One of the most successful writers in modern times once told an interviewer that writing is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. It is possible to be struck by a great song idea and even have some lyrics pour out without a lot of effort. But this doesn’t mean the song is “finished.”
If you want to be a songwriter and singer you will eventually have to have an outline or a method to work with. If you rely on inspiration alone you may find yourself falling behind in the singing and songwriting world. If you want to perform songs written by others you will also need a plan of some sort, but that is another story altogether.
The most experienced songwriter in the world will still have to take some steps to make their final version of the song as good as it can be. Even the most successful performers in the world know that songwriting and performing becomes more difficult as time goes by. If you have talent and are creative you still need to learn every day and find ways to make your latest song just a little bit better than the last one.
Some of the people who provide songs to rock, pop, hip-hop, and country stars use a method that is very close to the “cookie-cutter” plan. They may have a new melody and new lyrics but the overall structure of the song is about the same each time. For example, you might have a song that goes like this: Verse 1, Verse 2, Chorus, Instrumental Lead, Verse 3, Chorus, Repeat Chorus, End.
Writing songs successfully means doing some songwriting each day. Don’t worry about getting the first draft perfect! It’s fine to write two or three rough drafts of the lyrics, just as it is OK to get some basic chords down and make adjustments as you go. Even if you are very young and have a fantastic memory, make sure you get that song down on paper or on your computer. You may even want to look into getting one of the computer-songwriting programs.
If you are serious about songwriting and about singing, you should listen to music every day. Of course, you don’t want to overload your mind with other ideas and you certainly don’t want to just imitate someone else. But you can get ideas from other singers. You may even be inspired by someone you hear and this may lead to your own great song! Try listening to some of the music that you like and hope to sound like. Then take some time to just let that sound “roll around” in your head.
If you are trying to write your own song or have spent some time learning a song but find yourself at a point where you can’t seem to move forward, that’s OK. It happens all the time. Just take some time away from the project and come back to it when you are more relaxed and fresh. Give the song a break and give yourself a break at the same time. That’s the key to good songwriting.