How To Write Song Lyrics

8 Songwriting Tips for Great Lyrics

Writing songs is an art that every musician dreams to master. A great song has many definitions and will mean different things to different people. Here are some basic pointers that can help you get started and try your hand at what many musicians have called ‘the most elusive skill’…

  1. You can approach writing lyrics by structure. A lot of songs have a very similar structure, especially certain genres and pop songs. They usually follow the “intro – verse – chorus – verse – chorus” route. Besides this they may have variations like a bridge/interlude or an outro. Understanding the structure will make it easy for you to approach the topic. At the same time, make sure that your songwriting experience doesn’t become mathematical or mechanical. Use this tip just as a way to ease into the process and follow through with it only if you feel comfortable at a creative level.

  2. Always write more lyrics than you think you will need. Why? Lyrics, like all other subjective things, may not seem as great as you thought they were when you just finished writing them. There will be times when you will wake up the next morning and feel otherwise about your endeavor. Either way, it is a start in the right direction…
  3. Song writing is certainly an intuitive and spontaneous process. Always carry a diary or anything which you can use to write down your lyrics – an iPad or a draft message in your cell phone may also work nowadays. You can jot down the idea that you can use as your wet clay to mould into a song at a later day. A lot of great ideas are lost or forgotten because most people think they’ll get to them later…
  4. Everyone will sooner or later reach a point where they just can’t write anything more. This ‘not feeling it’ phase could be the cause of a burn out or just a general dip in creative energy. When struck down by writer’s block just take a break or try collaborating with others. One of the two is bound to work and bring your back on track… Beware: Don’t force yourself to write something (unless you are a professional facing a deadline).
  5. Listen to a lot of music, especially the kind that has great lyrical value. This will help you understand the nuances of the vocalist and how meter, rhyme and other components of lyric writing play an important part in adding to the melody. This will also give you an insight into the perspective of other lyricists and how they approach different topics.
  6. Also, don’t forget that your mind can draw from just two things – a) imagination and b) reality. You need to replenish your perception by experiencing things and not just imaging everything all the time. Don’t lock yourself up or isolate yourself all the time. Meet new people, watch other musicians, travel… you never know how and when inspiration will strike.
  7. Set a goal for yourself to write something new every week. Don’t force a 5 minutes song. 60 seconds will be fine too. Just ensure that you enjoy the finish product because if you can’t connect to the song then it is highly unlikely that others will, when you perform it.
  8. Improvement is the key to success in anything and everything. When you finish writing a song you will need to share it with others to get some feedback. Don’t always approach friends and family members because it is very likely that they will be kind and generous with their opinions. Try having a creative group (other musicians) with whom you can share stuff electronically or in person. There are tons of online forums where you can post your songs or lyrics and get feedback from complete strangers. Such communities can nurture your talent and give you direction.  At the same time, don’t take negativity and skepticism in your stride… just take the constructive criticism and bullet points for improvement and come back better and stronger. Don’t even let anyone tell you what you can’t do.
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