When it comes to songwriting, there are music and lyrics. Different songwriters will find it easier to writing one over the other depending on their strengths. Some people are more musically inclined whereas others are better at expressing themselves through the written word. It’s not a given that you’ll find more ease with one or the other; while I was an English major in college, I have an easier time coming up with a musical hook than writing a lyric which I’m happy with.
First, you have a decision to make when writing a song. You can either start out with music or lyrics. Depending upon which path you start with, it will set you up to accomplish the other half more easily. For instance, if you start out by writing the music (which includes the vocal melody you’ll be using) for each part, you’ll have an easier time writing the lyrics later.
When you already know the vocal melody, you’ll already know the spacing and number of syllables for each section of your song.
Conversely, when you start out with lyrics, you can create melodies to match the lyrics that you have, making coming up with the music.
While typically most songwriters begin with the music then fit the lyrics to their melodies, some artists take the different approach to this. Fall Out Boy, a popular pop rock/punk band from Chicago fits lyrics to music. Their principle songwriter isn’t even the one who writes the lyrics. Their bassist, Pete Wentz, is actually the one who writes the lyrics and brings them to Patrick Stump, their guitarist and singer who creates music to match to the lyrics in most cases.
Really it comes down to whatever you feel more comfortable with. You might try both methods to see what works better for you or you might try one when you’re hitting writer’s block on your typical method.
Here are a few tips on how to write song lyrics:
Carry a Notepad or Recorder With You – The more you put yourself in lyric writing mode, the more naturally ideas and lyrics will begin to come to you. Therefore it’s imperative that you always have a notepad to scribble down ideas as they come to you. You can even use your cell phone, not just to write down ideas, but because more than likely it has a recorder feature with it so that you can dictate your lyrical ideas so that you can revisit and expand on or tweak them later.
Write About What You Know – Just like novelists and screenwriters recommend when writing some kind of literary work, you should draw from your own experiences when writing lyrics. It’s a lot easier to write about something you know rather than trying to put yourself in a wholly unknown experience. It’s not only easier but writing about what you know can be downright therapeutic.
Start With a Title – When you’re completely stuck or drawing a blank, start out with a title for your song which you can work off of. The more descriptive or unique that title, the more it can give you to write about as some titles lend themselves to telling a story more than others.
If you’re serious about learning how to write song lyrics then I strongly urge you to check out my complete songwriting guide: “How to Write a Song – The No BS Songwriter’s Bible” which contains everything you need to know on how to write lyrics.
Specifically on the topic of writing lyrics, I cover in full:
Lyrical Subject Matters/Themes
Types of Rhymes
Calling On Personal Experience
Lyrics in Different Sections (Chorus Versus Verse)
Lots of Tips and Tricks for Coming Up With Lyrics
One such tip is to look to other artists and their own music (but not the lyrics) to help you and inspire you to come up with your own song lyrics. I cover this method and plenty of other tips and tricks in full in the eBook in addition to teaching you everything you need to write better songs from the ground up, so check out what others have already said about it by clicking here, or you can go ahead and purchase it to gain instant downloadable access with the button below.