Many songwriters get stuck on learning how to write song lyrics because it can be a daunting part of the songwriting process. Lyrics can expose deeply personal areas about your thoughts and emotions, so it can be scary, especially as a nonproven artist.
Still, it’s these unique ideas that your listener will connect with the most!
Writing Song Lyrics
While songwriting is challenging, it should be rewarding and enjoyable too. There are ways you can create great lyrics without worrying about external pressures. Lyric writing is a skill. No matter where you are now with it, you can always write more confident and more meaningful words in your songs.
The tips below for writing those song lyrics will help you create music that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. People want to hear about the stories you want to tell!
1. Write Down Song Ideas
It’s difficult to want to write a song with no ideas to get you started. Lyric writing is made easier if you have some words you’ve written down or recorded that you might want to use.
As you live your life, song ideas can come from anywhere. Great songwriters are always attentive to words people say, a line in a book or a poem that moves them, and their emotions. When these words come, you can keep a small notebook where you write them down. You can turn those words into songs.
Keep a small notebook or use a note-taking app on your phone wherever you go to save your potential ideas. When you are able to sit down to write, you’ll have a notebook full of ideas to help you initiate your creative process.
2. Write With Your Senses
Writing with your senses means you write from your taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. Sensory writing gives people the feeling of being in your shoes as you perceive things. Whether it’s a profoundly emotional experience, like a breakup, or if it’s a song about what you were like as a child–you perceive life uniquely with your senses.
Sensory writing will help you describe experiences in ways that people haven’t thought of before. However, it will forge a deep connection with your listeners. Some of those listeners will feel the same way you described in your song.
3. Write What You Know About
Your best lyrics will come from a place of sincerity. Writing about subjects and experiences that are important to you helps you find the words you want to say in your song.
It’s difficult to pretend that you know how an experience or an emotion is like when you haven’t been there yourself. It’s immediately apparent to your listener when you’re singing about something that you don’t quite understand.
Your songs will connect with people better when they are stories about things you care about. Consequently, those who share similar experiences will love your lyrics.
4. Write Conversationally
Some people get stuck with lyric writing because they believe their words have to be poetic. The truth is, writing how you speak and how other people speak is all you need to do. Conversational lyrics help you keep your songs as concise as possible.
Honesty is another factor when you write conversationally. People can tell when you’re trying to be poetic, but you’re not saying what you want to say. Songs that aren’t conversational tend to have unnecessary lyrics. When you write melodies, extra lyrics mean you have to develop a more complicated melody than the section needs.
Don’t worry if your lyrics aren’t the most poetic yet–that might come later. For now, write using the words you would say to people you care about when you express yourself. These words will come across the most naturally when you sing them. Those who listen to your songs will know that those words are coming from you.
5. Write the Chorus First
All songs have some kind of structure that they follow. Many variations have come up over the years as the structure is a part of songwriting that continues to evolve.
Common Song Structures
- Verse 1, Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 2, Bridge, Chorus 3
- Verse 1, Verse 2, Chorus, Verse 3, Chorus 2, Bridge, Chorus 3
- Chorus 1, Verse 1, Chorus 2, Verse 2, Chorus 3 Bridge, Chorus 4
- Verse 1, Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 2, Chorus 3
Following a song structure will help you organize your lyrics. Usually, song verses introduce characters and the song’s story, while choruses talk about the song’s main idea.
Writing the chorus first helps you understand what you’re trying to write about. The chorus is where the main emotion, idea, and hook of the song is. Your chorus will inform your verses and your bridge about what to set up the listener for in the story.
Also, since your song’s chorus will likely return a few times throughout the song, writing this part of the composition can help you conquer half of the song. If you can write this section and feel great about it, it will give you confidence in finishing the song.
Be sure to warm up your voice before singing any lyrics you write!
6. Finish The Song
Refrain from judging yourself as you write your lyrics or your song in general. Even if you’re having a hard time, it’s not fair to yourself if you judge the song before it’s complete. Keep in mind that as you write your lyrics, you can always go back and rewrite lines or entire sections later on.
Also, keep in mind that no one has to hear your song if you don’t want them to. Even if you don’t like or use the lyrics you write, finishing a song allows you to practice sensory writing and writing conversationally. You might not like the song as a whole, but you might like certain lines or sections of a song you can use later.
While it may seem like a gift that some people have, and some don’t–writing better lyrics is something anyone can improve. Use these tips to try out creating some songs for yourself, and be sure to work on it further to get better at writing song lyrics.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.