4 Songwriting Tips From Seasoned Pro Marty Dodson


I’ve been a professional songwriter for more than 20 years.  In that time, I’ve learned a lot by making lots of mistakes.  Here are some tips that can help you learn to write better songs WITHOUT making the same mistakes I made.

Write From Your Heart – Edit With Your Head

If you try to write from your head, you’ll have a song that feels stiff and doesn’t make your listener FEEL anything.  The key to connection with an audience is to make them feel something.  Feelings cause us to take actions like purchasing a CD, playing a song on Spotify, or downloading from iTunes.  They also cause us to dance, laugh and cry.  When a song moves people, they can’t help but respond.  That’s what you are ultimately after as a writer.  So, write from your heart and THEN, edit with your head to make sure things make sense and that you are communicating with clarity.   And, don’t make the mistake of editing with your heart.  That tends to result in songs that are emotional but don’t communicate clearly.

Use Every Tool At Your Disposal

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard songwriters say “I’m not using a rhyming dictionary – that’s cheating.”  That’s silly.  Finding the best possible word for your song is the most important thing.  How you find it is irrelevant.  I wrote a #1 song in which we had been stuck for a long time and I found a rhyme in my online MasterWriter rhyming dictionary that made the song KILLER.  The checks were the same as they would have been had we spent four hours trying to come up with the rhyme on our own. There is no shame in using every tool available to make your song great!

Write About Things That Matter To You

Songs are always going to be better when the writer cares about the topic.  I’m a pescatarian, so writing a song about Barbecue is not going to work for me.  I don’t eat it and I don’t care to talk about it.  On the other hand, I am in love with my wife and I’m crazy about my children.  I can write passionately about those topics.  It’s great to stretch yourself as a writer and not write the same three topics over and over, but don’t drift off into areas you don’t care about.  That won’t likely work.

Listen To Feedback

Don’t be that writer that thinks “I write songs better than the ones on the radio” and won’t listen to feedback that tells them otherwise.  You can only grow if you find trusted mentors and you take their advice to heart.  If you ever reach the point where you think you have it all figured out, you are in trouble.  Look at songwriting as a life-long learning experience and you’ll always have room to improve.

Try those tips and see if it improves your songwriting.  And, check out SongTown online when you get a chance!

Write on!  Marty

Marty Dodson
SongTown Co-founder/Pro Songwriter/Music Fan

15 thoughts on “4 Songwriting Tips From Seasoned Pro Marty Dodson

  1. I always think I write from the heart but when it comes to editing that’s a whole other game I’m not the best at it to say the least. There are times it seems like I can write a complete (what I believe is a song) in a few minutes then there are times I struggle to get a word or phrase to rhyme. I have also been told my writing is too cathartic does this make a difference? Your advise is great but even as a struggling writer of poem and prose how does one go about getting it seen and as your nail in the wall metaphor get published it has been a struggle. Any advise on the how to?

  2. I love good fish too brother!! Thanks for these tips Marty. And I agree you should use whatever you can to make the story the best it can be because getting the story right is the main thing both rhyme wise and how it flows. I’m fairly good with the English language, but I’m no dictionary. And isn’t that a reason for co-writing? To have someone else help when you get stumped? Is that cheating?!! If so then the Nashville songwriting community is full of “cheaters” right? LOL

  3. It was very valuable having you Marty & your Co-founder of SongTown staging with us in CO for the Durango Songwriters Oct2018 Expo… Thank you for all you do for Songwriters & especially for one of my favorite songwriters, Glenda Hanson of Woodbridge, CA… she promotes SongTown more than any soul I know!
    … and your SongTown works & has moved her to an impressive level of freedom & creativity.
    I’m VinceWest.US
    Serving DSE EXPO & F&TV Showcase

  4. I have two country songs on MP3 I have Christmas lyrics and about seven other songs I have my songs on my Facebook page and on SoundCloud

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *