SONGWRITING TIPS AND ADVICE ON THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS FOUND IN ALL HIT SONGS

Tag Archives: Diane Warren

John Legend

John Legend believes gaining success as a songwriter is as much about working hard as it is talent.

“It sounds obvious, but there’s this mistaken belief that everything is about talent, but talent has to be cultivated and developed,” he once told Q magazine. “If it’s not nurtured, pushed and challenged it’s not going to happen.”

Legend says he’s proud of the fact that he started work on his career when he was little more than a toddler and insists he will never apologise for being demanding. “I was four and I begged my mom to get me piano lessons,” he told Q. “I was a precocious little kid. There was a lot of music in our house so I think me wanting to play was me trying to be a part of what was going on. It was a chance to perform.”

With his music inspired by the classic soul and R&B music he grew up listening to, Legend says his songwriting process is “almost the exact opposite” of how most other writers work. He believes the music should drive the lyrics.

“Some people start from a poetry base,” he says. “They’ll write a bunch of lyrics, then try to put them to music. I try to develop a compelling musical idea and make the words fit into it.”

He explains: “I usually start playing a melody and find the chords I like. Then I start singing something to it to see what works.

“I usually write the chorus first because that helps guide me into where I want the verses to go. Then I start fooling around with chord progressions for the verse.”

Most established songwriters would agree with John Legend that hard work is the key to success. The initial spark that ignites a song idea is a gift. From then on, it’s all about putting in the hours to get it right. And it calls for an exceptional level of self-motivation and self-belief, as well as talent.

The truly great songwriters just make it look easy. In reality, though, they have to put in hundreds of hours of hard work—making many mistakes along the way—in order to hone their talent and achieve their greatness.

Diane Warren, one of the most successful female songwriters of all time, says she spent 20 years writing six days a week, 10-12 hours a day before she felt she could finally take the occasional weekend off!

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SURPRISING RHYMING – AN ALTERNATIVE RHYMING DICTIONARY FOR SONGWRITERS AND POETS“SURPRISING RHYMING” – The Alternative Rhyming Dictionary for Songwriters and Poets – is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback, and across Europe. It is also available as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle store in the United States, the UK and Europe, as well as Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA) … HERE (UK) … HERE (CANADA).

“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.A 5-star rated book at Amazon, How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, a UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).

FRONT COVER - JPG - 10-8-16 - FINAL“How [Not] To Write Great Lyrics! – 40 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Writing Lyrics For Your Songs” is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store. It is also available from Apple’s iTunes Book Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and Rakuten’s KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA), HERE (UK), HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


DIANE WARREN“I can’t say that I actually live what I write. It is the method actor type of writing that I do. I know what people think and feel so I write those feelings the best that I can.

“I see pictures in my mind and become the character in the song as I’m writing. It’s kind of method songwriting, where you’re the actor in the song.”

—Diane Warren

                      MORE SONGWRITING TIPS

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, Barnes and Noble's Nook store, and from KoboBooks.com.How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music), Barnes & Noble’s Nook store, and from KoboBooks.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).


Macklemore and Ryan LewisWe all have the same 24 hours in a day as songwriters like Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (pictured), so how come they are able to turn out so many hit songs on a regular basis while other writers can’t?

One reason, it seems, is that some writers may have the talent to write hit songs, but they lack the determination, focus and self-discipline to make it happen.

John Legend, for example, believes success as a songwriter is as much about working hard as it is talent. “There’s this mistaken belief that everything is about talent,” he told Q magazine, “but talent has to be cultivated and developed. If it’s not nurtured, pushed and challenged it’s not going to happen.”

Diane Warren, one of the most successful female songwriters of all time, says she spent 20 years writing six days a week, 10-12 hours a day, before she felt she could finally take the occasional weekend off!

Experienced songwriters know how important it is to challenge yourself to write something every day—even when you don’t feel like it—otherwise potential hit songs will never get written.

Establishing a consistent writing habit—making it part of your daily routine—will boost your creativity and productivity, and lead to better songs.

As Burt Bacharach once remarked: “Music breeds its own inspiration. You can only do it by doing it. You may not feel like it, but you push yourself.”

Nick Cave agrees: “I go into my office every day and work—whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant.”

PJ Harvey takes a similar view: “If you want to be good at anything, you have to work hard at it. It doesn’t just fall from the sky. I work every day at trying to improve my writing, and I really enjoy it.”

Of course, no two creative people are the same in the way they find their inspiration. That’s why it is so important to identify the most creative time of day for you. Some people like to write something as soon as they wake up in the morning, when their mind is fresh and full of ideas. Some work better late at night.

The fascinating infographic below—created by Info We Trustshows the daily routines of some of history’s most creative individuals—including composers, painters, writers, scientists and philosophers. It is based on Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals, in which he investigated the rigid daily rituals that legendary creative figures practised in order to carve out enough time, every day, to work their craft.

How does your daily writing routine compare with the creative masters below?

CREATIVE ROUTINES - INFOGRAPHIC

 Click the infographic for larger image

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“HOW [NOT] TO WRITE A HIT SONG! - 101 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID IF YOU WANT SONGWRITING SUCCESS” is available from Amazon as a paperback and also as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple's iTunes Store, and Barnes & Noble's Nook store How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia)  and HERE (Canada).


John Legend believes gaining success as a songwriter is as much about working hard as it is talent.

“It sounds obvious, but there’s this mistaken belief that everything is about talent, but talent has to be cultivated and developed,” he recently told Q magazine. “If it’s not nurtured, pushed and challenged it’s not going to happen.”

Legend says he’s proud of the fact that he started work on his career when he was little more than a toddler and insists he will never apologise for being demanding. “I was four and I begged my mom to get me piano lessons,” he told Q. “I was a precocious little kid. There was a lot of music in our house so I think me wanting to play was me trying to be a part of what was going on. It was a chance to perform.”

He says his new album was partly inspired by the classic soul and R&B music he grew up listening to. He describes the album as “pretty hopeful and pretty optimistic”. “It’s about beginning something new and embracing all the challenges that come with it, the good and the bad. And I’m in that position in my life now because I’m about to get married.”

Legend says his songwriting process is “almost the exact opposite” of how most other writers work. He believes the music should drive the lyrics. “Some people start from a poetry base,” he says. “They’ll write a bunch of lyrics, then try to put them to music. I try to develop a compelling musical idea and make the words fit into it.”

He explains: “I usually start playing a melody and find the chords I like. Then I start singing something to it to see what works.

“I usually write the chorus first because that helps guide me into where I want the verses to go. Then I start fooling around with chord progressions for the verse.”

Most established songwriters would agree with John Legend that hard work is the key to success. The initial spark that ignites a song idea is a gift. From then on, it’s all about putting in the hours to get it right. And it calls for an exceptional level of self-motivation and self-belief, as well as talent.

The truly great songwriters just make it look easy. In reality, though, they have to put in hundreds of hours of hard work—making many mistakes along the way—in order to hone their talent and achieve their greatness.

Diane Warren, one of the most successful female songwriters of all time, says she spent 20 years writing six days a week, 10-12 hours a day before she felt she could finally take the occasional weekend off!

John Legend has unveiled the must-see video for his new single, ‘Made To Love’. It is taken from his new album Love In The Future. Take a look …

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How [Not] To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success” is available from Amazon as a US paperback, UK paperback and as an eBook from Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.

Read a FREE sample of the book HERE (USA),  HERE (UK),  HERE (Australia) and HERE (Canada).


JIMMY WEBBIf you see songwriting as an easy way to get rich quick, you’ll need to think again if you really want to achieve success.

Let’s be clear, songwriting is not easy. And writing hit songs is even harder. As Jimmy Webb (pictured) once observed: “Songwriting is hell on Earth. If it isn’t, then you’re doing it wrong.”

We’ve all heard about people who finished a song in the time it takes to boil an egg and it went on to earn a fortune. Country legend Hank Williams used to say: “If a song can’t be written in 20 minutes, it ain’t worth writing”. Lady Gaga wrote her first single  ‘Just Dance’ in 10 minutes—the same length of time it took the Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston to write the Barry Manilow classic ‘I Write the Songs’.

The truly great songwriters just make it look easy.

In reality, though, they have to put in hours and hours of hard work—making many mistakes along the way—in order to hone their talent and achieve their greatness. Diane Warren, one of the most successful female songwriters of all time, spent 20 years writing six days a week, 10-12 hours a day before she felt she could finally take the occasional weekend off!

The great Sammy Cahn put it like this: “Writing a song can be agony or ecstasy. It can take half an hour or half a year.”

That’s why it’s important to understand that hit songwriting is a process. It’s an art and a craft.

The initial spark that ignites your song idea is a gift. From then on, it’s all about hard work.

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How (Not) To Write A Hit Song! – 101 Common Mistakes To Avoid If You Want Songwriting Success’ is now available from Amazon’s Kindle Store for only US$7.22 or GB£4.78.

Read a sample of the book HERE (USA) and HERE (UK and Europe).

Also available from Apple’s iTunes Store (Books/Arts & Entertainment/Music).