After almost two years of trying to write my own songs, but failing to produce anything worth keeping, I began to look at my technique. One thing that I noticed is that a lot of the songwriting advice that can be found on the Internet, while useful to hot girls who play all acoustic songs, are very useless to normal people. I began to question all of the advice that even great musicians have given me over the years. The truth is there is no one right technique. However there is one that I have developed that seems to work for me...
Step 1: LISTEN!!!
Find music that matches your mood. If you are calm, listen to reggae or jazz. If your girlfriend just dumped you, listen to blues. If you are feeling really friggin awesome, listen to metal. The list goes on and on. These are just suggestions. The truth is, you can listen to anything, as long as it inspires you. This first step is crucial for the rest of the process.
Step 2: Analyze
Once you have a few songs that inspire your creative process, outline the song structure of each of them. Take note of the rhythm, harmony, and melody used in each part of the song. Is the melody ascending or descending? Is the rhythm played in straight 8th or 16th notes, or is it in a weird 7/8 time signature? Is there a common pattern in the harmony (I like to use the 3rd interval), or is it seemingly random? Outline what is going on with every single instrument in the song.
Step 3: Select
What parts of each song inspire you? After outlining and analyzing each song, this part shouldn't be to hard.
Step 4: Copy
That's right. Many of the world's greatest musicians (John Frusciante for example) copied (within reason) from other musicians. Take the parts of the song in the previous step, and try to duplicate their sound.
Step 5: Make It Your Own
This is the part where you become part of the song. Make small adjustments, until you have something that sounds original, and sounds so great, that you are on the verge of achieving legend status(once you are done with it of course).
Step 6: Clean It Up
It is one thing to have inspiring parts of different songs put together, but it is another thing entirely to make them sound good together. Maybe you can find similarities between song parts. Or maybe, just maybe, you want to use your main riff to blend different parts together. This step takes some practice to get down to perfection.