5 Essential Songwriting Habits

person playing guitar while looking at lyrics

September 17, 2022

Songwriting can be a lot of fun. But it can also be a lot of hard work. If you want to be a successful songwriter, you need to develop good habits. Here are five essential songwriting habits by Mahmoud Ibrahim that every songwriter should adopt.

Some songwriters just wait for inspiration, those are not likely to succeed. Inspiration comes as a result of work; to get inspired you have to work hard and practice. So, how can you practice songwriting?! The habit of sitting down to actually think about a subject, to look up words in rhyme dictionaries, to play the piano for just the right chord…etc. All this is just the habit of practicing.

As you practice more, HIT IDEAS will suddenly come to you out of the blue!! Writing hit songs is the inspiration that you worked hard to get. For example, you might spend a lot of nights wearing your brains out writing melodies (that is practicing, and organizing your songwriting thoughts), and then while shopping for shoes an amazing melody starts echoing in your head: That’s your hit song.

This means that practicing doesn’t get you hit songs or hit ideas, instead it trains your brain to function better musically and to become more aware of “songwriting potential” in things occurring in your environment. There are other habits, besides practicing, that are useful too. These habits are tools to help the songwriter collect the fruits of practicing. Here they are….

Habit One. Have a notebook with you at all times:

Any time a song idea hits you, a good verse, creative metaphor..etc. Write it down for review later.

Habit Two. Have a digital recorder with you at all times:

You can use any thing to record sound with…Your “hit” melodies will not be lost. (Sometimes I use the notebook to write the notes of the melody -like D B A G..etc.-, you can do that too and save yourself the trouble of having to sing in a supermarket ;).

Habit Three. Ask people what they think about your creations:

Showing them to friends is always a good idea. However, showing them to other songwriters means great advice and “professional” comments that would go beyond “Good work, where are we going to eat?” :).

Habit Four. Keep your hit ideas organized:

Now that you have kept every amazing melody and every interesting lyric that hit you on paper, It’s time for you to put them together in a great song. But how are you going to keep track of every single melody, title, chord progression or lyric that you think of or write?!! The answer is to have them organized in a way that makes them easily searchable and accessible. You can still do your organizing the old way using paper put in folders besides the folder-sub folder organizing on your computer. There are softwares that might help, like “TrackNotes” from “Virtual Studio Systems”.

Habit Five. Practice:

I have talked about this a lot. It’s really important…You will not be musically inspired unless your brain gets used to music. Inspiration is HARD WORK!! Practice by reading for successful lyricists, by listening carefully to great songs, by struggling for days with one line to get the right word for meaning and rhyme, by experimenting with chord progressions…etc. There are lots of stuff you can do…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!

Now that I have let you in on the songwriter habits, there remains a warning: Not every idea that you get is an inspirational moment, you will get a lot of “junk ideas”. Nevertheless, do not try to judge your ideas the same moment you get them; record every thing and keep track of every thing you think of. You can later review these ideas, save the good ones and throw away the bad ones (you can better keep them in a safe place too, every thing may come in handy!).

Finally, you don’t have to go with all these habits. They are habits that I developed because they were comfortable to ME. You, also, can discover and develop your own useful habits. The only habit that is crucial is!?!! You guessed right: PRACTICING.

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The Superior Songwriting Program by Singorama.

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This is a curated article that was originally posted on EzineArticles by Mahmoud Ibrahim. Images used courtesy of Pixabay and Unsplash.

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