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Why is Songwriting So Hard?

For someone who has never written a song before, songwriting may seem very hard at first. But with patience, practicing can improve the songwriting experience dramatically. In this post, I will try to tackle the main reasons that make songwriting difficult and will provide you with ways to speed up your songwriting journey.

Why is Songwriting So Hard?

  1. Don’t know how to start
  2. Afraid of sharing your songs
  3. The first songs aren’t too good
  4. Don’t know how to play an instrument
  5. Not sure if it’s musically correct

Don’t know how to start

The most common reason holding beginner songwriters back is they don’t know how to start. If you fall into this category, here are 3 basic songwriting fundamentals that can help you tremendously:

  1. Choose a Title
  2. Create a Song Structure
  3. Write the Hook

Choosing a title may sound easy, but it requires the songwriter to hone in on the point of the whole song. If you’re writing a love song, a suitable title may be “The Way You Look At Me” or “Where Have You Been All My Life”. Be creative! After choosing your title, I recommend sticking with it and not changing it, as altering the title may mean changing the whole song’s direction.

There are many song structure templates to choose from, or you can always mix and match and create your own! Some common song sections include verses, pre-chorus, chorus, hook, bridge, interlude, break, intro, outro. Your song may not include all of these sections, in fact, there are songs that only consists of 2 or even 1 section throughout! The most important thing is the flow, taking the listener through an emotional journey.

Ah yes, the hook. Sometimes called the Chorus. You may have heard it before, as it is often called the most memorable part of a song. However, a hook may mean different things in different music genres. It may be sung, spoken, rapped, or as simple as humming a tune. One thing remains pretty consistent though, and that is the hook should stick in the listener’s head. Think of one of your favourite songs, which part of the song do you think about first? More often than not, it is the hook.

Afraid of sharing your songs

Showing other people your work may be daunting, especially you’re not sure if they would like it or not. However, getting honest feedback is crucial in improving your songwriting skills. Here are some ways of sharing your songs and getting valuable feedback without the awkward and embarrassing parts:

  1. Share online without face to face meeting
  2. Take turns reviewing close friends’ music
  3. Write a few songs before sharing

I’m an introvert. There, I said it. If you’re like me, and are not comfortable with meeting people face to face to share your craft, that’s perfectly fine! There are a lot of music sharing platforms online today. Some examples are:

  • Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Youtube
  • SoundCloud
  • Forums

Next, find a group of like-minded songwriters, and try to give honest feedback on their songs. Not only will you gain some experience in analyzing songs, but you’ll also make songwriter friends online!

After that, if you share your own songs, they will most likely give you valuable advice as well. Note that this approach only works if you genuinely give your own feedback. If you’re always asking to get advice but not putting any effort into helping other songwriters, it would be extremely hard to build a good relationship with your fellow songwriters. Hence the quality of feedback on your own songs won’t be as good as it could be.

If you haven’t actually written any songs yet, I highly recommend you prepare at least a few songs before you share any of them online. This way, you’ll find major mistakes and weaknesses first, and improve the next few songs. That way, the songs you post online will have a bit of maturity in them, and the other songwriters will know you’re in for the long haul. By giving a good first impression, they will spend more time on giving you more valuable feedback, which in turn will let you improve much faster!

The first songs aren’t too good

Have you heard of the 10,000 hour rule? Although it’s an approximation, it shows how much time a person needs to spend on a skill in order to be great at it. That doesn’t mean that your song is bad before you reach the 10,000 hour mark, it just shows that the first songs you write are probably not that good.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you just have to think of it as part of the journey. Do not let that discourage you! The songs on the radio may sound fantastic, but the writers behind them spent thousands of hours writing a large number of songs before they came up with those amazing hits!

To jump start your path to songwriting success, here are some tips:

  1. Focusing on writing from your heart
  2. Use tools to assist your writing process
  3. Make songwriting a habit

Don’t know how to play an instrument

A lot of beginner songwriters get discouraged because they don’t know how to play an instrument. Personally, I know a lot of songwriters who got publishing deals and have sold songs to major artists, but they don’t have any music theory background at all! That just goes to show us that as long as the songs you write resonate with the audience, and if you have other musician friends you can grow with, not knowing how to play an instrument shouldn’t be a problem.

Not sure if it’s musically correct

I remember when I first started writing songs, worrying if a certain way of songwriting is technically “correct” was a constant struggle. However, after working with many musicians and having the chance to listen to great songwriters talk about their way of doing things, there actually isn’t a universally “correct” way of songwriting! Did you know that when Jazz music first came out, many classically trained musicians said it wasn’t music as it was “incorrect” theory?

Music is an art form. Yes, there are many fundamentals and theories that will help you write music that is pleasing to the ears faster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write great songs in your own creative ways. In fact, numerous hits are successful because they broke the rules. When everyone in the industry are writing a certain way, something different may be what most listeners are looking for!

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