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7 Steps How To Write A Song From The Heart

As a musician and producer, one of my constant questions is how to write the right song, that perfect song that will touch everybody and move their heart and feeling so much that they will want to play it again and again.

A song that people feel so connected to that it becomes their personal hymn. That’s what you want to achieve as a songwriter.

Inspiration, Emotions, and Creativity

Now the question is, is there a formula to do it?

How do you write a song from the heart?

This question has been asked for years and years, and finding inspiration has been a common quest for many artists through time.

Some have called it muse or angel, or like the Spanish, Flamencos have called it “Duende.” The Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca would say about it:

It is…the roots that cling to the mire that we all know, that we all ignore, but from which comes the very substance of art.

The thing is that genuine emotion infused in a song is almost magical, and when this is found, a song becomes timeless.

But writing a song from the heart has been a complicated task, even for classical composers. The French composer Hector Berlioz said about it:

How to find the way to be expressive, true, without ceasing to be a musician; how to provide music, instead, with new means of actions- that is the problem.

Until now, nobody has the right answer; there is not a magic formula that will create that great song that will move everybody’s heart.

Some believe that hard work will take you there, some others that opening your soul and letting the music come to you will be the best you can do.

7 Steps How to Write a Song From the Heart – (The Songwriting Process)

Back to reality and practical situations, I’ve been researching and trying to develop a couple of tips that might be useful for my personal use and for anybody interested in songwriting and producing.

Here are some tips that I’ve found useful, and I wanted to share:

7 Steps How to Write a Song From the Heart

Step 1 – Stop Thinking That You Have to Make a Good Song

Dylan’s song lyric says, “don’t think twice; it’s all right,” which applies so much in music and any art. The less you think, the less you worry about what you want to create, and the more the creativity and emotions will be flowing in the process.

Expectations and assumptions are not good company when we are starting a creative process.

Artists tend to feel a lot of pressure to produce a hit song quickly due to the speed at which music is consumed on YouTube and streaming platforms.

Social media has completely changed the landscape of how music is produced and delivered, and now it seems that an artist needs to be releasing music almost every month.

This is a fact, but we shouldn’t force ourselves to be part of a rat race without paying attention to the whole creative process. Part of being an artist is to have freedom of expression.

I ask myself how much freedom we really have if we are forcing ourselves to do things to be part of the system?

Step 2 – Find Sources of Inspiration

If you are experiencing an emotionally intense situation in your life, writing a song will be a great outlet to release those emotions, either express your happiness or heal your negative emotions.

For example, think about the number of songs inspired by a broken heart or sorrow.

If you feel relatively neutral, you can find inspiration around you. Read a book, watch a movie, listen to your favorite song, go to an art exhibition, or for a walk in nature. Do activities that inspire you to be in the present moment.

All of these elements nurture imagination, one of the essential elements of creativity.

Finding inspiration from your favorite music is also a great idea. One of the most creative geniuses of our time, Albert Einstein, found music the best tool to help his creative process.

albert einstein - 16-01-21

“Einstein told creativity scholar Max Wertheimer that he never came up with new ideas or scientific breakthroughs by thinking in logical symbols or mathematical equations, but in images, feelings and even musical architectures.”

So there you have another good reason to look for inspiration in music.

One of the ways that often helps me is going out to nature for a source of inspiration. We are so immersed in our own worlds all the time, either producing music, on social media, or whatever we do at home. Especially now with this pandemic, breathing some fresh air and observing nature is like entering into a whole new world that helps to feel present in the moment.

Writing music in nature - 17-01-21

Step 3 – Decide on a Concept for Your Song

What do you want to say? If you have something to say, people will listen. The best songs are the ones that deliver a powerful message, a message that is honest and real. When you have a strong concept, you can build anything from there. The producer Bruce Sweiden explains it perfectly in his autobiographical book “Make Music Mine”:

Music is best when it has a story to go with the performance. It should have a feeling of au naturel, but it must first entertain. If it has these elements, it will reach out and touch the listener’s soul.

And finally, always assume that listeners are smart and they will get your message. The songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff said

If you assume people want dumbed-down music, the result is dumbed down. If you assume people are smart, you get moments of brilliance.

Step 4 – Let Your Art Flow

Start creating. Write some words, play some chords on a guitar, or sing a melody line. Whatever you feel is natural to you and your creative process.

Don’t judge yourself; just let your sensibility and ideas flow. Back to the classical composers, Strauss would say about letting your art flow: just let your sensibility and ideas flow.

Back to the classical composers, Strauss would say about letting your art flow:

A poem will jolt me, and a musical idea for it will come to me, often before I’ve finished reading it properly: I sit down; the whole song is done in ten minutes.

I work differently depending on the song. Sometimes I get some words in my head, and I start writing the lyrics right away, let them brew for a while, and then come back to them.

Later some melody might come to my mind, so I go back to those lyrics and start putting them together with the melody. Strangely sometimes both fit right; that’s when I know I’m on the right path.

Sometimes, I come up with a chord progression and melody but have no idea about the lyrics. I do the same process, let them wait for the words to come, and then keep working on it.

In rare cases, the whole song comes to me, and it flows so fast that I know that it can be a good song, and I go for it.

Playing the piano - 17-01-21

Step 5 – Develop Your Message

Once you have a concept and some initial musical idea, work on your message. Write down all the ideas that come to your mind, no matter how long it is; the initial draft will help you structure the lyrics.

Think about some keywords or images that you’d like to use that you feel are powerful to deliver your message. Sometimes looking into some poetry or songs will help to identify strong words.

Once you have your draft ready, you can start summarizing the best of it into some lyrics. Remember that rhythm is an integral part of the language, and what you say is as important as the music you are creating.

You’re looking for just the right word and for that word to occur at just the right place, so you’re saying what you want to say with as few words as possible and yet, have the coolest- sounding word you could say because it was just a cool word to say at that spot in the song.

Step 6 – Follow Your Gut

Once you start on the process, follow your gut. If a path you took on your melody or structure feels natural and smooth, you are on the right track. Overthinking is not a good advisor in this process.

Letting things to your creative self can be scary, but it is an exciting path that can take you anywhere. As Einstein would say, creativity requires taking a “leap into the unknown.”

Step 7 – Decide on Your Song’s Sonic Landscape

Once you have decided on a song structure, think about how you want it to sound. That will help you decide on the verse and chorus arrangements, instrumentation, and production in general.

At this point, references are of great help. You can find inspiration in artists or producers you admire and songs that you love.

Here is when production starts getting really exciting, hearing your words start to take shape in a song.

Home Studio recording set up

Final Words

I hope this article has given you an insight into my process of writing a song with emotion and feeling from the heart.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to write music, so find a process that works for you and express yourself.

With this being said, now it’s time for me to sit down and write some great songs.