet is to get a beat from someone who already produces, as this’d mean you can get a good quality beat quickly. You can find music producers on forums related to your genre.

      If you do want to make your own beats though, the following guide shows you where to get cheap music production software which you can use to make them. Good luck at your talent show, let me know how it goes. :)

  4. Devan says

    Hi Shaun, I just wanted to ask If you can use the same beat from another song you like? I’m not going to completely Copy it, Its just hard for me to make a melody for the song since i don’t know how to play any instuments. I’m starting to get interested in writing songs. Melodies and tempoes are not my thing. Thanks for the help =)

    • Shaun Letang says

      It’s possible to get your album into stores yourself Angel. You’ll need to build your name up to a good level to get into some of the bigger stores though, and it will cost money to get the units pressed up and all the CDs distributed. If you want a cheaper way of getting your music out there, you may want to use a digital distributor like Songcast to get your music on iTunes, Amazon MP3 etc. This is recommended when you’re starting out.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Rebecca. It’s best to start off with something you feel strongly about at the time. Are you thinking of love? Of annoyances with work or school? Of how you want to be the best person you can be? What ever it is, start there, and write down those feelings to make a song which genuinely represents you. Good luck. :)

  5. Kerry-Anna says

    I have been writing songs for 10 years and recently had a tragic experience in which my fiance’ of 4 years broke up with me. I was so depressed and wanted to write it all down, but I had writers block. This article got me out of rut! Thank you

    • Shaun Letang says

      Wow, sorry to hear about your ex fiance’ Kerry. Glad to hear the guide’s got you out of your rut though, hopefully expressing your feelings through song writing will help you cope with the break up that bit better. All the best with your future.

  6. steph says

    Hi im a beginner in songwriting i have some titles but cant think of anything… some of them are Im dieing, tears, read my mind. Here is a little bit that i have come up with -your on my mind your in my thoughts your in my prayers. Hope you can help.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Steph. Your best bet is just to think of a subject close to you, that you have a lot of opinions on. Then record yourself for five minutes talking about this subject. All different areas of it. Or if it’s something you think about a lot but don’t know everything, also ask question in there then try and give your view whether right or wrong.

      Once you’ve done that, listen back to it and make a song out of some of the things you’re saying. All the content will be there, you’ll now just have to structure it so it sounds good together. Good luck. :)

  7. Cassidy says

    Hey! I’m going to make a song for a talent show, and I want to sing a fast love song, but I don’t have a beat. Is it boring without a beat? I can’t play any instruments, so this is going to be difficult.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Cassidy. Going acapella (Without a beat) can be good if you’ve got a good voice. That said, getting a beat isn’t a bad idea either. You may even want to start out by doing the first verse acapella then the rest with a beat.

      With regards to getting a backing track, have a look on https://soundcloud.com/ and search for the kind of beat you want. Get in contact with the producer, tell them you’d like to use their beat for a talent show, and see what they say. Furthermore, some producers put their beats up for anyone to download, so if you can find one of those, use that. That’s the quickest way to do things.

      Good luck at your talent show, let us know how you do. :)

  8. Mike says

    wow, this is seriously helpful, but do you have any ideas for how to keep the chorus to fit the verses? Sometimes i find it hard to keep a consistent “theme” and the chous won’t always fit in with the verses, as a result! (as I play with a guitar, the strumming patterns can end up being disrupted, too)

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Mike. One idea is to write the chorus first. Have this include your main point, then elaborate on the point in the verse. That should work.

  9. says

    Hey my name is glenn and I’m 13 I have always been wantin to write a song bout how much I love this girl. She has helped me through a lot so I thought I should give somethin back. I don’t know how to start. If there’s anyway people can help plz let me know and I don’t know wat I should put in my lyrics. I need bad help. Oh and I’m hopin I can make it sound country

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Glenn, that’s really sweet. Your best bet would be to write down how you feel about her, and turn that into song. So mention how she helps you, how she makes you feel, and how you’d help her out. From there match it to a country instrumental, and make it flow with the track. If it’s your first time writing a song, maybe use the same melody as another song. Good luck. :)

    • Tacey says

      Every Glenn I know is so sweet! You remind me of my brother (whose name is Glenn). When your singing it hold out the second vowel sound and it will sound more country. If you hold out the first it will seem more classical.

  10. Gabriel says

    I am a guitar player, in the process of learning bass, and I wanted to write a few songs to play. I have found this very helpful, thanks!

    Anyways.. I have a couple songs written already, but I am not sure how they would sound in front of a person, plus I am way to scared to perform in front of anybody. My point is.. I need some help with stage fright. I can’t even play in front of myself, I might sound like a total wuss, but do you have any tips? Just curious?

  11. Khushi says

    Hey :) Recently, I have got really interested in writing songs (otherwise, Im a dancer), but I cant think of a theme or topic. I keep geting confused that whether i should write it on myself, or my parents or my friends…and also Im jst 13! So please can you help me out? Thanks :)

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Khushi. Read the above comments as in a few I give advice on picking a song subject to write about. Good luck. :)

  12. Lil Brother says

    Hey guys I’m Lil brother… and I have some suggestions for you… to make a song

    First Off Big Props To our guy Shaun Letang for taking the time to discuss this topic….

    Thank You Shaun!!!

    Some words of wisdom…

    Just let go and let flow.

    Record or write it all down just keep flowing.

    Then go back and tweak you r work…. and above all else… let no shatter your dreams….. just do it and do it right the first time and and enjoy the ride.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Thanks for the props Lil Brother, and thanks for the additional advice. I’m sure some of the readers will find it useful. :)

  13. Jacob Mckendree Simpson says

    Hi Shaun, incredibly helpful tips above thank you! I’m planning to jump into College in a few months to become a music producer & with my passion for music I want to be as successful as I can, and obviously the job will not only require a knowledge of songwriting but I’d love to know personally as well just to help my own music.

    I’m really just starting to take a step in songwriting but I’ve often realized that my work looks clumpy and a bit simplistic and childish. It’s not that I’m worried it wont change but I would like to know what kind of tips you might have as far as critiquing your work and helping it come along more smoothly. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    • Shaun Letang says

      One of the most important tips I can give you is this: Not every line in your songs has to rhyme with the next, as long as your lyrics ‘flow’.

      One of the biggest reasons for lyrics sounding childish and basic is because people try and find matching / rhyming words too much. This isn’t necessary to write a good song, if fact sometimes it’s best to have the lyrics make sense and have real meaning instead.

      As long as the lyrics don’t sound awkward on the ear when put to a beat, just say what you feel. You’ll find this gives you less ‘young’ sounding lyrics, and will open you up to writing a whole new style of song. Give it a try. :)

  14. Leon says

    Hey Shaun I’m Leon and I’m 10 i want to make a love song for this girl I like and I’m just not creative I need help thanks.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Leon. A good idea is to listen to other love songs out there and learn their lyrics. You’ll start to see how they’re put together, and it’ll help you discover what’s possible. The more you do this, the more creativity you’ll start to get.

      Being creative doesn’t come overnight, but listen to more songs and keep trying new lyrics out. Even if they don’t sound good at first (Any you try and write), you’ll find as the weeks and months go on you’ll become better. It may sound like a long process, but you’re young, and in a year or two with enough practice you’ll be a really creative lyric writer. :)

      Good luck with your song, I hope it goes well.

      P.S. Check out some of the above comments I left for more song writing tips.

  15. callmeLARK says

    Hi. I am 13 and I wanna write a song. No duh. Yet I’m stuck! I have one its called relay race. It goes-my heart skips a beat wonderin’ why my feet, can’t touch the ground im spinning round and round and round, wheres the finish line now? I have a melody for that much but im stuck for the rest of the words and melody. Help! I also have titles for other songs. Some of them are: gone, darkness, invisible, dance, and bewitching lullaby. What do you think?

  16. Patrick says

    Hi I’m having some trouble with ideas for a song that I want to write. It would really help if I have a line, topic, or even a beat. So please try to respond to me by my email or on the website when you have time. Thank you.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Patrick. Have a look on SoundCloud, on there you’ll find producers which will let you use some of their beats to write to. Topic wise, just talk about whatever is on your mind. It could even be a song about writing a song if you’ve got a lot of thoughts on that. :)

      Good luck, and check the other comments for more ideas for what to write about.

  17. nur says

    Hey Shaun, There’s something I need to ask. Umm, I’ve been writing a lyrics for a couple of days, but still didn’t work on me. I just don’t know how to make a smooth line,the flow like I wrote this “I am a teenager who has such a big dreams? ” I dunno whether its true or not. Dear Shaun, please help me :/

    • Shaun Letang says

      Keep going Nur, it can take a while before everything flows properly. Your first line is something to build on and I’m guessing it is true. :)

      So now, think of a word that rhymes with ‘dreams’ and put it at the end of the next line. For example:

      “I am a teenager who has such big dreams,
      I’ll aim for the top ’cause I have the means…”

      And go from there. The end of the next line could either rhyme with that one or start a new rhyming word every two lines. Good luck. :)

  18. Tiana says

    Hello! I am Tiana, a 14 year old girl. I always wanted to get into the music industry as a songwriter or participate.

  19. Tacey says

    So I can get the whole background thing okay, but I struggle with getting the melody right. (I am trying to do this thing from scratch) Any help or tips I can use. And I always feel like I am copying it from another song. How can I get my original song to sound even more original? I would appreciate it if you helped this poor 15 year old. Thanks!

    • Shaun Letang says

      The best way to write original lyrics is to brainstorm random words and subjects, then write to those. Even if you don’t end up using those songs, it’ll help you think outside the box and allow you to write more original lyrics in future. I’ve added more ideas for original lyrics and melody above, so have a look. :-)

    • Shaun Letang says

      I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some. There’s a post on Music Marketing World about where to get your music reviewed, go on that site and search it using the search form.

  20. Silver says

    Can someone please help me im trying to write a Christian song because my grandfather passed a few days ago and im trying to write a song to remember him by can i have any ideas please im only a 15 year-old boy also Silver is my nickname

    • Silver says

      Please answer me with my email i am currently in school and look at my email every day around 4 EST so if anyone has any ideas to help like lines, lyrics, a beat, or anything it would be a great help

    • Shaun Letang says

      Sorry to hear about your grandfather Silver, that’s really sweet writing a song for him. It needs to be a song coming from the heart though, and isn’t something people can help you with lyrics wise. Beast wise have a look on SoundCloud for one to use. Good luck putting together something that really means something to you.

      • Cate Sinclair says

        I want to write a country LOVE song for my boyfriend and he doesn’t like country what should I do. Also I need help coming up with ideas for some song lyrics anybody

  21. Clayton says

    I am a music fanatic, but don’t play any instruments. Just recently writing a song came to mind. Is it possible to write a song and have someone else sing it?

  22. FrankieLew says

    Also wouldn’t be a bad idea to touch up on some vocabulary. Enhancing that can expand your writing lyrically providing deeper meaning, and creating more options for rhyme execution. Alliteration always sounds pretty chill in raps. Be confident too. You have the opportunity to express yourself in your own way which makes you happy, good vibes!!

  23. Sunyoung Lee says

    Thank you a lot for your article Shaun and Jason. You helped me. I took a note while reading it. I’ll return to it occasionally to check your tips again. And now I will move to marketing tip. Have a great day!

    • Shaun Letang says

      That’s really good to hear Sunyoung, I’m glad it was helpful. There are other singing related guides on this site as well, so have a look around and see if you find anything else useful. Enjoy the rest of your day.

  24. Tanner Keast says

    Hi, I’m Tanner and I’m 10 years old and I found this very helpful. Infact, I wrote a Love song called “Love Me Baby”. I think it’s pretty darn cool!!!!!!!!

  25. Yale says

    I love to write songs since I was a little girl and I believe anyone can become a song writter and become a star.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Anyone can write a song if they practice enough, becoming a star it harder but it can be done with enough talent and determination! :)

  26. Sophia says

    That is good advice but i want to know if this chorus would work
    why would i wait for you
    when all you have done
    is make me think
    that you could possibly
    love me for me

  27. deja says

    Yeah a wrote a song for a boy I like and in a part of it it says do you want to go out with me. And guess what he said YES thanks this website got me da love of my life ;P

  28. deja says

    Believe this in the past hours a wrote 5 songs: Who is he, Nature, We are not so perfect, Love, Honestly and fire. This is one of the best websites ever thanks Shaun Letang you are the best ever song writer I know and once again you the man.

  29. Clp says

    If I want a catchy song and I can’t think of a theme/subject how do I get one without it being silly, can you give me a theme/subject.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Common subjects are love, money, having fun, and random subjects. You can make a song about anything catchy, it’s more about how you do your vocals. Catchy songs usually have repetitive choruses or rhyme / flow well.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Lenny. Look in the sidebar of this site (Left) and you’ll see a guide which shows you how to make a website quickly and easily. :)

  30. says

    Hi! My name is Bella and I am 13 years old! I am writing a song for my boyfriend that is leaving for vacation, and I only have a verse done and no chorus! It goes like this….
    I think about you when I close my eyes, I think about you every moment of my life, cause your always in my mind. OOHH! Sometimes I get in my own way but I swear to you I will change!
    Please help me finish the song!

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Bella, that’s nice of you. Song sounds good so far, can anyone reading this help her finish it? :)

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Monica. Hopefully some of the readers of this site can help you finish your songs, if anyone can leave a comment below please.

  31. Paige says

    I need help with the actual lyrics- if that makes sence?
    I need to ask a few questioms about song writing but dont know where to start..
    Would it help if i told you the situation im in ? :)

  32. Saurabh says

    i want to ask one thing, does song writing requires musical knowledge too?
    can’t i just write a song without any knowledge of music. just like a poem.

    • Shaun Letang says

      It’s best to have music knowledge, as if you ever want to put the song to a backing track, at least the structure will already be suitable. If you write using a random structure, it’s often not going to sound good on the ears.

  33. Paul says

    These tips are very helpful to people who already got an idea, but not beginners. Keep up the good work man and please explain more.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Paul. Is there anything particular about song writing you wanted to know about? If I know then maybe I can write something else simpler for you.

  34. Lacey says

    Can i share some of my song that i made ok here it goes:

    Don’t be afraid don’t try to hide open your wings and be a butterfly you are more perfect then you seem to think you loveable that’s what I think.

    Thank you for looking at this I hope you liked it.

  35. Ashley says

    Hi! I read your article and it gives amazing advice.

    I am having a few problems on writing a song still. I have a few emotional topics that I could write about but I don’t know how to EXACTLY put the song altogether. I am also a beginner and I have bad stage fright. I also would really like to get noticed and really overcome my stage fright.

    If you could give me a few tips I would be more than happy!

    Thanks!

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Ashley. With regards to putting the song together, there’s no right or wrong way if you’re speaking about something you have specific thoughts about. As long as you’re lyrics are going in time to the backing track, just get your thoughts down and make sure the timing is the same each time.

      I’ve written a guide looking at dealing with stage fright, you can check it out here.

      Good luck!

  36. Georgia says

    Hello, I’m Georgia, I’m 13 and I found this quite helpful. I love music and have written a song before but…. I don’t think it’s that good and I don’t really have anything to base it on….. Friendship? Love… Maybe? I don’t know….. But I’d appreciate if you could think of anything I could maybe use…. (;

    Thank you!
    Georgia.

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Georgia. Friendship sounds like a good thing to base it on, either your friendships or friendships in general. Let us know how it goes. :)

  37. says

    Heh Shaun , my names Darryl. I’ve been doing some research on songwriting. I’ve been writing myself for about 25 yrs. I’ve decided to start my own website to help people with there songwriting problems. After reading in your comments section, I realized there is plenty of information that I don’t have. I place a link to your site, to help with those question I can’t answer. I hope that is OK?
    regards Darryl

    • Shaun Letang says

      Hi Darryl, thanks for reaching out. That’s fine putting a link on your site to over here, it’s much appreciated. I hope your readers find it useful. Good luck with your site. :)

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