I want to bust a myth about songwriting.
The length of the writing session doesn’t matter.
It’s more about applying yourself and having the right songwriting tools.
You can write killer songs in short, intentional songwriting sessions. Jimi Hendrix wrote “Little Wing,” one of his biggest songs, in 145 seconds.
And this is good news for those of us with not much time to write.
No time to read the whole post? Use this handy-dandy table of contents:
- Maximizing Your Songwriting Time And Creativity
- Writing Tools
- Rhyming Dictionary
- Voice Recording App
- File Sharing Website/App
- How I Write Songs With These Songwriting Tools
Maximizing Your Songwriting Time And Creativity
When you don’t have a ton of time to do songwriting, you need to make the time that you do have count.
You can get a lot done in 15 minutes.
That is, if you focus and have the right songwriting tools.
You see, the tools you use to make music should minimize the length of time between your idea and its fruition.
Got a melody idea? You need to quickly record it before it leaves your brain.
Just came up with a sick new bar? You’ve got to write it down as fast as you can so you don’t lose it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available that can help you maximize your songwriting time and your creative output.
Some people like to stick with the classic pen and paper. Some people prefer to write with the cloud’s help (like me).
Either way, you need a way to write stuff down.
And here are the best writing tools out there.
I LOVE Evernote. I do literally all of my songwriting on it.
To be clear, it’s not technically a songwriting app.
But I consider it the best songwriting app I’ve ever encountered.
Here’s one reason why: when I start a new song, I create a new note with the lyrics. Then I attach the recording of my song idea directly to that note.
Organizing is awesome.
- Attach audio files to text notes
- Available as an app and on the web (the cloud, baby)
- Can organize notes into notebooks
- Free account available
If you love it too, you can get one free month of Evernote Premium here.
Google Docs is what I used before I found Evernote. It’s also super easy and convenient.
It has some of the same features, so if you’re more of a Google person, this might be your go-to.
- Available as an app and on the browser
- Organize documents into folders
Pen and paper
And before Google Docs, I wrote down lyrics like someone from the 1800s. On paper.
No but for real, I think every songwriter, at some point, should use a pen/pencil and paper.
It’s good to feel yourself literally writing the words. Some songwriters say it makes them feel more connected to their lyrics.
- Helps you slow down and think of the right words to use
- Doesn’t rely on the grid (which could go down at any second BACK EVERYTHING UP NOW)
- Super affordable (I still love the classic black-and-white notebooks, but you can also check out Guided’s eco-friendly notebooks)
I don’t ascribe to the rule that you NEED to rhyme your lyrics.
I just think if you force yourself to do that, you can end up with some pretty cheesy stuff. It’s more about the story and the emotion. Forcing a rhyme can sound contrived.
BUT sometimes it really works to rhyme. And sometimes I just can’t think of a freakin’ word that rhymes with “gazebo.”
So on many occasions, I’ve turned to these rhyming apps for songwriting help.
The Doppelreim app
Doppelreim is my favorite app for writing lyrics that rhyme.
And even if you don’t find a word you’re happy with, the results it spits out may inspire something else.
- Can kickstart your lyric-writing session
- App and browser version
RhymeZone is another good one. On top of generating words and phrases that rhyme, it gives you words and phrases that almost rhyme.
- Generates words that rhyme AND almost rhyme
- Available on the web and as an app
Voice Recording App
Forgetting a melody idea is possibly the worst feeling ever.
It actually feels worse than a broken femur. And that’s a fact.
This is why you need (NEED) a voice recording app.
You at least need something to record your voice. Go ahead and use a cassette player, I don’t care.
No matter what, you’ve got to have a quick way to record your song idea before it falls out of your brain.
And honestly, just use your smartphone’s built-in voice recording app. Don’t waste your money on fancy-looking apps.
Android users, use the Voice Recorder app.
Apple users, use the Voice Memos app.
File Sharing Website/App
A file sharing site can really come in handy during the songwriting process.
Like, if you want feedback on a song in progress but you can’t play it for anyone in person, you can use this crazy new thing called the internet.
Seriously though, being able to easily and instantly send files to fellow songwriters is an amazing thing.
So here are the best file sharing websites and/or apps around (these are especially good for co-writing)…
WeTransfer lets you send up to 2 GB of files, alerting the other person by email. It’s completely secure and free.
This service is nice because email can’t send that much stuff at once, so you may not be able to email multiple MP3s and you can’t email WAVs at all.
I love WeTransfer and use it all the time. During the recording process of my album, Everybody Breaks, I used WeTransfer to send stems and song ideas to my friends who played on the record.
- Send up to 2 GB of files
- Super easy to use
DropBox is file storage website that makes it easy to share files. With a free account, you get 2 GB of storage
In fact, I stored the final mixes of my album on DropBox, copied the share link of the folder, and emailed it to my friends for feedback.
If this seems like something you’d use, you can sign up for a free account here.
- 2 GB of storage
- Easy to share files and folders
For a minute there, it looked like Soundcloud was going bankrupt.
I’m glad they didn’t.
Most people think of Soundcloud as a music streaming website, which it is. But you can also send songs in progress to fellow musicians or a co-songwriter.
I’ve even used it to send my music to a music supe (the cool way to say “music supervisor”).
- 3 hours of upload time for free
- Easy to share songs with others
- Can make songs private and only viewable to those with the share link
How I Write Songs With These Songwriting Tools
Just to show you how integral a lot of these tools are to my songwriting process, here’s how I typically write a song…
How to write a song with the aforementioned songwriting tools:
- Jam on guitar/piano/whatever instrument is lying around
- Come up with chord progression and basic melody
- Record song idea with Android’s Voice Recorder app
- Send that audio file to Evernote, attaching it to an existing note (a song-in-progress) or as a new note
- Organize this note into the appropriate Notebook
- Over time, struggle to find the right lyrics, melody, chords, concept
- Question songwriting skills
- If stuck, try to follow some basic songwriting methods
- Use the Doppelreim app to come up with a rhyme (when appropriate)
- Continue struggling and start questioning meaning of life
- Finish the song (or a draft of the song)
- Share song with fellow songwriter(s) using DropBox or WeTransfer and ask for feedback
And voila! You’ve got a song.
Do you have songwriting tools that I didn’t mention?
Share them in the comments so we can all benefit…