Songwriting, like painting a picture, can be daunting. Looking at that empty page or canvas is the scariest thing in the world, especially to an amatuer. It’s hard to start writing songs, you never know if you’re doing it right. But, like putting paint onto a canvas, there’s no real wrong way to do it.
You just kind of, start.
You flounder, looking for the right words to use. Is this how you write a chorus? No one really knows. But it is that search for something completely undefinable that is the most fun part of writing songs. Ask any songwriter and they will say that there are no rules to writing songs. There are guidelines, things that we know work or sound good, but there are no rules. A song can be anything. A chorus can be one stanza, or two, or seven! Anything goes.
Like walking into a forest without a guide, or making a wrong turn when your GPS isn’t working, you’re going into the complete unknown. Who in their right mind would do that consciously? Why would you torture yourself and search for something that doesn’t yet exist?
We do these things, we create, because we can. Because it is in our nature. We are creators, inventors, idealists. We solve problems, we make better. It is only human to do so.
I find this process invigorating. I didn’t used to. I wanted to know everything (my friends and family will scoff here and say that I haven’t changed. To which I say, I’m a heck of a lot better). I wanted to know exactly what was going to happen when. I put together plans upon plans upon plans. Creativity doesn’t work that way. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.
Every time I sit to write a song, or compose a piano piece, or produce in the studio, it is as if I’m doing it for the very first time. It doesn’t change. I am faced with an inspiration or story (the problem) and I must come up with music to match it (the solution). It’s like one great puzzle after another. Time and experience can make this process faster, I know where to put my fingers on the piano and I know what words rhyme the best. But there is still that element of the unknown.
I never know how something is going to turn out. There are only ever clues at how to get to the finish line. It is in the journey where you find happiness, truth, and beauty.
So don’t worry about what you’re going to do or how it’s going to look when it’s finished. Don’t get bogged down with rhyme schemes and chord structures, production value and instrumentation. Everything will work out as you go. Just start.