You can be very successful at writing lyrics if you use just some basic, simple strategies. Just take a look at how designers, marketing pros, writers, or other prolific creators managed to come up with the most brilliant ideas over and over again.
Brilliant ideas don’t come from magic, and also you, if you prepare in the right way, may get some brilliant ideas for the most catchy song lyrics.
Take a closer look at the following tips on how to write superb song lyrics, even when it’s not your good day. What also may help to see if you have the talent to be a creative writer, is taking a talent and aptitude quiz to see if this direction could be your ticket.
Phase 1: Collect Raw Material
Practically all song lyrics begin with a vague emotion or idea, but the question here is how that can result in completed and compelling lyrics. Well, your vague ideas are your starting point, so gather some raw material that connects to your idea.
Now this may seem obvious, but to write good lyrics, you should have a full understanding of your subject, and this is an often ignored element in the process. Most writers just consider a few words, ideas, or stories that may fit the idea, and prematurely move forward.
If you want to learn more on how to gather raw material properly, read the book Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison who recommends to make worksheets, a great way to help you gather specific material. There’s also a video by Pattison available here on this topic.
In short, his recommendations are to first create a longlist of words or phrases that express your ideas best, then trim that list to the best dozen or so, and then check your words in a rhyming dictionary. This work is the basis for your lyrics.
phase 2: Look for Patterns
Before you’ll jump to this phase, be sure you’ve gathered all your raw material, as in this phase, you’ll be working through all of it. Check out all the different phrases and words on your list, and try to absorb them in your mind. Now learn which associations come up in your mind. What sort of emotions, experiences, facts, connotations, stories, or ideas are coming to you?
This process may also be helpful in pairing several words from the list, and you should be searching for ideas within those pairings. No matter how incomplete or crazy these (partial) ideas may seem, write them down.
They may very well be foreboding a real idea that’s to come. Now let the wheels start spinning in your brain, let the subconsciousness within you work hard in the background and deliver some creative, fresh ideas.
phase 3: take a step back
After all these exercises you need some time to relax, to rest, so take a step back. The subconscious you will continue to work on your lyrics, though you may not be aware of this. You need to let your conscious mind rest a little, though, so ideas and themes may get back to you as you start to work on your ideas again.
So stop working entirely on your ideas, and try not to think about the lyrics at all, and please don’t also work on things that are related to your lyrics. Take a break, go to the gym, get some sleep, take a walk outdoors, read a book, do anything you like, as long it’s not related to your lyrics. Fact is that usually, the best ideas don’t come up at a desk, but in the middle of doing something else in life.
phase 4: Build Up the Lyric
So usually a brilliant idea (or a lyric) strikes you when you’re taking a shower, while you’re walking, when you’re doing the dishes, or you’ll wake up in mid-night, struck by an ingenious idea. When this is happening, write it down out without delay. These are the inspirational moments.
There are times, though, that you need to sort of ‘kickstart’ your inspiration. If you are really well-prepared, rested, and still nothing comes to your mind, it may be time to ‘create’ your inspiration. The process is actually pretty simple: go to your desk, sit down, get a sheet of paper, and write some terrible first draft of a lyric.
Usually you feel like burning this seemingly worthless paper immediately, as the idea that someone may find what you wrote may be fearfully awful. Well, let me tell you, everybody writes terrible first drafts.
The importance lies in the fact that by forcing yourself to write a first draft, you kicked your brain into gear. First you were having nothing, but right now you’re holding something to start working with.
Generally, when you’ve been painfully writing some terrible lyrics for an hour or so, you’ll suddenly get struck by a few inspired lines, and your preparation is the key reason for this to happen. So stay focused, keep on working, and you’ll be successful!