Link moved to: http://www.votivepraise.com/2012/05/songwriting_16.html
Don't try to write a Top 10 song...
1) Be your harshest critic. Face up to the fact that a certain song or phrase is just plain dumb. Kick it. Punish it. Beat it up and throw it around. Turn it upside down. For gosh sake, don't settle unless it's actually decent. But don't throw it away because you decide you don't like it. It could become the greatest song ever written with a little work.
2) Collaborate. Who are your favorite song writers? How many of them are completely solo? Realize that the best songs of all time across all genres are usually collaborations. Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics and sent them to Elton John. Robert Hunter wrote lyrics and shared them with Jerry Garcia.
3) Cliches and overused phrases make bad songs, avoid them. Even if one of those phrases comes to mind, change it up a little. Sometimes country songs are built entirely on cliches, as if the genre allows it. Do you remember any songs like that? Do you like them? Probably not. Good songs are the ones that have fresh lyrics with surprising and pleasant twists in them.
4) Record which song(s) inspired the one you're writing now. I'm always inspired by other music - every song I listen to makes my mind go wild with ideas. When this happens, and I start to write down words and ideas, I'll put a one-liner in like, "came to me while listening to so-and-so's song x" This makes it easy to get back into the inspirational mode that started the whole thing. It also makes it easier for your song to actually sound like a song...
5) Don't listen to anyone who tells you that your lyric is "from God". I'm sure He's there in the background inspiring you, but it's your song. Why? Because if it's "from God", it doesn't need refining or editing. I can't tell you how many poorly written songs were presented as "from God". David wrote scripture, you and I are writing songs. When you're done, thank God for the song. (Nice paradox, eh?)
6) Model your songs after others. Good songwriting can't/won't happen in a vacuum. Every good song has lineage. It's up to you and I to take that inherited style and change it a little bit. This make for fresh songs that actually sound like songs. (And note that the original doesn't have to be "great".)