Just Give It Time!

I've found that all it takes to write a good song, whether or not you are an awesome musician, is to just sit down and take your time with it.

Ultimate Guitar
If you ask any good songwriters how they write their music and how long it takes, you won't find many of them that will just say "I knew exactly what I was gonna write even before I sat down and picked up my guitar. From there it was just a matter of minutes." I would find it very hard to believe if someone told me that, regardless of who it was.

I sat down once and wrote a song in 20 minutes, and you know what... It was crap! I've come to learn that if you just settle for whatever you can come up with in less than an hour, it usually won't be a great song.

I mean think about it, not only do you have to come up with the words for the song, you have to write the music too. For some people that may be a little more talented than others, writing the music could take 30 min. Or 3 days, or even 3 weeks. Whenever I sit down to write a song, I just go to a quiet spot in the house and just start playing, I don't think about what time it is, or what else is going on, I just think about the song. I'll play around until I finally get an intro to the song. In the intro, it's up to you whether you write chords or a certain lead riff. From there the music can pretty much write itself as long as you just take your time with it and try not to really think about it too much. Once you get the music written, practice a couple of times so that it sticks in your head and you get a real good feel for the song.

Now on to writing the lyrics. What I normally do, and this works (for me at least), is just play the music and sing whatever comes out of my head. If you're not satisfied with it, or you just don't think it fits the song, then start over and try it again. once you get a start to the song the verse is done before you know it.

This is when you actually have to think about what the entire song is going to be about or what it's going to revolve around. just do the same thing that I said in the previous paragraph and start writing the 2nd verse or the chorus, whichever comes next in the song.

From here, it's smooth sailing. Just take your time with the song, if you get stuck just play what you have up until the part where you're stuck and keep trying to add something onto it everytime. You'll eventually have something finished and you can just take it to the band after you're done and mold it from there.

48 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Great lesson, now I know why Oasis wait so long to create a great album. They 'just give it time!'.
    another thing i notice with my band... is that actually most of my best riffs were written in a matter of minutes... others were written, tired out, and then revisited..... it usually takes my band between 2 and 3 months to write a full song... granted that our music has so much to it.... still, 90% of the writing process stems from the first riff... "where the Fxxx do i go next?", "should i change keys?", "maybe i should change pace?".... as it will normally take me 1 1/2 out of 2 months asking myself these questions.... the next part may actually only take about 5 minutes to come to me..... so yes, give it time.... any local bands that i've ever gone to see that try and write a full show of music in a couple weeks don't last very long and u notice their set times decreasing quickly the more venues they play..... try and make every song your best
    There is no set time for how long it takes to write a good song. I have written songs that people like that took days, some hours, and some minutes. Yes, there are people who have written hit songs in under 1 hour. Lennon and Mcartney to name a few. I have noticed one thing. You just can't force anything. Sometimes a song just falls onto the paper and other times it doesn't. When that happens, I stop and pick it up again later. This was a good topic.
    Yeh, good article. I sometimes just get a few words or thoughts in my head, just out if the blue and i like the idea and so i like to write them down. I have scribbles all over tissue boxes and magazines and on lots of little scraps of paper everywhere lol. They can all be used later. As for writing music i think i need to concentrate on that, because ive not really tried a lot at it. ive put more effort on lyrics. Never concentrated on actually writing a whole song lol
    wow, the words "Just give it time!" are execly the words for my song, and what you write help me too, thanks a lot! (-
    the article is true, but for me, i can write a good sing in 30-45 minutes... that is if i have the inspiration. i have had times where i didnt lift my pen off the paper for 10 minutes and came out woth something beautiful. other times, i lay down for 2 hours, but its all crap... so nice article any way and i should get a recorder, cause i allways get the best ideas when i dont have my songwrighting book...
    Its a great article but i usually write lyrics first and put in the music n' stuff after, but whatever works.Good job.
    I totally agree with you. It's taken me a year to come up with the good stuff. I made songs that were alright a year ago but they just didn't appease the general populus. So I started doing cover stuff. That's when I got inspiration to try and blend alot of the stuff I played to make something good. It turned out perfect but not original. So now I'm making songs that are.
    recording the made song on a recorder (mini or whatever) definitely helps. give it time>>good advice. thrown-anything-togethe r-just-to-make-a-song in a short while=crappy. patience is *badly* needed.
    some great tips I use in creating music, are storylines. Usually it is easier to write lyrics first, then fit them into a song. This is almost the best way every time, since you can add feeling or emotion into a certain phrase, word, or sentence. The biggest thing you must learn is asking yourself, once the lyrics are done, "What feeling do I want to give to my audience?". Once that question has been answered, you'll understand where you want to go with the song. Some other great tips include topics of science, research, philosophy, books, novels, magazines. Literature can help you express things, and eventually give you an edge or storyline of what you are trying to describe. A song cannot just "happen" you have to PLAN these things. Yes, of course great riffs, or lines can come out of your mouth with a blurt, but you'll end up getting stuck in the long run. Take the lines, riffs, and blurts, and set them aside. Then PICK a topic to write about. Write in your own way on that topic. Once finished, ANALYZE your topic or story, where is the feeling at? NOW create your music for that song. This order is a great way to do a good job and ALWAYS make exceptional songs. Planning ahead never ever hurts, and can only make your music better. Most of my bands' songs are 4-7 minutes long a piece, with wah tremolo, reverb intros and heavy metal choruses. We are beginning to sound progressive. Pick up a few instructional videos. If you really need tips on writing music, I'd suggest you pick up this video from my favorite band Dream Theater. Mike Portnoy's "Liquid Drum Theater". It's only from his perspective of the band, but these guys graduated in musicianship. They teach you how to time, change your key, etc, and write and remember. Check out my band if you like or if any of you have questions, I can help! I've been doing this stuff for years, and I used to feel the same way. It's not that it takes time, it's the fact of finding the right tools to do the job, such as instructional videos, lessons, reading, studying. I consider music as work. When you get the time to make a wonderful song that you are absolutely astounded with, you'll see why I call it work! Add us any time on myspace www.myspace.com/firstsunmusic. We'll be adding sections to help you out! Good Luck! Tommy
    Awesome article, I write song lyrics and have for only a short time, like 6 months, and what I realized is that you rarely ever write a good song(I mean lyrics) in like 10 or 15 minutes, for me if I'm really feeling it I typically can get a complete song(only lyrics) within 30 to 45 minutes, those typically are the best because the ones that take days or weeks typically someone trys to hard and forces it. The ones that you can write in a hour or two are the ones packed with just the right amount of emotion and flow the best, atleast that's what I've realized in my writing...
    ive made a song on my guitar but couldnt think of lyrics before now. wenever i tried the words didnt match the song, so thanks for the advice.
    true.. no one could possibly create a whole song within 20 to 30 minutes except for those who are fortunately superultrahypermagnetical lycharged talented people... heheh...
    Great article...its just wehat i do: start strumming into a good melody and sing things from the top of my head! the output is a couple of girls....
    i wrote a song with my band in 10 minutes. we thought it was good at the time but later realised it was shit. then one day my singer and i sat down and wrote a song and it took 5 hours but the end result was great
    so true it can take me weeks to get a sentens down i still have some songs that are still in the bigining stages
    st_anger92 wrote: i dont understand...u say it just takes time to write a song, but what do u do in that time 2 get a good song? some1 help me!!
    what u gotta do is just play around with different sounds and stuffs....
    i agree with this article 100% but i have heardd stories of heendrix knowing what he was gonna write and playing it right out...and apparently springsteen wrote all the lyrics and music to one of his albums in 3 hours
    A very gd idea if you are out is to ring up your home phone and leave a message with the song idea
    Oh I forgot, another thing I do is a lot of times I might not be able to write that whole song in a hour or 2, I might get stuck with only a verse or a chorus... I write/type every line, verse, chorus and the ones that I can't finish right away, I stash them in a seperate part of my word document and move on to something else and then later on check what I wrote a few days or maybe weeks before, a lot of times I'll write one verse and can't use it write now, but 3 weeks later will write an almost complete song and guess what, that verse I wrote fits perfectly with this song and now I have a finished song, same with certain lines and choruses. Basically find your style and who cares what people think as long as you are happy with it.
    you guys....im laughing like a drain...ive been reading all your comments and i could proberly write 2 song from it...try it...good lesson thou catchoftheday...
    I agree that people who usually tell us that they made lyrics in 30 minutes probably are making a joke out of the song they are making. I made the mistake of thinking too much of the song and thinking too little of what message I want to send out. To everyone, it may seem obvious but it is easily forgotten: write what you feel and listen to your heart.(sometimes i just screw the brain although you do need it a little...)=P
    I made a song up but can't think of lyrics to go with it, I tryed that thing where you play and sing somthing like 5 times and no results. Oh shit I'll just playit for fun
    this might be obvious but write down what you have so you don't forget it. i forget to write stuff down sometimes and can't remember it. that way you can also come back to it to see if it still sounds good later. things that sound good at one time might sound bad later. so write things down.
    Get a mini-recorder... I've always thought this would be a good idea. When I'm away from home and get a great idea, I wish I could capture it so I don't forget it later.
    Peace Homiji Patel! Mr Catchoftheday huh? Nice lesson. I'm young but I'm obsessed with writing songs and Ivannabe Arockstar. Peace
    i dont understand...u say it just takes time to write a song, but what do u do in that time 2 get a good song? some1 help me!!
    thanx for the tip.. it really helps alot... right now im skipping class to play by guitar so hope i get something accomplished... p.s. to st_anger92: i havent been playing all that long but my advice is to draw from your enviroment. write what you feel not what others want you to feel. Kind of like making love to your guitar
    This is very true. It usually takes about an hour to write the lyrics, and about a week for the music.
    Hey people. I agree with this article. All it takes is an experience, your feelings or opinion about it, and time to think about it. Usually people dont have alot of alone time in their daily lives, to just sit and think about their life. It will take quite some amount of alone time to think about how you feel about what you wana write about. The amount of time depends on the person. Some people are mental thinkers, they can sit and think about ideas during school or work and remember it until you have a chance to write it. And then there are a few people who are visual thinkers. They need to write it down and that takes more time, which isnt a bad thing either. So dont worry about how much time it may take because you'll be happy with what you have if you just sit there and think of somehting thats happened to you that affected your life, and write everyone of ur feelings on paper and then u can arange it to rhyme, or change the words and then you've already created a song!! Let me kno howthis goes if you've tryed it! good luck! 8^D
    remember that you dont have to write lyrics and music together. i have pages and pages of songs i've written and pages of lyrics i've written. sometimes i find that a song i wrote a year ago will perfectly fit lyrics i may have written yesterday. and vice-versa.
    st_anger92: i dont understand...u say it just takes time to write a song, but what do u do in that time 2 get a good song? some1 help me!!
    i suggest just chunkin it up... like 1st write an intro and then when ure stisfyed with what u have decide if u want lyrics in the intro or not... if u dont thats cool and if u do then thats cool too, but if u do then write lyrics for it... then ext figure out verse riffs n then put in lyrics and so on and so forth... then if u have finished the skeleton of ure song(intro, verses and chorus) then see if u can add sum creative touches, like solos and briges and preludes between verse and chorus or vice versa... or even between verses if u wanna have back to back verses.. this is why this takes so long, the best way to do it is chunk it up and put all ure current effort into 1 part... then do that for all of the parts. and if u get stuck then dont worry, it happens, just start messing around with words or riffs and see what sounds cool on what ure stuck on, so if ure stuck then just relax and jack around to clear ure head/find sumthin that u liek and/or go get a glass of water n chill, trsut me, all of this works. l8r homies
    Busted Luver
    I can write lyrics simple. I find it easy to write them, I can do it in less than an hour as well, but when it comes to putting the music together that the lyrics fit with I'm like "Oh. poopy doop!" lol! I'm gonna try and take it slow though 'cos I might be getting a little ahead of myself. I suppose I've just got to remember that I still have a lot to learn, even though I've learnt a lot in the time of been playing craziness. Well I think your advise should help me and especially Kittyn. Thanks
    I belive that this article has some good advice but it may not be true to everyone. For me sometimes yes i do need time to think of lyrics and music but usualy i dont have a guitar/pen/paper anywhere near me, i jsut think after i've thought for a bit i start to arange lyrics + music in my head. After that i can go to a guitar and actualy figure out the music i made, maybe first by figuing out the root notes or writing down the lyrics. Other times i have jsut sat down and wrote a song in 10 mins and sometimes they've been the better than ones that take 2weeks. Its down to the individual, people can only give you tips so dont take them as fact. Sometimes when i have a guitar I just find fantastic flowing chords sequences, somehow i jsut do and it takes 2mins. I believe it depends on how much emtion you are feeling and also on what you have learnt in the past. I beleive that subcontiously (spelling) i am using all the tab's/techniques/+ my ears to arange music. The more you know the easier it becomes to write. WoJ
    great article, i do agree waiting for it to get better is one of the best techniques for some of my songs like "alone" (soundclick.com/darrenelliott) or some of my other ones. I think people should read this before sitting down and hoping that you can write one within a fre minutes...maybe you can write the intro or the main peice but nothing will make it sound good with words at that point!!
    what i do for writing music, is i keep a huge amount of random ideas in power tab and let my subconsious mind to write the songs, so to speak i always end up with intros and alot of the time i dont know where to go from there. i havent studied music theory yet, so all of my songs are CR*P but they get progressively better, hopefully. ...i dont know where im going with this...so imma end the message