Build a Pro Songwriter’s Toolkit – Part 2

FullSizeRenderEvery successful songwriter depends on a proven list of tools to keep their writing on track. These tools are a blend of philosophical, practical, and even technical principles that enable them to self-edit and make sure their songs are the best they can be long before they play them for others to critique. You can learn to use them, too, and take your writing to a much more effective level in record time!

In Part 1, I gave you three important tools to become the songwriter you want to be. They are:

1) Always start with a strong hook.

2) Begin with the end user in mind.

3) Make every word count.

You can go back to that blog post here and refresh your memory or check it out. Now it's time to add a few more things that will help you move ahead confidently in your own writing. 

4) Make your song form consistent. Even if listeners can't explain why a song isn't grabbing them, they know intuitively whether or not you've been consistent in form. If your line lengths vary from verse to verse, for instance, or the pre-chorus rambles instead of being an intentional bridge into the chorus, listeners tune out. They just shut down because you're not connecting with them on a subconscious level. The natural order of the universe is disturbed and they just don't want to work hard enough to overcome your inconsistencies to hear what you have to say. Take time to learn about song form and it will go a long way towards getting listeners engaged.

How can you take something you feel at a very deep heart level and capture it in your lyric? Click To Tweet

5) Connect at a heart level with your listener. Okay, I admit this sounds vague and difficult to explain, but it's really not. It's somewhat like #2 where I recommended beginning with the end user in mind, but that was more about style and the context for a song's usefulness. This point is more about connecting to a listener's heart by connecting with your own. It was Carl Rogers who said, "That which is most personal is most universal," meaning that if you feel something deeply, a lot of other people do, too. How can you take that which is most personal, something you feel at a very deep heart level, and capture it in your lyric? The billions of songs about "love" should give us a clue. The most successful ones capture a deep emotion like fear, anger, power, rejection, hope, and all the other things we all feel and make them singable in a very few lines. If you think about connecting with your listener at a heart level instead of writing "at" them, your songs will have a greater chance of success.

6) Become a life-long student of song. The more you study about songs and songwriting, the better you'll be at it. I include this as part of a successful songwriter's toolkit because some people don't progress for a simple reason: they stop learning the craft. Every time you write becomes a lesson in songcraft. Every co-writing experience makes you stronger if you'll pay attention. Keeping track of what works and what doesn't teached you invaluable self-editing skills you'll need to become the writer you want to be. The only unsuccessful writer is the one who thinks their songs are great as they are. Everyone can grow. Everyone can improve. Decide today you want to learn more. There's an old proverb that says, "Become a student and the teacher will appear." Don't assume you know enough, become teachable, and the most productive season of your songwriting is just ahead.

Want more FREE songwriting tips? Download my PRO SONGWRITERS TOP TEN TIP SHEET here and get started today becoming the writer you know you want to be! 

John Chisum

John Chisum is a pioneer in the Christian music business, serving alongside people such as Bill & Gloria Gaither, Twila Paris, Paul Baloche, Don Moen, and many more. As Managing Partner of Nashville Christian Songwriters, John seeks to empower Christian songwriters worldwide to discover and fulfill their call to write.

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