Quotes on Songwriting (Get Inspired & Write Better Lyrics)

Are you looking for inspiration to write your next masterpiece? Looking to improve your lyrics and songwriting abilities?

Check out our list of songwriting quotes for motivation and inspiration from fellow artists and write your best song yet.

“Songwriting is my way of channeling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn’t get some of that stuff out.” 

Dolly Parton

“It’s the ability to recognize valuable accidents that’s the key part of songwriting.” 

Dean Friedman

“My songwriting and my style became more complex as I listened, learned, borrowed, stole and put my music together.”

Boz Scaggs of The Steve Miller Band  

“For me, songwriting is something like breathing: I just do it. But that doesn’t mean you’re fantastic.” 

Adam Duritz, Counting Crows

“It’s very helpful to start with something that’s true. If you start with something that’s false, you’re always covering your tracks. Something simple and true, that has a lot of possibilities, is a nice way to begin.” 

Paul Simon

“Country is three chords and the truth, punk is three chords and anger.” 

Caitlin Rose

“You wind up creating from silence, like painting a picture on a blank canvas that could bring tears to somebody’s eyes. As songwriters, our blank canvas is silence.” 

Rodney Atkins

“I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is.” 

Leonard Cohen

“I have a structured songwriting process. I start with the music and try to come up with musical ideas, then the melody, then the hook, and the lyrics come last. Some people start with the lyrics first because they know what they want to talk about and they just write a whole bunch of lyrical ideas, but for me the music tells me what to talk about.”  

John Legend

“You’ve got to write a bad song to get the good ones out!”

Lizzy Ward, Ward Thomas  

“For a songwriter, you don’t really go to songwriting school; you learn by listening to tunes. And you try to understand them and take them apart and see what they’re made of, and wonder if you can make one, too.” 

Tom Waits

“I tried to look at writing a song almost like solving a mystery. The song was there, buried somewhere in my brain. All I had to do was follow the clues until I figured it out.” 

Jon Skovron

“Most of the music is really personal as far as the emotion and the experiences that I’ve had in my life, but most of the themes in the songs aren’t that personal. They’re more just stories from TV or books or movies or friends. But definitely the emotion and feeling is from me.” 

Kurt Cobain

“For me, songwriting is something I have to do ritually. I don’t just wait for inspiration; I try to write a little bit every day.” 

Sean Lennon

“Don’t make it a stressful thing and force yourself to write songs. Sometimes the most impressive stories and phrases come out of thin air.”  


“Songwriting is a really intimate experience, it’s kind of like sitting down with a stranger and telling them every secret of your soul…you have to be not afraid to make a fool of yourself.”  


“I let the music decide what the words are gonna be. But I have spent a lot of time and effort on the lyrics, because I’m not good at it.”

Ben Folds  

“I hope that what it comes down to at the end of the day is that people believe that I believe what I’m singing. It comes down to being believable.”  

John Mayer

“Each song has its own secret that’s different from another song, and each has its own life. Sometimes it has to be teased out, whereas other times it might come fast. There are no laws about songwriting or producing.” 

Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)

“It’s therapy. It’s fun. It’s creative. I love getting on a big writing binge and staying up a couple days working on song and knowing at the end of those two or three days that I’ve created something that was never in the world before.”  

Dolly Parton

“Recently I’ve been writing songs stupidly early in the morning because my brain’s not screwed on.” 

Justin Currie, Del Amitri

“When you don’t write songs for a while there’s a fear you won’t be able to do it again.” 

Tim Wheeler, Ash

“When you write a song… you’re sharing some of your life with the listener” 

Nina Baker

“I write about love, and everyone knows what it is like to have your heart broken. Heartbreak can definitely give you a deeper sensibility for writing songs. I drew on a lot of heartbreak when I was writing my first album, I didn’t mean to but I just did.”  


“Sometimes ideas are coming so fast that I have to stop doing one song to get another. But I don’t forget the first one. If it works, it will always be there. It’s like the truth: it will find you and lift you up. And if it ain’t right, it will dissolve like sand on the beach.”  


“I could go three months without writing a single song and in one week I’ll write twenty. But I never want to write a song just to have a hit. I write a song because I want it to make me feel better. Other people have different ways of letting off steam. Mine is writing songs.”

Ed Sheeran  

“I don’t really know that there’s any real rules for songwriting.”

Amos Lee  

“People say that the word ‘orange’ doesn’t rhyme with anything, and that kind of pisses me off, because I can think of a lot of things that rhyme with orange. If you’re taking the word at face value and you just say ‘orange,’ nothing is gonna rhyme with it exactly. If you enunciate it and make it more than one syllable – or-ange – you could say, like, ‘I put my or-ange four-inch door hinge in stor-age and ate por-ridge with Ge-orge.'”  


“My advice for songwriters? Sit down and work at it! The more songs you write, the more good songs you will have.”  

Roger McGuinn
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Hopefully these songwriting quotes have sparked your next lyrical masterpiece!

Check out our full post on Music Hobbies here for great leisure ideas for your free time!

Looking for a new quirky instrument to mix-up your songwriting process? Check out our list of 12 Wonderful & Weird Musical Instruments here…