Songwriting Session Guide

Here is another installment of the Songwriting Survival Guide.  This time we’ll look at how to make the co-writing experience as productive and enjoyable as possible.  Whether you are new to collaboration or have done it a million times, here are five tips to help you nail your next songwriting session.


Have a blast

Getting to write songs together is such an amazing privilege.  Creating music is a gift, especially with friends and even strangers.  But many times our insecurities keep us guarded and we start writing like we have something to prove.  That can kill the fun really fast. 

Somedays we might not even get a song, but as long as we had a great time, I’m ok with it. 

There will be another day, another song. 

One of my favorite parts of songwriting is collaboration.  Honoring each other, having a blast, and checking your ego at the door makes for a great day of writing.  For me, better songs come out when I’m enjoying the process.  



I almost always try to bring a melody or lyric idea into a writing session that can be a jumping off place.  Of course, there are times when we write completely from scratch, but more often than not, we are running with an idea that someone has brought into the room.  Usually, we all have an idea that we came with, so we just go through them and decide which one we all want to work on. 

Carve out time every week to stockpile song ideas that you can bring in.  Also, I give myself a good amount of time the morning before each co-write to see if anything new falls out.  Sometimes, it’s a quick one minute burst of inspiration. 

Coming prepared will help jumpstart the creative process, making for a great session.      


Give Every Idea A Chance

We all listen to music through the filter of our own personal style, preference, and taste.  But, that filter can also make us musically narrow-minded and keep us from hearing something extraordinary. 

This is helpful to remember when coming into a co-write, because if you have the attitude that your idea is the best, you might just miss the genius coming out of your co-writer. 

A songwriting session should be a free place to let the good, bad, and ugly ideas fly out, with no fear of judgment. 

Be careful not to shoot down an idea so quickly.  Let it simmer with you.  Give it a chance.  Some of my favorite songs I’ve been a part of came from giving my cowriter’s idea a shot.  


Be Ready To Work

When the songs don’t come easy, be ready to roll up your sleeves and go to work.  Usually, it’s racking your brain to find the right concept, word, phrase, sing-ability in a melody, then doing it all over again. 

In those times when you just need a breakthrough in the song, it’s easy to zone out and keep checking your Instagram feed.  I’m a firm believer that there is a time for that, to take a break, take a walk, get a new perspective. 

But I’ve also found the importance of always fanning that creative flame in a session, and sooner or later it will turn into the fire you’ve been waiting for.  Songwriting is perseverance, and it's always better when writers are ready to put in the work to make something amazing.


Bring Donuts

Lastly, donuts make everything better.  If those aren’t your go to, then substitute coffee.  Or just do both. 

Whichever one you choose, bringing a box of goodies or coffee into your session goes a long way.  Generosity sets the right tone for a co-write, and communicates that you care more about the person in the session than the song you will get.  

Also, don’t forget to save one of the donuts for later.  There’s nothing like having that afternoon pick-me-up, sugar rush to get you through the end of the day.