For many musicians and listeners alike, lyrics are generally the focal point of a song or composition. Where rhythm and melody may set a mood or theme, lyrics can tell the full story and lead us to personal epiphanies or memories. If you’re passionate about songwriting, you’re going to want to be able to access this part of your musical artillery with little to no resistance. In this article, we’ll give you a few pointers on how to get the most out of your lyricism. Here are five tips for effective lyric writing.
Write – Just Write
Just like learning an instrument or any other discipline, writing will require some constant repetition and practice. It may seem like a strange concept, but you need to develop the muscle memory that puts your thoughts onto paper and into an organized form. Pondering on lyrics or song ideas won’t matter if they are just left to wander around in your head, and they’ll disappear or distort if you don’t learn how to document them somehow.
Start by free-writing. As the name suggests, this act requires you to open a blank page in a book or on a word document on your phone or laptop.
Write the first strong thought that comes to your head, regardless of how mundane or arbitrary it may seem. Then try to elaborate on that thought by writing whatever ideas stem from your original one. Try to fill up an entire page with this writing, no matter how pointless it may seem, and do this as often as you can.
The idea behind this exercise is to open up the channel between your brain and your hand and to help you train the neural mechanism that encourages you to record your thoughts. Write about anything, describe friends, memories, your immediate surroundings, principles, etc. Just write.
Find Your Inspiration/s
As writing itself is considered an art form, you’ll want to find other sources of art that help spark your desire to put pen to paper. Many artists may feel that the best way to learn to write is to learn from writers who inspire them. Have a listen through a playlist of your favorite artists and figure out which songs have lyrics that strike you. Ask yourself a few things?
1. What is it about the lyrics that you like? Does it have some relation to a personal experience or feeling?
2. Is there any sentence structure, language usage, or rhyming pattern that sounds like something you would naturally write or say?
3. How does the writer use their lyrics to make a statement or paint a picture? Do they follow any musical pieces in the song with their phrasing?
You can also find inspiration in other forms of writing. Many artists turn to film, books, or other forms of expression to build their vocabulary and thought arsenal. Set aside a time where you mindfully seek things that motivate and inspire you to create and keep a notebook or journal with you to get into the habit of documenting your ideas, no matter how small.
When writing lyrics, it’s easy to let our thoughts get lost in the fog of ambition as we’re driven to present an articulate, completed piece as quickly as possible. However, lyric writing is about choosing the best phrases to tell a story, and we can sometimes become paralyzed by choice.
To remedy this, we recommend setting yourself some lyrical boundaries and guidelines that you can use to harness your ideas and best express yourself. Pick a theme, a person, or scene that you would like to write about and lay down as many ideas as you can that surround these concepts. Any other lyrical ideas that don’t fit the context of your chosen guidelines can still be saved separately for later use. Learning how to focus your lyrics on one or two core concepts instead of a random stream of thought will help you produce songs with powerful lyricism. Explore, and then Edit Yourself.
Another important factor when learning how to write lyrics is fearlessness. As with any creative endeavor, songwriters must learn to write without apprehension. The idea of creating something perfect without failing can intimidate creatives into complete apathy and stifle creativity. It’s essential to remain present with your writing and not think about what the finished product might sound like to others.
When writing your lyrics around your song guidelines, leave no thought undocumented. The idea is to throw as much creativity at the wall of your song to see what sticks. Once you’ve built up a surplus of ideas and lyrical content, it’s equally essential to go back and edit your song structure into its most concise, relatable form.
Go back through your written lyrics and read or listen to them from the perspective of the listener. Ensure that there isn’t any excessive word usage or lyrical parts that dilute your song’s concept. Remember that abstract lyricism is encouraged, but not to the point that the listener can’t understand the context of what you’re saying. After all, nobody laughs at an inside joke except the people on the inside.
An excellent way to grow your lyrical abilities is to find other songwriters or producers to work on songs together. The one fundamental advantage this offers is access to an outside perspective. You may find yourself stuck on a particular section of a piece or might not even be able to conjure up a lyrical concept for an instrumental that you have. Having a community of collaborators you can trust will not only keep you motivated to keep writing, but it can be an effective solution to getting you out of most creative blocks or struggles.
Lyric Writing Exercises
● Timer Challenge – Set a timer for up to ten minutes and sit down with your writing pad and paper. Try and see how quickly you can come with a few raw song lyrics, ideas, or song structure within this time frame. The pressure can be a liberating distraction and help you flex your writing muscles under the impression of a deadline.
● Flashcards – Keep a box or container close to you in your writing space. Try and fill up this box with flashcards that contain random thoughts, words, or inspiring pieces of information that you find daily. Then sit down and pick out a few cards randomly to write lyrics that piece them together. This exercise will help you think outside the box and can lead you to some intriguing song concepts.
● Commentate – Watch along with your favorite movies or series and try to write your understanding of the events as they unfold. You don’t have to write a completed song structure immediately. Just try and shape the ideas you have into some coherent rhyme or poetry scheme.
It might be comforting for you to know that even the most seasoned songwriters struggle with lyrics writing at times. However, it’s a combination of perseverance and stubborn curiosity that generally leads them back to the path of inspiration. The only way to write a good song is to keep writing songs until the good ones come out. We hope that you enjoyed reading this article on our five tips for effective lyrics writing.