Inside My Songwriting Process

Written by Chelsea Sisson

“How do you write a song?”

It’s a difficult question for a songwriter to answer. Often, it’s not only different for each song writer, but different for each song.

Perhaps the Greeks had it right when they coined the concepts of muses as the source of inspiration for artists & philosophers. In my experience, I’ve rarely had luck when I sat down with the intention of creating a song. I have to wait for inspiration to strike, always at the most inconvenient times, when I’m scrambling for a napkin or a bit of paper to capture that inspiration before it disappears.

I would consider my main instrument to be my voice, and, as such, the vocals are usually where my songwriting process begins. I usually have a “catchy” chorus or hook that grasps onto a certain concept. As a general rule of thumb for me, if a hook/chorus stays in my imagination for at least a week, it’s usually worth expanding that idea into a song. Sometimes I end up tossing aside those songs later as “not good enough”, but I never throw any of my drafts away. I’ve come back to a song I dismissed for a line or two on more than one occasion, so I think it’s important to keep all ideas around to reference.

Of course, there are songs I’ve written differently. There are songs I’ve written after I created a rift on a guitar, a chord progression, etc. And there have been songs I have deliberately written because I wanted to explore a style. For example, recently, I’ve been exploring writing songs in higher keys to explore my softer, head voice. (For those of you that have heard any of my music, you know that I tend to be more comfortable on keys considered lower for a girl.)

I have an idea of the rhythm I want when I write a song, but, for me, the rhythm is the last part of the song I perfect. I think that’s the product of writing without a drummer – I might reverse the process if I had one to write with. The lyrics and melody are the easiest part of a song for me to create—the rhythm bit is always the hardest for me because it comes less naturally.

Hope you enjoyed a peek into my head during the songwriting process! Hear some of the songs I’ve written here: