Writing Your First Song

Step by step pro instruction for writing your first song.


Even those who have written thousands of songs could benefit from reviewing the basics of what a beginning writer does when writing their first song. Every now and then, someone joins SongTown who is just trying to learn how to write that first song – to turn their own feelings and experiences into music that other people can connect with. So, here are the basics I recommend if you want to write your first song, or your 5,000th.

1) Start with a concept or idea that means something to you. If you don’t care about the idea, it’s unlikely that anyone else will either. It’s always best to write about something that makes you feel something.

2) Turn your concept or idea into a song title. If you are wanting to write about your first love, brainstorm aspects of that story that would be big enough to write a song about. Titles like this might work:

First Kiss

Young Love

One Summer

You are looking for a title that makes a listener want to hear the song. It also needs to be a title that represents the BIG idea or emotion that you are going to write about.

3) Map out your idea. Write a one sentence summary of what you want to say in each piece of the song. In my #1 song “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right”, our map was:

Verse 1 – Women are hard for men to understand

Chorus – I must be doing something right because I’m getting good feedback from you

Verse 2 – Show me how to love you better

The most simple and direct you make your summary sentences, the easier it will be to write the song.

4) Choose a feel or groove to begin writing to. Explore different feels until you find one that fits the message you are trying to convey with your song. A slow, minor feel will not usually work with a happy, fun idea or emotion. You want to find a melody and feel that fits perfectly with the lyric you are going to write.

5) Begin to write your lyric. Make sure that each line contributes to the idea that you laid out in your map. If you come up with a great line that doesn’t fit what you are trying to say, jot it down to use in another song. You want to stay as close to your intended message as you can in each section. That will help insure that your listener is going to get from your song exactly what you intend.

6) Finish your song. Check it to make sure you have stayed true to your intended message in each section of the song, that you kept the same voice throughout (if you started off talking to someone, don’t change and start talking about them), and that you have moved time in a clear way. Run it by a friend or family member and see if they can tell you the main idea of each section.

7) Celebrate having written a song!


Write on!

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter and co-founder of SongTown.com

12 thoughts on “Writing Your First Song

  1. I’m a Christian songwriter and I have written 241 songs in a year and I just don’t know what my next steps are it was prophesied over me I would be a songwriter and that my that my song books are in heaven so I don’t believe that God just giving me the songs to set note book at my house most of them have music some only have words right now but God wakes me up in the night hours that’s why I keep a guitar beside my bed and I’ll have a tune I found them doing a lot a minor E minorC abd G. Whats my next step. Please advise or connect me with someone who can. Victoria Spurlin

  2. I remember writin’ my first one back in 86′. It was a little rockin’ party song called, “Let There Be Rock (& Roll)” and told the story of where the music came from (no it wasn’t AC/DC’s song redone). Back in the day I guess it coulda’ been called “radio ready”, of course that was then. It’s certainly not now in our current radio environment bein’ over 4 1/2 minutes long. But after a bunch of writin’ it was good to go back and see how my style has changed, and hopefully improved. And I celebrated again last night brother (Mother’s Day). I really enjoy readin’ your posts Marty!!!

  3. Wow thank you so kindly really enjoyed the video look forward to more … Typically Lol I am a hungry singer songwriter for growth and knowledge to hone my skills and always improve ! The videos seem to be very helpful at least from watching the first one and I look forward to more

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