There can be no argument that writing lyrics is a very personal discipline – what tends to work well for one person will not necessarily be good for someone else. For some, it can take months to craft a song, while for others, it may only take a few minutes.
Listed below are a few pointers that should help you out. Some are ideas to help you to become more creative, while others are actually rules of thumb. Do keep in mind however, that there are no strict rules to writing lyrics. Rules are always there to be broken, so feel free to do just that.
- Practice, practice and practice – Lyric writing, like other creative art form can be seen as a skill that must be learned and improved upon. As they say, practice makes perfect
- Rewrite, rewrite, and write again – If on the first draft you find that your lyrics are far from perfect, don’t be disheartened. Even professional lyric writers may spend days rewriting lyrics before the final draft is recorded.
- Persevere – You’ll be very fortunate if you write a song and it’s perfect first time around. Ain’t gonna happen. Normally, this process takes time and work – a song is to be created and then sculpted, and only then will it be as you really want it to be.
- Don’t Struggle – If you are struggling with a particular line in a song, simply note down what you wish to see in a rough format, and move along to the next part. You can always return to that line later on. There’s no point struggling for hours on any one line.
- What’s the Song About? – You should have the essence of the song in your mind before you begin to write it. The essence of the song should be easy to sum up in a single sentence.
- Check out Other Songs – Have a look at other songs that are similar to your own. Compare the lyrics of your favorites and if there are any lyrical techniques that may be applied to your own work, feel free to use those.
- Structure and Progression – It’s wise to ensure that your lyrics have a solid structure and progression. Where this is particularly important is with narrative songs – songs that have a storyline. You can test this when you’ve completed the song. Read it through and make sure it makes sense. Give some attention to the ‘science’ of writing lyrics.
- Context – You can create more interest with your lyrics by adding a back-story as a way of explaining a particular situation.
- Perspective – Many song classics describe a particular event within the first verse. In the second verse, there’s more perspective given by telling how this event made you feel or affected you.
- Chorus – With pop music in particular, there’s a different approach taken to writing the verses. In general, these should be easy to remember, and fairly “plain”. During the verse, you can create the setup, and then within the chorus, add the emotional payoff.
Writing lyrics is a challenge. For me, the music part of the equation comes far easier. Keeping these ten tools top of mind helps to spur creativity for me, helpful to get the wheels turning.
Do you have any other ideas?
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