How to write song lyrics

So you want to know how to write song lyrics?
We know we know, writing lyrics can be a tricky task. But when you break it down into bite-size chunks that daunting feeling can melt away leaving you with a honey pot of lyrical content.

If you are looking for an in-depth guide to lyric writing then check out this page, how to write lyrics.


Here are a few things to remember when tackling the task of writing song lyrics.

How to write song lyrics

Don’t overthink and over complicate things -
Take a chill pill.

If you are struggling to get words onto the page, don’t overthink or over complicate things. You do not need a literary degree to write engaging lyrics. In fact a lot of the times the simpler the better. A lot of the most successful songs ever written have clear and simple lyrical structures.

A great place to start is sitting down and writing anything that comes to your mind. A musical stream of consciousness if you will. You can handpick the more poetic sentences that come naturally.

From there this will spark songwriting ideas that you didn’t even know you had in you. There will more often than not be something on your mind that will resonate and excite you.

That's normally the idea that you should expand on. From doing the opposite of overthinking you have found a topic to write about.
Keep this relaxed attitude throughout the whole writing process. If things pop into mind as you go, write them down.

Don't over complicate the process by thinking the song has to be about one specific thing either. You can drift to and from your core concept as you please. Try to make the little side notes as coherent as possible though.

Just relax and start getting stuff down on the page.

How to write song lyrics

Sing the words as you write them down-
Even if you suck at singing

Singing what you have written down on the page keeps you focused and tuned into the writing process. It often becomes easier to get the following lines down once you know how the previous one “sounded”.

The way you sing something can affect the way you structure a sentence or even what words you use to rhyme with it.

Check out this page, how to rhyme for a more in depth guide.

Near rhymes are a good example of this.
Take the infamously hard word to rhyme:

ORANGE, and the word KNOWLEDGE.

If you read these two words one after the other they don’t sound like they rhyme. But just by singing them you can get a feel for how lyrics can rhyme depending on how you pronounce things when you sing.

Singing what you have so far can open up avenues for your song that wouldn’t have been opened if you had simply just read them in your mind.

This simple tip can smoothen the songwriting process if you are stuck figuring out how to write song lyrics.

How to write song lyrics

Get inspired-
Look around once in a while

Getting creative and staying creative is an important part of writing song lyrics.

Listen to other musicians lyrics, read some poetry, listen to speeches, basically become aware of what people are saying around you.

In an interview with lead man of Dire Straights, Mark Knopfler explained how his hit song “Money for nothing” was inspired by something he overheard a man saying in a tv store.

There is so much around us that can spark ideas, and it’s not a crime to steal a sentence or two here and there. (Obviously, you can’t take lines from Bohemian Rhapsody and pass them off as your own) But you get the idea.

Get into the habit of always being on the lookout for great lyrical content in your day to day life. Keep a list of interesting things you hear and see, and use them!

The same goes to coming up with song title ideas. Keep an eye open for great little song names that present themselves.

How to write song lyrics

 Trust your instincts and ear

You’re a smart cat. You know what you enjoy about other peoples music. So back yourself and write something that means something to you. If it’s something you have felt, chances are someone else can relate to that feeling.

If a lyric sounds great but doesn’t carry much meaning then trust your gut and weigh up style over depth. Some times a line doesn’t have to serve a purpose other than sounding cool. (Especially when writing a chorus)

It works the other way around too. If something doesn’t have weight to it and weakens the lyrical structure then don’t settle with it just because you can’t think of anything to rhyme with the previous line. Here's a brilliant example:

In Twenty-one pilots “stressed out”

I wish I found some better sounds no one's ever HEARD
I wish I had a better voice that sang some better WORDS
I wish I found some chords in an order that is NEW
I wish I didn't have to rhyme every time I SANG

Those last two lines deliberately do not rhyme. The depth of meaning here outweighed the need to rhyme,
And it carry's home the point he was trying to make perfectly. Damn, they are good!

Trust your ear and write and structure your lyrics in a way that sounds good to you.

How to write song lyrics

Take time out

If you are getting flustered, take a break.

Writing song lyrics can take time. Days, months or even years. Don’t pressure yourself to get it all finished at once. Go about your business and keep it in the back of your mind.

Different scenery and situations can bring fresh ideas. As stated before, keep a pad or phone handy to get your ideas down when they pop up. You have got to give your mind time to cool off.

So take a break, you have plenty of time to become the Grammy award-winning artist you want to be. But you aren't going to get there by rushing your lyrics. So pump the breaks when needed.

How to write song lyrics

Break it down Baby

Instead of writing an essay, break the song down into manageable chunks. Pick a rough song structure and work from there. You can then write accordingly and know how and where your words should fit together.

You might see that you have written to much and over complicated things. You can then whittle down your work keeping only the best lines. It can help to see how a song is mapped out.

It can let you know if the lyrics are coherent enough or sometimes too coherent and boring.

How to write song lyrics

Don’t be afraid to write bad Lyrics

It will only hinder you if you put pressure on yourself to write a hit song straight away. Chances are you will write some pretty bland lines before you write good ones.

Don’t give up, just keep going because inspiration will strike and you will get better and better at it.

Ed Sheeran once said that songwriting is like running a facet in an old house. You run it for a while until the dirty water has cleared and clean water starts to flow from the pipes.

Wise man that sneaky ginger.

But that’s the reality, you are going to write some terrible songs but the good ones will crop up once in a while.

You will be writing better lyrics in no time.

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