How Long Does Songwriting Take?Posted by Mike Schuck
As with anything creative, song writing can take time! It’s not like other professions where you are immediately able to produce your own material.
Songwriters work hard at it, just like any other professional writer or artist. It takes effort, passion and practice to get good at it. But they all have one thing in common – they're always changing what they do so that their songs sound better than before.
And how long does songwriting really take? Well, if someone told you years ago that you could be a successful singer today by simply learning the basics of music and then practicing singing for hours every day, they would probably have been laughed off the stage.
Now, however, technology has made it possible. You no longer need to be trained as an expert musician to put yourself out there. With the right resources, anyone can succeed.
Figure out your musical signature
As we have discussed, songwriters come in all shapes and sizes. Some write songs that stick with easy-to-sing melodies and lyrics that feel straightforward and simple. Others use music styles and concepts more extensively, incorporating touches of jazz, blues, soul, folk, or anything else they desire.
The length of time it takes to become a successful songwriter is influenced mostly by what kind of writer you want to be.
If you want to be someone who writes short, catchy tunes with sweet vocals, then go for it! You are not limiting yourself. Many people enjoy listening to these types of songs, so you will likely succeed if you choose this path.
However, if you would like to explore other genres and modes of expression, that’s okay too. It’s totally valid to pursue your dreams, even if you don’t think you’ll make much money doing it.
Write every single day
Writing songs is like any other creative skill – you have to practice it regularly to improve your craft. It’s easy to get distracted when you don’t set aside time for writing, but this will only hurt your progress.
It can be hard to force yourself to write everyday, especially in the beginning when your songwriting spirit isn’t as strong. But I would urge you to make that effort at least once a week, if not every few days.
I know it feels expensive to spend several hours each week writing, but this is one of those things that should be a budget-friendly investment.
By investing in your music career, you are creating an income source that you can depend on. You won’t ever run out of opportunities to create and express yourself through music, which is what makes this a valuable tool.
And remember, even though it may feel like there is no progress being made, you ARE making progress!
Once you start listening to your own songs and identifying elements of the melody or lyrics, this will give you some inspiration and motivation to keep writing.
Start small by trying to put 30 minutes into writing per day, and slowly increase from there.
Combine your writing with recording
As we mentioned, songwriters come from all sorts of backgrounds, including business, journalism, art, and more. What they have in common is the ability to write songs!
Many songwriters start by composing music or lyrics on their own before bringing in other members to help them record their songs. Or, they may work with another writer and then both writers take turns recording and/or producing each other’s songs.
Either way, it’s helpful to understand how long it takes for someone who isn’t necessarily trained as a musician to get into the groove of creating songs. (And while some people are naturally gifted musicians, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.)
But there ARE things you can do to make your songwriting process go faster! And if you’re willing to put in the effort now, it will lighten your load down the road when you’re seeking outside collaborations.
Connect with other artists
As we already mentioned, songwriters are in a pretty creative space so they need to connect with that creativity somewhere. Whether you’re a novice or experienced writer, there are many resources available to help get your songs rolling.
There are lots of online communities where you can share your work and/or brainstorm new ideas. Many have free accounts that allow you to contribute material and read what others have posted.
Writers forums are another good way to gain inspiration. You might be surprised how many successful writers were not at first aware of the process for writing a song or learned something from reading someone else’s post.
Writing music is a lot like painting a picture – both require putting together pieces you have previously worked on and incorporating them into one larger piece.
And just because something has lyrics doesn’t mean it isn’t musical! In fact, some of the most well-known melodies don’t necessarily have words. A classic example of this is The Star Spangled Banner, which was originally written as an instrumental military march.
A great way to learn more about the art form of songwriting is by listening to plenty of songs and analyzing what elements make up a melody, what styles the artist uses, etc.
Practice makes perfect
Even if you are a professional songwriter, writing lyrics can be difficult at times! It takes time to become familiar with how music works, what types of melodies and rhythms work in songs, and how to use these tools to create your own music.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t seem to be making any progress towards having your dream job. You might even give up completely!
Running out of ideas is always a risk for writers, but there are several strategies that can help mitigate this problem.
The first step is to realize that most people have never done it before. We’re all beginners once upon our lives, so why not enjoy being a beginner writer while we still have opportunities to do so?
Another important thing to remember is that no matter who you are, or where you come from, everyone has the same basic tools they need to write a good song.
You have your vocabulary, you have your pen, and you have yourself. With those three things, anything you want to say or put into a song is already written somewhere. All you have to do is take what you feel and learn about yourself and then apply it to something new.
Use a team
As we mentioned before, being a successful songwriter doesn’t happen overnight! It takes time to develop your craft, network with people in the music industry, and keep learning about music and the business of songs.
But you don’t have to do it alone! There are many resources available to you as a writer that can help you succeed. You may know some of them already, but just like with anything else, there is always more you could be learning.
Here are our top tips for how to write a song faster.
Give yourself enough time to produce quality content. Writing a song isn’t a task that can be done quickly, so make sure you give yourself enough time to create something worth listening to.
It’s also important to take breaks during the process. Give yourself some time to reflect on what you've written and to recharge your batteries.
In addition to giving yourself adequate time, try to use a systematic approach when writing lyrics or melodies. This way, you'll achieve consistency which will enhance the quality of your material.
You might want to consider getting professional help at times. Even if you're not looking to publish your work yet, asking someone who has done it for money can only benefit you. More experienced writers and musicians usually know their fields well, and they can easily share helpful information and shortcuts.
Create a brand
As we mentioned before, songwriters come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very formal with their writing and use proper grammar and tone every time they write a new song! Others may not put too much effort into their lyrics or music since they feel that people will understand what they mean without extra decorations.
Whatever style you choose to be in, know that your audience will appreciate it. Your style can change as you grow as a writer, but staying in touch with who you is as an artist will help you inspire and motivate yourself to keep writing songs.
If you ever need inspiration, read through some of the other artists’ material and learn from them. You might pick up something new for your own repertoire.
Know your market
As I mentioned before, songwriters are really individuals with different strengths and styles. What is important to know about the music industry is that there are two main markets for songs!
One is the Hit Market, which is made up of songs that get played a lot and earn a lot of money. These songs are usually well-written, have catchy melodies, and feature strong vocals and lyrics that people enjoy listening to.
The other market is the Sound Track Market, where a piece or sequence of music does not necessarily need to be a full song but instead a few notes or chords that fit into another song. A sound track can also be a luscious instrumental version of a full song or vice versa (like The Piano Sonata in Episode 2 of our Superstar Series).
Some artists make it onto both hit lists like Taylor Swift who has Top Billboard Charting Songs such as “Bad Girl”, “Mean” and her smash hit “I Did Not Like That”.
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.