I’ll preface this list by saying that I KNOW you’ll look at each one of these, and immediately think of a pre-existing exception. So I’ll clarify my intentions. This is a list highlighting what should not be done EVER AGAIN. Even if it was a good idea once.
10 Critical Songwriting DON’Ts
- Unless you’re a woman named Maria, do not put any women in your songs named Maria.
- Do not write about, or even mention, walking on water.
- Do not write genre songs about a genre (e.g. do not write a blues song ABOUT blues music; do not write a rock n’ roll song ABOUT rock n’ roll music, do not write a jazz song ABOUT jazz music, etc.)
- Do not write songs about waitresses or prostitutes with hearts of gold.
- Unless you’re younger than 11, do not ever use the word “hater” in a lyric, or mention any social media platforms.
- Do not co-write with Diane Warren.
- Unless you’re Van Morrison, do not write choruses made up of words that are not words (Sussudio and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, I’m looking at you)
- Do not straight up copy someone else’s song and say you wrote it (Led Zeppelin, I’m looking at you)
- If you’re a comedian, don’t write songs. (Pay special attention to this order. It’s not necessarily a DON’T if you go the other direction.)
- Do not rhyme “love” with “dove.”
Abide by these rules. Thank you.