Music Production and Promotion Tips

How to Write Lyrics

Posted on | May 2, 2012 | No Comments

Writing the perfect lyrics can be tough, whether you’re a soul singer or a metal band. Perhaps you’re not the most poetic type, but you have an incredible voice and you’re not afraid to use it, alternatively, you could be a band with a frontperson who is reluctantly giving singing a go to enhance your tunes, either way, words dont always flow. On top of the difficulty of actually getting the words on paper, there’s the challenge of fitting it to your melodies and the risk of ridicule if you end up sounding like the Cheeky Girls. Here are my tips on how to write lyrics for your song, whatever your style and genre.

  • Get rid of distractions. Dont listen to music while you try and write lyrics, it doesn’t work. TV and a movie can be distractions, too, and you probably need to focus to create something beautiful.
  • Dont be afraid. Write down whatever comes into your head, it doesn’t even have to make sense (lots of the best lyrics don’t), keep your notebook private and you dont have to show anyone if you dont want to, it can be a really intimate practice, writing lyrics, but you dont have to share it with the world just yet.
  • Take breaks. You cant force creativity. If you are feeling uninspired and dont want to write, the chances are you wont come up with anything decent anyway, take a break and come back fresh.
  • Always carry a pen and paper. Inspiration can strike at any time, so make sure you’re ready for it when it springs itself upon you.
  • Dissect the lyrics you love. Notice any themes? Are they abstract? Do they rhyme? Are they repetitive? Try and recreate (but dont copy) the type of lyrics you love.
  • Experiment. Talking Heads famously cut up lines out of notebooks of gobbledegook and then picked them out of the hat before trying to fit them into their songs, the end result was their 1980 album “Remain in Light”.
  • Read poetry. It might inspire a half-rhyme or a piece of symbolism you’d like to use in your lyrics.
  • Steal from literature. It is done, often. The Beatles quoted loads of the Tibetan Book of the Dead in their experimental phase.
  • Dont worry about rhyming or making sense, focus more on the rhythm and flow of what you’re writing.
  • Experiment with structure and length of your lines.
  • Try it with music and without, this will help you to keep your writing clear in your head but also start to envisage how it will feel in a song, in fact the melody itself might even inspire your next line.
  • Keep going. The chances are you wont be amazing at writing lyrics overnight.

Many would argue that an important factor could be added to the list above…erm…how shall I put this… “substances”. There, that’ll do. Of course, I would never condone the use of any illegal substances, but I’m sure many of the best lyrics out there have been impacted by, shall we say “medical aids”?

Of course, everybody works in different ways, and there is no specific formula. For instance, Morrissey used to write his lyrics like a poem and then make his band structure a song around it. The tips on how to write lyrics above are purely to help you find your own methods and carve out a way to fit words to your songs. Hopefully I’ll get to hear them in the charts!

As always, this article is a work in progress, why not comment below and let me know what has worked for you in your songwriting escapades? You might even help someone manufacture a hit.


Leave a Reply

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts