How to compose sublime lyrics for your songs

//How to compose sublime lyrics for your songs

How to compose sublime lyrics for your songs

Lyric writing is often romanticized by songwriters.

Some believe that unless you live your life, collect memories and let the words come to you in moments of bursting inspiration, your songs won’t come out true.

Experienced songwriters don’t sit around and wait for those moments, because they know better: learning how to play a musical instrument requires plenty of practice. The same is true for the skill of lyric writing.

Turns out, there is a way to prevent writer’s block, after all!

1. Keep a lyrics journal

If you’re on a mission to improve your lyric writing skills, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is to keep a lyrics journal, and carry it with you everywhere you go.

If you’re on a mission to improve your lyric writing skills, the biggest favor you can do for yourself is to keep a lyrics journal.
Sometimes, even writing down your most mundane thoughts in prose form can help you put together lines you would have never thought of otherwise.

2. Write down anything and everything

Nobody has to witness your thought process, not even in co-write sessions. Face the facts: unless you let yourself scribble away, you might be staring down at your paper and playing with your pen for a long time.

Writer’s block usually stems from creativity-related insecurities, and many songwriters believe that it’s just a phase. In reality, it’s no different than spiraling down when you’re in a bad place.

As is the case in most situations, confronting your feelings and ideas head on is the most productive way to handle it.

3. Free write and highlight

Free writing is such a great exercise to get your creative juices flowing. Some of your best lines might come from free writes, and fit into your songs as perfectly as puzzle pieces.

You can select anything from a special memento like a necklace to an emotion like melancholy or joy to focus on each time you sit down to brainstorm in this manner.

Usually, picking a very specific item or theme will help you come up with unique ideas each and every time. Try this as a daily or weekly exercise, and give yourself 20-30 minutes to see what comes out!

When you’re done, read what you put on paper, and highlight your favorite sentences. Those are the gems that will come in handy when you’re ready to write your next song.

4. Get a rhyme dictionary

Rhyme dictionaries can be immensely helpful when you’re searching for the words to continue a rhyme scheme in your song.

Reaching for a rhyme dictionary instead of trying to figure it all out on your own in moments like these can lead to some happy surprises too!

Writer’s block usually stems from creativity-related insecurities.
Sometimes, the initial word you want to end your line with, even though it doesn’t quite fit in your verse, can be replaced with a better rhyming choice that will give a whole new meaning to your story.

5. Map out your song structure once you have a section to work with

Determining your song structure ahead of time can help you see the bigger picture from the get-go.

You have the lyrics for a potential Chorus in your hands? Start thinking about what comes before and after it.

Do you think it’s going to be a Verse / Chorus / Verse / Chorus / Bridge / Chorus type of song? How many measures do you think you’ll spend on each section? Write it down, and fill in the blanks!

You don’t have to stick to all the decisions you make—this is just another practical method to streamline your writing process.

6. Pick a theme, story or scene to focus on

Staying focused on a cohesive theme is one of the biggest challenges for lyric writers.

Staying focused on a cohesive theme is one of the biggest challenges for lyric writers.
Once you have one section figured out, you should contemplate its main message and think about how else you can expand on it, instead of introducing a new story or a new theme in the other sections.

7. Let your Chorus, Hook or Refrain do the work

There’s a reason why Chorus sections tend to repeat, often word for word. The Chorus is where the summary or the conclusion of the story and the main message of the song is expressed.

Even if you feel the need to say more go with a short and sweet approach.

Remember: in any genre, the repetitive lines in every song are supposed to be the most memorable and catchy. In a lot of situations, even two or three lines repeating throughout the Chorus may be just the thing you need.

Here’s an example of how Selena Gomez uses this strategy in the Chorus sections of her new single, “Lose You To Love Me”. The title of the song is so concise and well-thought-out that it deserves its proper moment to shine.

When you listen to the song as a whole, you still get the opportunity to find clues about what transpired between these two lovers in the Verse, Pre Chorus and Bridge sections. But the Chorus just highlights the theme of the song without trying too hard.

8. Paint a picture with your words

Literary devices such as imagery, simile and metaphor aren’t just for Folk and Country writers.

Sometimes, you can sum up what you want to say in a few lines and may not know where else to go from there.

If you’re writing about a memory, you can use imagery to explain the details of it. Is it about a warm day on the beach? Tell your listener how the ocean smelled that day, or how the warmth of the sunlight made you feel.

Or, if you’re a more abstract writer, you can vividly describe your emotions via devices such as analogy and metaphor.

Want some inspiration? Look no further than Sia’s collaboration with David Guetta, “Titanium“. The song gets its title from the chorus that’s built around a very unique and iconic metaphor: “I am titanium.”

You can even reference a well-known fictional character in bits and pieces and build your song around it, like Rihanna does in “Consideration”.

She opens the song with the lines “I came fluttering in from Neverland / Time can never stop me, no, no, no, no”, referencing J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan series, and even takes it one step further by juxtaposing that very notion she put forward with the line “Why you ain’t ever let me grow?”

9. Make it your own

Adding a line or two that’s unique to your life story will not only add dimension to your songs, but also take it to a level where no one else can touch it.

Kacey Musgraves sings, “Grandma cried when I pierced my nose” in “Slow Burn”, and no one else can ever write such a line because it’s a part of her own life story.

When incorporated seamlessly, these kind of snippets can become the most appealing and precious parts of your songs.

10. Take the number of syllables into account
Perhaps you have amazing ideas accumulating in your brain, but you’re inclined to write them in prose and having a hard time when it comes to putting them into a song structure.

If this is the case for you, taking the number of syllables into account might be just the constraint you need to create more singable lines.

Start thinking like a lyric writer instead of a prose writer.
Now, this doesn’t mean all the lines in your song have to contain the same number of syllables, of course; it just means that you can follow a formulaic approach.

For example, if you listen back to Rihanna’s “Consideration”, you’ll notice that the Chorus lyrics can be broken down into a lyrical formula that looks like this:

2021-03-02T10:23:22+00:00 Vocals|0 Comments

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