I recorded a song today that I wrote one morning at 4am about not being able to sleep and it took 2 hours(ish), but over the few weeks which was about 3, I made a couple of changes to it, so I am not sure if its hours or weeks!
It really depends on what kind of song. Most classical or instrumental songs take like 30 minutes to an hour, and if they are complex, like a day or two. Songs with lyrics are always ongoing projects. Once, last summer at about 4am, I was restless, and wrote a song that to this day is one of my favorites in about 30 minutes. Then, I have others that take days or weeks. Many still aren't finished!
I don't think I've ever been completely satisfied with one of my songs after the first pass. I usually refine the lyrics and rhythms for years!
I need to word this without it turning into a bash on Taylor Swift .. but
Her songs all have a "formula" to them, they're all going to be about basically the same subject matter, and she's not terribly adventurous with her musical choices .. so it doesn't surprise me that she claims to take only a half hour to write ...
What she doesn't say is that she has a cadre of professional songwriters at her disposal to turn what she writes into a completed song..
The best songs that I have written with my band, just seem to "happen" it's a very stream of consciousnesses kind of approach.. it could take an hour, two hours, or many hours to get the framework of the song .. music, lyrics and vocal melodies and then we tweak it. We're fortunate that we have good digital recording equipment at our disposal, so alot of the tweaks happen as we're recording.
We do eventually settle on things... otherwise it starts to lose cohesiveness...
So just let songs happen, don't overthink it and don't think that there's any set time frame that you have to get it done by..
From all of your responses, it seems that editing your songs is a big part of the process which is essential when it comes to songwriting. I'm curious to know how often each of your write - are we talking every day, a couple of times a week? whenever you feel inspired? Do you have a time a day that you dedicate to writing?
5 years ago, when i wrote my first song "other than love" i wanted it to be selected at my school for the original songwriting competition but it didn't..that's when Aido, my senior told me that although my song had potential, it didn't convey a story..it seemed unfinished.So now i always look for a feeling or a story compelling enough for me to put a tune to it.It doesn't take me long then to write the first verse and the chorus.I almost never plan the second verse..its spontaneous while I'm recording and the same goes for the bridge.And of course the editing..that takes a little time but i try to keep it as simple as possible ..so i would say about 2 hours when I'm feeling inspired.
Sometimes when I'm playing a song I already know..I get an idea for a song and then its pretty much the same process.
It depends on what I'm writing. Getting a first draft down usually takes me anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Revising is a much more taxing process. Classical composition can take me much, much longer as it is a more revision-heavy process for me. I can have a sketch down and a working idea in an hour, but to complete a piece takes a lot more work, especially if it's for multiple instruments. And I still notate by hand first, so that slows me down.
For me it really depends on the song. Sometimes it takes about a half hour, sometimes it takes a couple months. It mostly depends on what I'm writing about at the time—I find the more personal it is, the quicker it is to finish.