How To Get Started With Writing Your Own Songs Even If You Are Not Advanced

Most people think that you have to be really amazing to write your own songs. You hear things like “you have to have natural talent” or “you either have it or you don’t” which isn’t surprising since there are even a lot of guitar teachers out there who say “writing songs can’t be taught or learned”. 

Or some may know that is possible but they just have no idea where to start. After that they think they do not know enough and therefore have to learn more things before they can start writing songs.

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None of these things are true at all. If you had to have natural talent then there would only be like a couple songwriters and musicians every hundred years or so. We all know that is completely false. And no one is born with all the skills need to write a song, not even the people you listen to or the musicians you hear about all the time on the radio. 

And of course, writing songs can be taught and of course it can be learnt, because again, nobody is born with the ability to write a song. Think about it, no child is born with the ability to even talk, how can they be born with the ability to create music? What does this mean to you, it means that writing songs is a learned skill, not a born superpower and that you can learn how to do it.

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But that only begs the question, where do you start? Well chances are if you are not a complete beginner, you do not need to know more things to get started. You just need to know how to use the things you already know. Getting a great guitar teacher who can help you with this is essential for your long term growth as a musician. Here is something to start with:

Know what chords are in each major key

Okay so you do require some music theory knowledge but not much. To get you started here are chords in the key of C, G and D

C Dm Em F G Am Bdim

G Am Bm C D Em F#dim

D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim

Choose from chords 1-6 from any key. You can start with 3 or 4 chords in any order.

I would leave out the diminished chords for the time being as these chords are a little strange and requires a little more knowledge to use this effectively. But if you choose any chords 1-6 in C major for example, you can start writing multiple songs without even touching your guitar. Sound to good to be true? The vast majority of music out there is a few simple chords.

Make sure you do not just stick to 1 key! You can find different ideas from all 12 keys. Experiment.

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Want to write something sad? Use chords minor keys instead.

This is not too hard either. Again this just requires that you learn about what chords fit into the minor keys. Here is something to start with. Pick any chords (apart from dim) in any order in any of these keys

Am Bdim C Dm Em F G

Bm C#dim D Em F#m G A

Dm Edim F Gm Am A# C

This should be enough to get you started. This is how a lot of songs are written. Get writing!

About the author: Jake Willmot teaches guitar lessons in Exmouth, Devon and when he is not teaching he likes to write his own music and even plays onstage with his band.