Why Do You Write Songs? And Why Is It Important To Know?

reasons for songwriting_songtown



I have discovered that there are many reasons people write songs.  Sometimes we assume that everyone writing a song must want a major artist to record it.  While that is true for many writers, it’s not the real motivation for many others. I’ve found there are some of the more popular reasons for songwriting?


You feel like you have something to say.

Many people write because they have a message they want to share with the world.  Sometimes the message is religious or moral.  Sometimes it’s an attempt to share something positive with the world.  Other times, the writer is promoting an idea or cause they believe in.

You’re “inspired” to write.

I have had many people tell me that they just “woke up with this song in their head” or that they were “given” a song and didn’t really know where it came from.  Sometimes inspiration just strikes and it seems as if we are simply writing it down as it comes to us.

You enjoy performing and want to perform original songs.

Some people love to perform, but they aren’t into performing cover songs.  So, they write their own material.  Often these people are trying to define themselves as performers.

Writing is therapy.

I’ve often written simply because it feels good to bleed on paper and get it all out. In most of those instances, I had no intention of trying to get someone to record the song or even for anyone else to hear it.  I just wanted to get my stuff off my chest.

You want to hear others sing your songs.

These are the writers working toward the goal of hearing artists record their songs and make money from them.  Therefore, these writers have to work differently, because they are trying to speculate what an artist might say and to become a “voice” for that artist. This is their big reason for songwriting.

Simply love the process of writing.

These writers just like to write.  So they do.  Not for anyone else.  Not to get something worked out.  Just for the satisfaction of having written.

Why do you write?

Discovering your true motivation and reasons for songwriting can help you figure out how and what to write.  If you write for yourself, you write differently than if you are writing for others to perform.  Writing for therapy is completely different than just writing to write. Many of us write for all of these reasons at one time or another.  Give it some thought.  Figure out what causes you to write songs and you’re onto something interesting.

Write on! MD

Marty Dodson - pro songwriter/instructor - SongTown

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

18 thoughts on “Why Do You Write Songs? And Why Is It Important To Know?

  1. i write songs because it gives me a sense of euphoria that nothing else gives me . I just let my mind run as i play my guitar , it’s the. only time i really feel okay with myself or a situation. I love hiding away from everyone and just. play it feels like i’m not. on earth anymore . i love playing my guitar. in the dark . my favorite songs i’ve ever written are called Good Enough , Smile and Sorrows all are songs . I wrote Good Enough about me questioning myself wether or not i’m good enough for this girl , it’s a very sad song it’s very vulnerable . I wrote the song smile about wanting to see your lover happy even if that means hurting you in the process choosing their happiness over yours something i tend to do. I wrote sorrows about this girl just drinking her life away while her world is falling apart and your just watching from behind a glass wall . i’m inspired by Kurt Cobain , Scott Mescudi , Donald Glover , Malcom Mccormick , John lennon & so many more. i love music more than i love myself

  2. The first song I wrote was just because some friends taught me some chords one day and I wanted to impress them with a song…..backfired of course because they tortured me with it every chance they got. Then I started writing because I liked to sing but didn’t feel like learning other people’s stuff. Then I thought maybe I could write something good enough to make money at it…but they were terrible songs. Then I thought maybe a song I wrote could change the world…but that got too serious. Then I wrote and sang in my room because I was an introvert and I needed a crutch. Wrote a lot of awful songs but everyone of them sounded fantastic too me for a day or so…so it was kind of like a drug at that point…complete with the drastic drop in mood when I realized again that they were terrible. Okay…way too much . Now twenty or thirty years later I write because it makes me happy to write…..and I’ve gotten a little better at it at least. I also like compliments but they’re not essential. In summation, I really am not sure why I write songs. Maybe I just have issues.

  3. For me, writing songs is like breathing, I do it without even thinking about it. It’s been this way since I was 13 years old. It’s not that I have anything earth shattering to say, it’s not because I can’t afford a therapist; because I want to be famous or become wealthy in monetary terms.
    I do it because I love to communicate with people. If I can make somebody’s day better through music or get them through a tough time in their life, I feel like I’ve contributed something positive to the world. Without art in the world, life would be a bland, boring gray pallete of existance. I write songs because I want to add richness and value to people’s lives….HOWZAT for a bottom line…Thanks Marty & Clay for starting Songtown, It’s a great place for creatives…

  4. Good question. I also believe think it’s good to know why you’re writing songs since it’s a pretty demanding and hard craft to learn. You really need to stay motivated while learning and knowing why you’re still climbing that big songwriting mountain every day.

    I personally enjoy the challenge of writing songs. Music is just something I like to do as well but I’m not into playing shows so putting all my time for songwriting is a good option.

  5. I used to write a lot but now i hardly ever do it. I maybe have written one or two songs that are actually good but the rest i don’t like. It just feels cheesy or like i’m ripping off someone somehow. Lyrically i got nothing, i just write about how confused i am about everything in my dumb little world. Someone told me i should read more but i absolutly loathe reading. Everyone else just says song just ‘come to them’ i guess maybe it is a special talent for only some people? Anyone else feel this way?

  6. I started writing songs mostly because I was so impressed with the power of some lyrics and/or melodies and I wanted to see whether I could do the same. I started performing in live venues and quickly learned, though, that often the song or songs that the crowds like best may not be your “favourite” one etc. I tried to write about people I’d met, the environment, places I had lived or been. On the odd occasion I entered a competition on a subject I hadn’t even thought about writing and this was hard but very worthwhile as it really focuses your attention. I stopped writing in 1999 for no other reason that I just couldn’t think of anything to write and I couldn’t get into “that zone” where songwriting came easier but a zone where become very introspective and even a little depressed?? Maybe married life and kids was too happy a place to be, I don’t know. Now my kids are older and self sufficient, I promised myself I’d start going out and perform again and perhaps even write a new song (20 year later!). Fortunately, we have a couple of great local venues where live music and original music is welcomed and a couple of people and events have inspired me to start writing again. But, it is a hard and long process for me to write a song and intense in that, once I start, I kinda disappear into myself for a couple of days until I reappear with something very workable or near complete. My latest song still working on it is actually about this exact subject – “To bare my soul anew to total strangers
    In some back room or somewhere on a stage
    I feel unsure, so insecure here in my cage…
    But, if I close my eyes my fantasies can lift me
    To a place where I believe
    That the words I sing, can give me wings and I am free…” Keep writing!

  7. In my youger years I wrote songs because I identified myself as a singer/songwriter, someone who wanted to work in the music industry. That didn’t happen and I became a teacher instead. I was lucky in that I used my musical talent in my profession since I landed a position as a music teacher. When i retired after 32 years I took up songwriting again. Without it I would not be me. It is just part of who I am. (I have written exactly 105 songs in my lifetime inspired by The Beatles, Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, and later Tom Petty)

    1. I too hoped to be successful enough to make a living as a singer/songwriter, but I couldn’t handle the cutthroat competition and maybe wasn’t talented enough anyway? I am a music teacher now but I still write songs. Most of them are crap but I wrote a Christmas Musical last year that my school performed, which was pretty awesome. I literally tried to stop writing at one point because it seemed pointless, but it’s like a disease, incurable… Heh. Occasionally I drag one out for public consumption, but I’ll probably never stop.

  8. I have alway been writing songs because I am usually inspired or I just get bored. Some people can’t write songs because it is vary hard, I can write songs also it runs through my family, my dad plays piano, guitar
    My mom sings
    And I play piano, guitar, violin, bass guitar, and Others

  9. Thanks for this article and comments! I’ve never written a song though I had always thought I’d like to. Just for I’ve been kind of afraid that I couldn’t find good words or a nice melody I’ve sort of given up on accomplishing that. Recently there formed that question inside my head why people actually write songs, probably trying to find an explanation for my hesitation by lighting up a possible lack of officially recognised reasons inside me. Actually I thought by myself that people only write to bring out any kind of strong message they believe should be heard by others, but reading this article here now gave me some confidence to try eventually – like legally just for the experience of writing a song, without any need to be extraordinary, awesome, ready to be recorded at first try or anything like that. Could be I put too much pressure on me or misunderstood the idea of songwriting in a too narrow way. Anyways, just wanted to express my gratitude for this article and comments.

  10. I write songs to express a thought that is hard to put into a plain old sentence. I would then use a melody to heighten the emotion of the topic. Sometimes the lyrics arrive first or maybe a bass line, however it is never a linear process.Back and forth a lot. Old material blends with new material. It is quite an ethereal experience.

  11. I write songs because they are a way of expressing how I feel and the stories i see that I feel just need to be heard honestly the only art form that comes so naturally to me

  12. I’ve been writing songs since the age of ten and I can’t put my finger on the reason why I do. It seems so natural to me that I often wonder why there are people that can’t write songs.

  13. The reason’s have kept changing over the years for me. Days of youthful angst were filled with songs imploring the world to care about the issues i believe. I thought there were people who need to be heard, and i could be their voice. But that obviously,didn’t make any difference 🙂

    I had stopped writing songs for a couple of years in my early twenties. Then they came, one at a time. And they did just come. Maybe i was an one off comment that opened the window, but i seemed they were sitting there . Most of them were love songs,songs of hopeful yearning,songs of commiseration ,some songs of incredulity.
    But then they stopped again. Ironically, it was because of an one off comment by a person i dearly loved. I had no clue why i would matter so much,but it did. It went in ,sat there, and would ring louder than any words whenever i thought of writing anything.It was this voice that said” No body cares”. And i believed it. I really did not believe i would write again. And i didnt. For more than year.

    And then it came back. I was talking to a a friend of mine who does who does experimental philosophy, and it was something she mentioned about an experiment done in 1974.
    When i was walking back home from her place, there was a song that just came. It seemed as though it was just sitting there.All this while. For the world to make sense again. Even if, so very briefly.

    I would be really happy why others write, and about the times when they cant.

  14. I write songs because, similar to how a spider weaves its web at a young age, it has always been second nature to me. I am a very word-oriented person, and when I find words that make sense together, a song seems to swirl around inside me, making it hard to exist without getting it out. The lyrics, melody, chord progression, time signature, and rhythm structure all form simultaneously then pour themselves onto a messy page in my songbook. Only I know what my shorthand symbols mean, and that’s truly a beautiful thing.

    I don’t write because I want to be famous or hear famous people sing my songs, I write because it is a byproduct of my existence.

  15. I am a song lyricist working with bands & artists the world over & I write as I believe there are still things to say, or emotions to express that haven’t been covered by others or in the way that I write them. Also, it is an art form that changes with the seasons & the years the things that I am inspired or feel a deep need to write about. Of course there are constant universal feelings that are expressed in each and every song that is written or will be written but some are unique to the writer for instance over the years I have written with various writer’s songs about the Holocaust that my father in law experienced as a survivor of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, anyway all my stuff is at http://www.paullyrics.com if you’d care to lean in & take a look:)!

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