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Elaine Lennon's Top 11 Tips for Aspiring Songwriters - find your own creative wings!

Updated: Feb 19

Hello there aspiring songsmiths and newcomers to the world of songwriting!


Crafting your first song with melodies that linger in your mind and lyrics that ignite your creativity!…..Wow - sounds like quite the daunting task, doesn't it? But fret not, even seasoned pros have faced the dreaded blank page with uncertainty.


Whether you're an aspiring songwriter already on your musical journey or a beginner, a newcomer with no experience, or someone just about to dip their toes into the world of songwriting - don’t worry, I’ve got you back!


Elaine Lennon's Handwritten Lyrics for her song 'Little Bird Little Sailor'
Elaine Lennon's Handwritten Lyrics for her song 'Little Bird Little Sailor'

Let's get started!


Go grab your pen and notebook and get ready to play a chord on your piano or strum on your guitar! Let's set sail on this little musical voyage together and find your songwriting wings!


I've compiled my Top 11 songwriting tips, based on some of the valuable lessons from my own journey, infused with insights from the Grammy-winning artists and top UK songwriters I've had the honour of working with - I've added some quotes from well-known names who've navigated the route to songwriting success and there are even some exercises to kick-start your creativity! Dolly Parton is one of my favourite all time songwriters and I often find myself asking the question 'What would Dolly do?' as I write! That little gem isn't on the top 11 but it should be! lol!)


Ready to unravel the mystery behind writing your first song? Let's dive in and unlock the magic!


Dolly Parton Quote on Songwriting
Dolly Parton Quote on Songwriting

1 - Start with what inspires and excites you!


Begin by tuning into what songs excite you - the one that makes you break out into your happy dance when you hear it—whether it's a melody that sticks in your head like glue, lyrics that make you laugh or cry, a rhythm that makes you tap your feet, or a tune that just makes you feel alive! Listen to your favourite songs and pay attention to what you love most about them - what makes that song stand out? Then dive into your own musical playground by tinkering with melodies, jotting down fun or interesting words, or drumming up beats on your kitchen table.


Try this - listen to songs known for their catchy tunes like "Happy" by Pharrell Williams. what is it about that melody that draws you to it and makes you want to listen over and over? Once you feel inspired, try writing your own catchy melody or riff of your own, focusing on creating something memorable and engaging you just want to dance and sing along to!



John Legend Quote on Songwriting
John Legend Quote on Songwriting


2 - Melodic Magic


Let’s chat about melodies, the magical ingredient that makes songs stick in your head like peanut butter on toast! Think of melodies as the catchy tunes that turn your song into a musical adventure (think happy dance again). Picture yourself as a melody wizard, waving your wand (or guitar pick) to conjure up tunes that sparkle and shine. Instead of just humming random notes, try creating a melody that feels like a rollercoaster ride—full of twists, turns, and unexpected surprises! Keep it simple then go from there—just pick a few chords on a guitar or piano and hum a melody to go with it. You don't have to make it perfect right away. Just have fun playing around with different sounds and see what happens! Start by writing a basic chord progression on guitar or piano and humming a simple melody over it. Focus on creating a strong foundation for your song, and then gradually add more layers and complexity as needed.


Try this - if you're new to songwriting, start with a simple chord progression like G-C-D and experiment with different melodies over it. Once you have a solid foundation, you can add additional instruments or vocal harmonies to enhance the song. Test it out with a simple nursery rhyme like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and experiment with changing the rhythm or adding your own twist to it. Don't be afraid to let your imagination run wild and see where your melody takes you—it's like a musical treasure hunt with endless possibilities! So, grab your musical wand and let's sprinkle some melody magic into your songs!


Rod Stewart Quote on Songwriting
Rod Stewart Quote on Songwriting

3 - Lyrics - the secret sauce


The lyrics are like the secret sauce of your song: They add flavour and make it pop! Picture yourself as a lyrical chef, cooking up a storm in the kitchen of your imagination. Dive into memories, silly stories, or even the drama of broccoli vs. pizza showdowns. Then, sprinkle some musical magic onto those words by giving them rhythm and rhyme, like adding glitter to cupcakes! It's all about finding the perfect blend of words and melody, like creating a potion that makes everyone want to dance. So, grab your imaginary chef's hat and have a go at whipping up some lyrical delights! Sing your lyrics out loud to a simple tune that pops into your head, like a spontaneous melody that gets you dancing round the kitchen! Lyrics can be a tricky one - even Rod Stewart was quoted to have said 'I deliberate over the lyrics; I really do. I'll come up with one line a day, and then it might be a couple of days before I come up with the rhyming line' so don't worry if the lyrics don't come easy! Just keep going!


Try this - if you wrote a poem about a rainy day, sprinkle it with vivid and descriptive imagery finding words that make your heart dance in puddles. Remember ‘Show don’t tell’!



Taylor Swift Quote on Songwriting
Taylor Swift Quote on Songwriting

4 - ‘Show Don’t Tell’ - the Songwriters Golden Rule:


Imagine you're not just writing a song, but painting a vivid picture with your words and melodies, like a storytelling wizard with your trusty music wand in hand. You're not just recounting tales; you're conjuring vibrant scenes that whisk your listeners away to fantastical lands - instead of simply saying how you feel, show it through descriptive imagery and emotive storytelling. . It's like being a wizard who can make a rabbit appear out of a hat, except instead of just saying they can perform tricks with a "Ta-da!" you wow the audience with your spellbinding illusions that make them feel like they have been part of something spectacular.


Try this - next time you're scribbling down and crafting your lyrics think of yourself as a master storyteller, whisking your listeners away on an enchanting journey filled with emotion, imagery, and unforgettable melodies.


Johnny Cash Quote on Songwriting
Johnny Cash Quote on Songwriting

5 - Capture all your ideas


Ever get a great idea for a song but forget it later? Try keeping a special notebook or voice recorder just for your song ideas. Make it a habit to remember and record any song ideas that come to you throughout the day, whether it's a catchy melody or a few lines of lyrics. Whenever inspiration strikes—whether you're on the school run on a work break or playing at the park—record your ideas right away. Set aside time each week to review your recordings or notes and turn those ideas into full songs.


Try this - start to hum a made-up melody, any melody as you wander throughout your day - on the school run, going around the supermarket (my favourite place to write songs!)....see if you can get that melody to stick in your head - get your phone out and record it while it's fresh in your mind. Listen back to the recording later and flesh out the melody with chords and lyrics.


Bob Dylan Quote on Songwriting
Bob Dylan Quote on Songwriting

6 - Draw from your experiences


Your life is your inspiration. Think about something cool or exciting that's happened to you recently or reflect on a significant event or emotion from your life. Maybe it was a fun day with friends or a special moment with family. Use those feelings to write a song about it and brainstorm ways to express it through music! Write down specific details, emotions, and imagery associated with that experience, and use them as inspiration for your song lyrics. You can even draw pictures or make a collage to go with your song (you never know - those drawings could become part of your release artwork!).


Try this - if you recently experienced a moment of joy, write down what made you happy and how it made you feel. Then, use those emotions to write a song that captures the essence of that moment.


Gary Barlow Quote on Songwriting
Gary Barlow Quote on Songwriting

7 - Listen to lots of music & be inspired by everything


Music comes in all shapes and sizes—just like you! Try listening to different kinds of music genres & styles, like pop, rock, or jazz. Notice how each type of music makes you feel and what you like about it. Then, try using those feelings to make your own music. Pay attention to the songwriting techniques and musical elements that stand out to you, and consider how you could incorporate them into your own songs.


Try this - If you typically listen to pop music, try listening to some jazz or classical music for inspiration. Notice how different genres use melody, harmony, and rhythm to create unique sounds and moods.


Tom Morello Quote on Songwriting
Tom Morello Quote on Songwriting

8 - Have fun and challenge yourself to try new things


Making music is all about having fun! Don't be afraid to try new things and make mistakes along the way. Sing silly songs, make up funny lyrics, or play around with different instruments. The more you play, the better you'll get! Collaborate with others - making music with friends is even more fun! If you are totally knew to songwriting ask a friend or family member to help you write a song. Take turns coming up with ideas or playing different parts of the song. For those aspiring professional songwriters, reach out to a fellow musician or songwriter and ask if they'd be interested in co-writing a song with you. Share your ideas and brainstorm together, and be open to incorporating each other's strengths and perspectives into the final song.


Try this - if you're a guitarist, collaborate with a lyricist or vocalist to bring your musical ideas to life. Or if you play an instrument, invite a friend who sings to collaborate on a song. Experiment with different musical styles and techniques, and enjoy the process of creating music together.


Lewis Capaldi Quote on Songwriting
Lewis Capaldi Quote on Songwriting

9 - Take breaks


Take breaks when you need to: Making music can be tiring sometimes, especially if you're working hard on a song. It's okay to take breaks and do something else for a while. You'll come back feeling refreshed and ready to make even more music! It’s a good idea to discipline yourself and set aside dedicated time for songwriting, but also give yourself permission to take breaks when needed. If you find yourself feeling stuck or frustrated, take a short break to clear your mind and recharge by doing a totally unrelated activity.


Try this - if you've been working on a song for a while and feel stuck, take a 15-minute break to go for a walk or listen to some music for inspiration. Sometimes stepping away from your work can help you come back with fresh ideas and renewed energy


Tracy Chapman Quote on Songwriting
Tracy Chapman Quote on Songwriting

10 - Don't worry about being perfect


Don't be too hard on yourself! Remember, the most important thing about making music is having fun! Don't worry if your song isn't perfect or if you make mistakes. The more you practice, the better you'll get. Just keep singing, playing, and having fun! Remember that songwriting is a journey, and every song you write is an opportunity to learn and grow as a musician. Don't be afraid to experiment with new ideas, and don't judge your songs too harshly - you turned up to right and that’s the most important step.


Try this - if you're struggling to write a song, remind yourself that it's okay to take your time and that not every song will be a masterpiece. Focus on expressing yourself authentically and enjoying the process of creating music.



James Taylor Quote on Songwriting
James Taylor Quote on Songwriting

11- Keep going and keep learning


Keep building your skills and put time in your diary each week to develop your craft and visit my other topic-specific blog posts on Writing, Recording & Releasing your music. Check-in on my updates to find out what projects I’ve been working on and ask any questions in the comments sections - I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can!


I’m constantly creating and developing new resources and little bird little sailor merch to help you on your songwriting journey too - from inspired notebooks (to write down all your creative ideas) to the ‘Little Bird Tea Strainer’ (yes - a tea strainer I know - so very British!) to encourage all those creative ideas to fly into your brain as you make your tea on that much-needed break!



Dolly Parton Quote on Songwriting
Dolly Parton Quote on Songwriting

My parting gem of advice - remember to stay open-minded and have fun with the process, and don't be afraid to explore new ideas and techniques along the way!


These are just a few high level tips inspired by my own songwriting journey that I hope you get value from to help you develop your songwriting skills and expand your creative wings as a songwriter.


What to do now?

  • Go practice some of the 'Try this' prompts now!

  • Head to my SHOP to check out which resources could add value to your journey right now!

  • Sign up to my Newsletter to get notified when a new blog post or update is available!

  • Keep checking on my blog content as I'll be adding lots of top tips on writing, recording and releasing music as well as tips on photography that could be of value when it comes to creating artwork for your releases!

  • Follow me on Spotify or your preferred music platform!

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