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When it comes to learning how to write lyrics there are a ton of different ways to skin a musical cat. (Excuse the expression)

The task of writing lyrics can be carried out in many ways. But the good news is, none of them are wrong.

If you are overwhelmed and have no idea how to write lyrics or where to begin…It's okay. We have listed a simple step by step guide below. We thought it might be helpful to show you how it all works, so we have given examples along the way so you have something to follow...

How to write lyrics

Develop an opening line

The first line of your song doesn’t necessarily have to hold much meaning, but it does need to have a nice ring to it. First impressions are important, right? It should be catchy enough to grab your listeners attention.

If you aren’t sure where to start. Pick a word that holds value to you, possibly the core concept of what you would like your song to be about.

If you aren’t sure what you want your song to be about, then pick a topic to discuss. Eg, your break up, your money problems(or lack thereof it seems in modern-day rap) your love for your mother or cat. It can be anything. Develop a simple catchy line around this idea.

Speak the first line, you can start with a generic sentence, statement or question.

For our example, we have chosen the topic of a breakup.


“Don’t say you needed me.”

That was pretty easy right?

How to write lyrics

Develop your second line

Now we aren't going to go line for line here, but the second sentence is just as important as the first.

These two sentences when placed together set up the way in which you rhyme all the lyrics that follow.

A nice technique for writing your second line is to create a sort of “reply” or “response” to your first one.

A standard technique when learning how to write lyrics is to not make the second line rhyme with the first one.

Your third line normally rhymes with the first and your fourth line rhymes with your second. This is called an ABAB rhyme scheme. Check this out if you want to learn How to rhyme.

“Don’t say you needed me,
I always knew that wasn’t true”

We managed to create a rhyme within the second line itself. It's not necessary but it works nicely.
“Knew and True”

How to write lyrics

Rinse and repeat

Allow the beauty of the ABAB structure to fall into place. When learning how to write lyrics, it's helpful to think of it in this way;

Always try and move forward with what you are saying. Expand on what you have said in previous lines, progressing the idea or story.

Don’t worry about where the song is going before it’s gone there. Sometimes songs can just fall right out of us, expressing exactly what we wanted to express. So try not to force the lyrics into a direction they don’t want to go.

If you have something specific you want to say then you will have to find a way to place it in naturally. That idea could be used in a later verse or even in your chorus lyrics.

“Don't say you needed me,
I always knew that wasn’t true,
But still I wish you wouldn’t leave,
Cause I’m holding onto you.”

Sounds quite cheesy we admit. But paired with some silky chords and chord theory it can be beautiful.

You might be thinking. What happened to the ABAB rhyme scheme there? “ME” and “LEAVE” don’t rhyme.

Well, that’s a half-rhyme or a near rhyme. If you sing these two words in a certain way you can give the illusion that they rhyme.

Half rhymes are great to throw in when you are finding your lyrics to be too "rhymey" and over polished. Not to mention it opens up a whole array of words and directions your song can take. You have creative license over this.

Depending on your SONG STRUCTURE. That should be the first verse done. We are going to add in another four lines, just so you can see how it could progress from there.

Notice how our fifth line starts a new direction. Allowing the lines after to interact with it, always progressing the idea.


“Don’t say you needed me,
I always knew that wasn’t true,
But still I wish you wouldn’t leave,
Cause I'm holding onto you.

Do you ever think of me?
I sit and pray that you do,
You never saw what we could have been.
You never loved me like I loved you.”

Damn, that’s pretty depressing. Anyway, its lyric writing and sometimes its most beautiful when sad.

Now that the first verse is done you can move onto the chorus lyrics. Use the same method.

Generally, you will be repeating the same lyrics in every chorus, so take your time getting those flowing nicely.

Here are some tips you should keep in mind when learning how to write lyrics.

-You can be as abstract as you like.

There are no rules on what you write about, as long as it sounds good. The band Alt-j is a great example of this. Look at these lyrics from “Fitzpleasure” We have absolutely no clue what they are on about, but the song is great.

“Dead in the middle of the C-O-double M-O-N,
Little did I know then
That the Mandela Boys soon become Mandela Men.
Tall woman, pull the pylons down
And wrap them around the necks
Of all the feckless men that queue to be the next.”

- Your chord structure and instrument will determine the way your lyrics are written. So whilst you are writing lyrics, have your instrument in hand playing the chords. Sing the lyrics as you go, tweaking words that don’t fit or adding more that do.

- Visualize what you are writing about. It can help to throw in descriptions of what your theme is about. Painting a mental picture for your listener. This helps you get your point across clearer. Think about all five senses, what does something look like? , what does it feel like? what does it sound like? etc.

- Metaphors are widely used in lyric writing. They can be pulsating with emotional and poetic value. So use them, you don’t have to be literal about everything you write. If you take a whole verse to execute a cheeky little metaphor then that’s great.

- Some times its good to leave it up to the listener to decide what the songs meaning is. You can leave questions unanswered, letting the listener answer them in their own mind. Everybody hears and feels things differently so why not take advantage of that and be a little mysterious when writing your lyrics? Let the listener put all the pieces together.

- Write it all down. When inspiration strikes, write it down so you don’t forget. Its the worst when you have a killer line and your mind jumps to another idea and you can’t remember that golden sentence you had in your head a second ago. Don’t think, I'll remember that. Because you might not.

- Take note of what tense you are writing in. It's easy to get mixed up when writing about who went where when. You can write in different tenses of course but try not to bounce between all of them at once. Make it fit within what you are saying. The same goes when writing in third or first person.

- It can be handy to pick a song title before you start. This can help get the ball rolling and inspire your writing direction. This page might help with that, song title ideas.

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