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The First 5 Steps of Writing a Song

By Mandy Thompson on March 29, 2011

1) Collect ideas. These could be melodies, an ideas, images, or phrases. Find ways to pull them together like an idea bank that you can go through whenever you've got the itch to write. If an idea is worth keeping and writing, use it.

2) Take that idea and write all you can, without editing or critiquing. Just let the phrases and notes flow. This will usually become the first verse and potential chorus of the song. A few lines are enough to get a general understanding of where the song is going.

3) Collect a word bank. When your brain runs out of words, go find some more. There are a few variations on this step, but the general idea is to create a collection of thematically-related words to pull from. Use key words that fit the main idea of the song, and create lists off those words. The lists will include synonyms, related words, imagery, phrases, and rhymes. Use this word bank to improve the lyrics you've already written, as well as complete the remaining sections.

4) Tweak the chorus. By now, you should be able to summarize the main idea in one sentence or phrase. Be sure that the chorus clearly reflects this concept.

5) Build the second verse. There are two simple approaches to the writing the second verse. One strategy is to re-phrase what the first verse says. Use different words, but basically state the same thing. Another strategy is to say the next thing, taking the message of the first verse even farther. This works if the song refers to chronological events, experiences, or a progressive question/answer.

Congratulations! You've got a couple of verses and a chorus. And a strong central message of the song. Not only have you progressed a long way into the songwriting process, you may be looking at a complete song!

by Mandy Thompson

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