how to write a song

SongWriting 101: How to Write a Song in 9 Easy Steps

Writing a song is a creative process that can take many turns, and even the most experienced people can find it challenging at times.

To create a song that is unique to you and expresses exactly what you want to say, you need to have a system that works every time – whether it’s to get you out of writer’s block or to bring fresh ideas to your already existing track.

Contrary to what some new songwriters may think, you don’t need to have special writing skills or be the next Shakespeare to write a great song. With the right steps, you can easily write and achieve the lyrics and sound you want. While everyone may take a slightly different approach, many songwriters follow a set of basic steps when writing a song.

In just a few simple steps, I’ll show you exactly what it takes to go from concept conception all the way through post-production – so whether you’re a brand new beginner or a seasoned pro, there’ll be something here for you!

What Does Song Writing Entail?

Songwriting is the process of creating a song, which usually includes vocal melodies and lyrics. It can also include instrumental accompaniment and arrangements to create a complete piece of music.

The songwriting process starts with an idea, which can come from anywhere – it could be inspired by something you heard on the radio, a phrase or lyric that’s been playing in your head for days, or a feeling or emotion you want to express.

Once you have an idea, the next step is to develop it into a complete song. This is what we’ll be deconstructing in just a minute.

PS: If you don’t have any idea in mind yet, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! We’ll talk about that soon.

But if you want to take a deeper dive into songwriting prompts first, then you should definitely check out this post:

50+ Songwriting Prompts: Unique Ideas To Get Your Next Song Started (With Examples!)

Now let’s get right into the tea…

Step-by-Step Instructions to Write a Song from Scratch

how to write a song

Before we get into each point, here’s my easy-peasy guide on writing a song, even if you’ve never written one before:

  • Brainstorm ideas and decide on a topic
  • Gather inspiration and conceptualize a story that you want to tell
  • Choose a song structure
  • Create a melody
  • Add some basic chords
  • Write your lyrics
  • Record a simple demo
  • Add harmony and arrangement – Create an instrumental track
  • Refine and polish – seek feedback

Honestly, I’m not very specific about following this pattern in this exact order, but you should be touching on each of these steps at some point in your songwriting process.

Songwriting is a very creative process, and inspiration can come from any source or at any time. You might even feel the need to change an entire section or add one at any point in your process.

The key is to have an idea of where you are going with your song. However, if you tend to work in an organized pattern or are a complete beginner, it will help to follow this process step-by-step.

Let’s break down each step so you can get a better understanding and put it into practice when creating your next track.

1) Brainstorm ideas and choose a topic

Start by jotting down any random thoughts and ideas that come to mind. It doesn’t matter if the ideas seem random or disconnected at first – the key is to get them out of your head and onto paper.

You can also look around you for inspiration – it could be a conversation had with someone, a news headline or even a scene from your favorite movie, a striking image or an emotion that resonates with you – really, it could be anything – you just have to keep your eyes open and be receptive to new ideas.

There are several approaches that you could possibly take when brainstorming. You could start by writing down a stream of consciousness, creating an outline or simply jotting down words that come to mind and seeing what comes out of it.

For example: If you’re writing about summertime, some ideas might include bright sunshine, kids playing in the park, cold lemonade on a hot day, and so on.

Once you’ve brainstormed ideas, it’s time to decide what your main topic will be and craft a story around it.

2) Gather inspiration and conceptualize a story

This is the fun part – here, you can pick one of the ideas you brainstormed to focus on for your song. You get to draw on all the ideas that came out of your brainstorming session and craft something unique and powerful.

Start with a single idea – it can be the main point of your song or simply serve as a starting point. From there, you can build upon it and develop it into something special. Ask yourself questions like: Who are the characters in my story? What is their dilemma? What is the setting and how does this affect the situation?

When choosing a theme for a song, there are countless directions to take. Whatever direction you decide to go in, it’s important to choose a theme that speaks to you on a personal level. After all, the best music comes from the heart.

3) Choose a song structure

Before diving into writing the lyrics or composing the melody, it’s essential to decide on the song’s structure. The most common song structures include:

  1. Verse-Chorus-Verse (V-C-V-C-Bridge-C-Chorus): This structure is popular in many mainstream songs.
  2. Verse-Verse-Pre-Chorus-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus: This structure adds variation and builds tension.
  3. AABA: This structure consists of two verses, a bridge, and a repeated verse (A) with a slightly different ending (B).

However, there are some parts that you should include in every song regardless of the structure you choose:

  • Verse – Contains the main idea or story.
  • Chorus – Contains a catchy and memorable hook that sums up the theme of your song.
  • Bridge – Adds variation and helps to create a dynamic climax for your song.

Feel free to select the structure that best fits your song, but don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new.

4) Create a melody

Now that you’ve got the structure of your song, it’s time to work on the melody. Start by humming or singing some ideas and see what resonates with you. It might take some trial and error before you get it right, which is totally normal – even the best songs take several drafts.

At this stage, try not to be too critical – just let the creative juices flow. Also, try experimenting with different melodies and don’t be afraid to play around with unexpected chords or notes. This will make your song stand out from the crowd and help capture its unique story.

5) Add some basic chords

As you’re working on the melody, start adding some basic chords or progressions to it. This will set the tone and mood of your song. I find that adding chords helps with creativity. Especially if you’re just starting out’s a great way to jumpstart your writing process and give you ideas for the next step.

If you’re not sure how chords work, you can start with the basic chords and find a progression that fits the feel that you’re going for.

You can also use online chord generators to get some inspiration or try out different ideas.

6) Write your lyrics

Once you’ve got the overall structure of your song and a melody that’s ready to go, it’s time to write the lyrics. This is where it gets interesting.

Start by writing a basic outline and filling in the details as you go. As you’re writing, make sure that your lyrics flow naturally with the melody and are in line with the story you’re trying to tell.

The lyrics are the heart of your song, so invest time in crafting them carefully. Keep these tips in mind:

a. Use vivid imagery and descriptive language to paint a picture for the listeners.

b. Be authentic and write from the heart, as sincerity resonates with the audience.

c. Pay attention to the syllables and rhythm to ensure your lyrics flow smoothly with the melody.

Remember, writing lyrics is a creative process, and it’s okay to make multiple drafts until you are satisfied with the result.

I’m sure you know this but – your lyrics don’t have to rhyme, except that’s really the effect you’re going for – but they do have to flow with the melody. Make sure that the words you choose are meaningful and accurate.

7) Record a simple demo

Use technology such as recording equipment or software to record the song. This will not only help you to perfect the song, but it also allows you to share it with others.

When demoing the song, make sure you are using the right instruments and sounds that will bring your story alive.

For a basic demo, if you know how to play an instrument, you can just record yourself playing the song. If not, there are plenty of sound libraries and software available to help you create a basic demo for your song.

Once you have a basic demo ready, it’s time to refine your song and make it shine.

8) Add harmony and arrangement – Create an instrumental track

The instrumental track is what will bring the song to life and fill up any gaps in the melody or rhythm. This can include adding harmony, strings, drums, and other accompaniments.

At this stage, you can also experiment with the arrangement – change up the structure or add a new section.

Keep in mind that the song should still sound great without any accompanying music, so make sure the melody and lyrics are strong enough to stand on their own before adding the instrumental track.

Depending on the complexity of your song, you can either do this on your own or work with a producer and/or an arranger to bring your song to the next level.

Most simple ballads can get away with just a singer and an instrument, like a guitar or piano. But if you’re looking to create a more intricate arrangement, working with a producer and/or arranger is highly recommended.

When you’re happy with the arrangement, it’s time to finish the song and record a final version.

9) Refine and polish – seek feedback

By this stage, you should have a good idea of what your song should sound like. However, it’s important to take the time to revise and edit your song before recording the final version.

Seek feedback from friends, fellow musicians, or music mentors. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and polish your work further.

Listen closely and edit any parts of the song that don’t sound right, and make sure everything is polished and ready for listeners. If you’re working with a producer, they should be able to help you with this.


Writing a song is an art form, and you can practice and hone your skills each time you write one. With these simple steps, anyone has the capacity to write their own song from start to finish.

Remember to take your time and have fun with the process. Use it as an opportunity to express yourself, tell a story, and connect with


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How to Write a Song – Frequently Asked Questions

How to write a song with no experience?

The best way to write a song with no experience is to start by listening to a lot of music. Then try to structure your song in sections like verses, chorus, and bridges. Once you have an idea of the song structure, either start with chord progressions for inspiration or by writing a basic melody or lyric line that you can later develop. Experiment with different sounds and ideas, record what you’ve written, and then use that as a starting point to build the rest of your song. Finally, make sure to practice and listen back for any potential adjustments or edits you may need to make.

How do beginners start songwriting?

To make it simple, beginners should start writing songs by focusing on the basic elements that make up a song; melody, lyrics, and chords/instrumentation. Start by writing a melodic phrase or lyric line and then work from there. Build on your initial idea with chord progressions, counter melodies, and other instrumentation. If you’re having trouble getting started, try writing with a friend or asking an experienced songwriter for ideas.

How do I make my song stand out?

Is it hard to write a song?

Writing a song is not necessarily hard. It is a creative process which means that you’ll probably run out of ideas every once in a while, but it’s definitely a lot smoother with a solid process. The key is to expose yourself to as many things that can give you ideas (music, lyrics, art, movies, books); start with a simple concept or idea and build on it.

How do you write a nice song?

The main elements of a nice song are melody, lyrics, chords/instrumentation, structure and production. When you have all these elements working together in harmony, you will have a good song. To make your song stand out, make it unique to you. Add your personality into the mix and come up with a sound, style, or idea that is unique to you and your artistry. It might take some time to get there, but keep experimenting and practice your craft as much as possible.

How do you write a song melody?

Writing a song melody is all about experimentation and playing around with different notes until something feels right. Start by figuring out the overall structure of your song, then create a few simple melodic ideas that fit the structure.

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