How To Write A Song With No Experience

How To Write A Song With No Experience

Since the beginning of time, songwriting has been a tool used to pass along stories and express life’s journey. Some songs comment on societal issues, while others are just simply about the joys of a Sunday morning. There are so many different approaches to writing a song. Some people begin with a lyric or melody that pops into their head, while others initiate the process by experimenting with chord progressions on their guitar or piano.

The step-by-step method outlined below offers a straightforward approach for beginners seeking a simple, structured method.

girl playing guitar

Songwriting Tools You’ll Need!


Purchase a notebook that inspires you. It should be something you want to pick up and pour your most honest thoughts and feelings into. Here are a few great options for you to consider when looking to purchase a notebook of your own. 

  • Monogrammed Notebook
  • Colorful Notebook
  • Monogram Wrap Journal
  • College Ruled Notebook

Pens and Pencils:

Selecting a specific pen or pencil might impact how you view your lyrics. 

Fun fact: Taylor Swift writes her lyrics in three different types of pens. Each pen represents the genre she is writing in. Here is what she had to say about each pen:

  • Fountain Pen: “The songs I categorize in this style sound like confessions scribbled and sealed in an envelope, but too brutally honest to ever send.”
  • Gel Pen: “Frivolous, carefree, bouncy, syncopated perfectly to the beat, Glitter Gel Pen lyrics don’t care if you don’t take them seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously.”
  • Quill Pen: “If my lyrics sound like a letter written by Emily Dickinson’s great-grandmother while sewing a lace curtain, that’s me writing in the Quill genre.”
  • Graphite Pencil: The famous American lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim amusingly stated: “I work entirely with Blackwing pencils for a number of reasons. One is it’s very soft lead and, therefore, wears down very quickly, so you can spend a lot of time re-sharpening them, which is a lot easier and more fun than writing.” This pencil was also the one American author John Steinbeck used!
  • Mechanical Pencil: Using a mechanical pencil is another excellent option to enhance the songwriting process. This Pentel Mechanical Pencil is popular amongst songwriters online due to its comfortable grip and twist-up eraser. Available in three different lead sizes.

Phones or Tablets:

If you are more into technology, using an app on your phone or tablet is an amazing tool to write down your lyrics. Some individuals prefer writing lyrics using apps due to the convenience of copy and paste, which simplifies the process of typing out choruses again. Another benefit of using a phone app is its convenience for quickly jotting down lyrics when inspiration strikes while out in public or away from your journal. Here are a few app options for you to choose from:

  • Apple Notes
  • Evernote
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Simplenote
  • Obsidian


Voice-Note App: The most important tool of the songwriting process is having something to record your progress with. Use an app to track each melody or instrument accompaniment you come up with. You can label each recording (“Verse 1,” “Bridge Idea,” “Full Song”)  to keep it organized. 

  • Apple Voice Memos
  • Google Play Voice Notes
  • BandLab
  • Digital Audio Workstation (more on this later!)

How To Write A Song

Being a fan of music is the first step to writing music. When you turn on your favorite songs, what feelings do they stir within you?

There are a lot of different answers to that question, given the vast array of songs suited for every mood. Assessing these feelings is the key to deciding what you want to say in your song. How do you want your song to feel? What story do you want it to tell?

1. What do you want to write about?

What are you currently going through or thinking about that you would like to explore more? Are you experiencing heartbreak? Are you stressed from your job? Are you falling in love? Did you have a fun Saturday night with your friends? Pick a topic you feel will be the most inspiring space to write from in your current reality. It truly can be about anything you want, but make sure it is very specific.

For this guide, let’s write a song about falling in love with someone who makes us feel on top of the world. They entered unexpectedly and have changed everything. 

2. Choose a title (optional)

Don’t worry, picking a title at the start of the songwriting process does not mean you have to keep it. The title gives you a great starting point. It allows you to form a structure. As you write your song, you can see how it forms and pick a new title at the end if need be.

Our song title can be “Too Good To Be True”

Exercise: Write a poem based on your title

A great exercise is to write a simple poem before writing your song. Lyricists can learn a lot from poets because of their ability to show and not tell. Writing a poem can clarify your topic and allow you to come up with rhymes. You can later take these rhymes and imagery to your lyrics.

3. Learn the structure of a song to begin writing your lyrics

Pop Song Structure

Verse – Chorus – Verse – Chorus – Bridge – Chorus

The Verses

The first verse is often the first thing the listener hears. It is the first thing you will tell your audience. You want to grab attention here and pull them in. The second verse allows for the expansion of the first verse and chorus. 


Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence”

“Hello darkness my old friend / I’ve come to talk with you again.”

Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

“Is this the real life? / Is this just fantasy?”

Our original, “Too Good To Be True”

“I looked beyond all I knew and standing in the stretch was you.”

We are introducing the concept and characters to our listeners with this opening line.


A pre-chorus separates the verses from the choruses. It often has a different chord progression and melody from the verse and chorus. It builds anticipation for the chorus. Sometimes, songwriters skip over the pre-chorus.

Katy Perry, “Firework” 

“You just gotta ignite the light / And let it shine / Just own the night / Like the Fourth of July”

Our original,“Too Good To Be True”

“You came out of nowhere / Now you’re all I want to see / The only sound I want to hear / Everywhere I want to be.”

This part can be simple, general lines. Just let it flow effortlessly.

The Chorus

The chorus is the most essential part of a song. It serves as the climax and repeats at least twice, providing structure. The chorus is often the most memorable part of a song, so artists try to make it catchy and easy to connect with. Dave Grohl says the chorus is like a bumper sticker; it catches you and sticks with you. Most of the time, the chorus mentions the song’s title, and that is why it is called the “the hook.”


Dolly Parton, “9 to 5” 

“Working 9 to 5 / What a way to make a living.”

ABBA, “Dancing Queen”

“You can dance / You can jive / Having the time of your life / Ooo, see that girl / Watch that scene / Digging the dancing queen.”

Our original,“Too Good To Be True”

“You’re a California sky / A liquified sunshine / I melt in the presence of you / You’re the stars in my night / A glittery twilight / I gaze in your wondrous view / Like a dream that’s shining through / You’re way too good to be true.”

Mentioning the title in the chorus is always key to hook your listener.

The Bridge

The bridge presents songwriters with the chance to give additional information. Something revealing or playful that offers dimension to the composition. Some writers skip over the bridge of a song, opting for an instrumental part. But the bridge can truly make a song even more special than it was.

Taylor Swift, “All Too Well”

“And you call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.”

Outkast, “Hey Ya”

“All right now, fellas, what’s cooler than being cool?”

Improve your lyrics

  • As mentioned before, show, don’t tell. Use imagery to encourage your listener to use their imagination. This will make your song more engaging and immersive. Imagery is meant to paint a picture in one’s head through vivid storytelling. In “Bigger Than the Whole Sky” by Taylor Swift, rather than saying, “I am laying down, crying” she says, “Salt streams out my eyes and into my ears.” This is way stronger and more compelling.
  • Similes and metaphors strengthen lyrics by revealing a greater meaning. A simile (“Like a virgin / Touched for the very first time.”) compares two things using “like” or “as.” A metaphor (“You ain’t nothing but a hound dog / Cryin’ all the time”) directly compares one thing to another.
  • Use idioms to strengthen your message. An idiom is an expression with a different meaning than its literal meaning. Justin Tiimberlake’s “Cry me a river” uses an idiom as the title and all throughout the chorus.
  • Rhyming supports the structure of a song, and strengthening your rhymes might really improve your composition. Investing in a rhyming dictionary could help your songwriting.


Grab your instrument and start playing chords that suit the mood of your song. If you do not play an instrument, call a friend who does and make this a co-writing session! Your chord progression does not have to be complex; simplicity can be powerful. “Let It Be” by The Beatles is a profound song with a simple chord progression!

Starting with a four-chord progression will get your song right up there with all the other great pop songs you hear on the radio.

Figure out the melody

At this point, you should be figuring out the melody of your song. You can approach this while playing chords and improvising a melody over them or by speaking your lyrics out loud and seeing how they sound when adding a breathy tone to them. This can be referred to as “vocal doodles,” and you should doodle until you feel it suits your song.

Record a demo (optional)

Once everything is written, record a rough demo using a digital audio workstation software mentioned in the helpful resources section below. You will need a laptop, headphones, and a microphone to do this. Start by recording the instrumental accompaniment, then layer your vocals on top. This also allows you to incorporate vocal harmonies and additional instruments as desired. T

his is a great way to hear everything all together. Practice your song a few times before you start recording. You want to make sure you lay down the accompaniment confidently once you hit the record button.

Play your song for a trusted friend or family member

Once you feel your song is ready, share it with someone whose feedback you trust and value. This person can provide you with a fresh perspective and help you further enhance your musical composition. Do not get offended if they come back with criticism, this is just their opinion and it does not mean your song isn’t good. Selectively incorporate the advice that resonates with you and continue to believe in your work. 

Writing a song can be a fun and cathartic process, offering an opportunity to release your innermost thoughts and emotions. Madonna says it best, “Songwriting is a really intimate experience, it’s kind of like sitting down with a stranger and telling them every secret of your soul…you have to be not afraid to make a fool of yourself.” Embracing vulnerability is key. Once you let go of inhibitions, creativity flows freely.

After completing your first song, the next ones will come more naturally. Rhyming your lyrics and composing melodies will become more effortless. Writing music is one of the greatest forms of communication, and using this guide will assist any beginner sharpen their skills.

Other Helpful Resources

Additional Music Software

Using a digital audio workstation software (DAW) for music production and audio recording might seem complex at first, but will become easier to do with practice. These softwares allow you to record, edit, mix, and master your tracks to get them to an industry standard. While some DAWs can be costly, there are free alternatives available:


Now that you have the DAW software, it is time to get a great microphone to go with it. Microphones play a crucial role in the quality of recordings, and finding a studio-grade condenser microphone for your home will give you that professional sound. Here are a few microphones that you can simply plug into your USB port.

  • Audio Technica
  • Shure MV7


It is important to have a set of studio headphones when you record your vocals, as they allow you to isolate your voice from the other sounds while ensuring you can hear the accompaniment. Here are a few reliable options as well as an adaptor for you to plug them into your laptop for simpler use:

  • Sony MDR-7506
  • Audio-Technica
  • Cable adapter for laptop


Here are a number of great books to help improve your next musical composition.

  • Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison
  • Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice by Pat Pattison
  • How to Write One Song: Loving the Thing We Create and How They Love Us Back by Jeff Tweedy
  • Songwriters On Songwriters by Paul Zollo
  • The Addiction Formula A Holistic Approach to Writing Captivating, Memorable Hit Songs by Friedeman Findeisen

Author: Madison

Madison is a singer/songwriter born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender & Women’s Studies with a concentration in Media and Communications. As an independent recording artist, her music has received critical acclaim from the likes of EARMILK and Wonderland Magazine. Apart from her involvement with Ensemble Performing Arts, Madison performs shows across California.


Start your musical journey today