How To Start A Songwriting Journal

Posted by Mike Schuck

A songwriter’s journal is something that every writer should have, at least for his or her career. Having one helps you organize your songs in lots of ways — by genre, by theme, and sometimes even by who wrote what.

It can also be an invaluable tool for writers who are struggling to find their voice as artists and songwriters.

By taking time each day to write down ideas and fragments of lyrics, you’ll eventually stitch them together into complete songs. Plus, it’s fun!

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There’s no wrong way to start writing in your diary (or your songwriting notebook). You can use pen and paper, type onto your computer, or both. It doesn’t matter how you do it; just make sure you don’t forget about it.

This article will talk you through the basics of starting a songwriting diary, including why you need to add this new habit to yours.

Make a list of topics for your journal

how to start a songwriting journal

The first step in starting a songwriting journal is deciding what kind of diary you want to create. You can choose to make it narrative, with stories or lyrics as entries, or you can opt for using markers and notes to describe your songs. Either way, you will need to give yourself a place to write down all of your thoughts!

Most people start their songwriting journals by making a list of different topic areas. These include things like lyrics, music, voice, melodies, chord progressions, rhymes, etc. Some writers even organize their papers by album order so that they can easily find any ideas or fragments.

Whatever system works best for you, do not hesitate to try out new layouts sometimes! Many professionals have many different styles for keeping track of inspiration.

Decide what you want your journal to be used for

Even if you don’t ever plan to turn your song ideas into songs, writing down all of those lyrics can help you organize and structure your thoughts and dreams.

Writing down crazy ideas and poetry is great, but keeping it real takes work- starting with yourself.

By documenting your dreams and aspirations, you will eventually get there.

You will find that as your life changes and things slow down, your notebook becomes more important.

It helps you focus on what matters most and gives you some extra strength when times are tough.

That's why I recommend creating an organized music writing diary or journal where you can quickly access and add new material.

I like using Google Keep because it allows me to create custom tabs and notes which also sync across my devices.

Write down your favorite songs

how to start a songwriting journal

One of the best ways to get inspired for song writing is by listening to other people’s music.

You can listen to one or several songs, or you can read an album review to find out what parts of the lyrics stuck with you and why. Either way, it’s helpful to learn how artists built their creativity and inspiration.

A lot of successful writers keep a journal that they use to write about ideas and experiences related to their work. This could be anything from writing notes about life lessons you learned or things that made you feel good to making lists of words and phrases and combing through them for ideas.

By taking time every day to do something creative, even if it’s just for a few minutes, you’ll give yourself a boost of self-confidence and momentum.

Try to write down your ideas for new songs

how to start a songwriting journal

A journal is not really meant to be read, but gathered insights from – in this case, song writing. So when you start trying to organize your notes into topics and categories, that’s okay!

At first, it may help to just make lists of things you want to include in your music. For example, “ballads, power ballads, romantic lyrics, chorus/refrain patterns,” or anything related to “power,” “love,” etc. You get the idea?

Once you have some material, try grouping them by topic or category to see what comes up. If there are no clear groups, create some so you can connect all those pieces easily.

Keep going until you feel like you’ve covered as much ground as possible, and then begin organizing and linking these separate notes together into fuller stories, themes, and narratives.

Journal about what inspires you

how to start a songwriting journal

A helpful way to begin writing down your songs is by taking some time to look into what inspires you. What moves you, what emotions you feel, and what things make you happy are all important pieces of music inspiration!

A good place to start is looking at examples of how other artists write their songs. Many songwriters will discuss what writers they admire and get tips from those writers’ work.

You don’t have to be an expert writer to pick up something valuable, so try reading through musician memoirs or poetry books. Or even just listening to others’ songs to see how they use punctuation, grammar, and rhythm.

Your dreams, experiences, memories, and thoughts can help inspire new lyrics or rework old ones. Let yourself soak it in and add more details as needed.

Once you’ve gathered a few ideas, organize them into categories to create milestones for your journaling process. For example, maybe one category is Inspirations (any topic), another is Settings (where the idea was conceived), and another is Themed Lines or Rhymes.

Journal about what frustrates you

how to start a songwriting journal

A songwriter’s journal is an essential tool for his or her career. Many people don’t realize this, but it takes a lot of effort to be a successful songwriter.

It can take years before your work gets recognized and eventually published. In fact, most professional songwriters never get that chance! This is why there are so many talented writers in the world – someone was always helping them grow their craft.

A writer’s journal is a place to store all sorts of things. Some people organize theirs by genre, while others make lists related to songs. There may even be notes and bullet points about lessons they learned as writers.

Whatever system works best for you, the important thing is to make sure your journal is accessible at any time. Technology has made it easy to access your writing anywhere, which is great because you never know when something might come up.

You should also consider making your journal private so no one else can access it unless you give them permission. This will help prevent anyone from snooping around and finding nothing.

Journal about happy memories

how to start a songwriting journal

A great way to get started is by writing about your happiest memory as a child. As you write, the song lyrics will flow naturally and yourself or others may make references to these songs.

You can also include stories of funny experiences or times you’ve hit a slump and then things suddenly got going for you. By thinking about past events that made you feel good, it helps bring out those feelings in the present.

And don’t forget to look back at old notes, sketches and recordings to add depth to your music.

Journal about sad memories

how to start a songwriting journal

The next thing you can do to get your song writing started is to gather some materials or create new ones, depending on what type of songs you want to write.

You can make notes in an app like Penzu where you can easily save and share content, or use plain old paper and index cards.

Whatever form it takes, a journal is a great way to organize all of your song ideas. A lot of writers keep a notebook organized with note headings for different types of songs.

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