The Right Way to Write Lyrics
I have been writing song lyrics - or at least attempting to - since I was in fifth or sixth grade. Eventually, I even learned how to compose my own music accompaniments to my lyrics in order to really bring them to life. Almost every time I post original work online, or tell someone that I write songs, I get asked how to write lyrics. This always surprises me because it's as if people expect that just because I know how to write music both lyrically and compositionally I'm all of a sudden some sort of expert - but this couldn't be further from the truth.
The truth is that there is no correct answer, or one simple formula that will help you compose the best lyrics ever written (and if there is I would love to know what it is). Lyrics are works of art that are crafted from individual experiences, perspectives, and minds - therefore, if there was one correct way to write lyrics then every song would sound the same. Of course there are lyrical outlines that many artists follow such as the intro, verse 1, bridge, chorus, verse 2, bridge, chorus, verse 3, bridge, and chorus pattern, but there are no lyric police that will come breaking down your door if you stray from the pattern. Writing lyrics is a spontaneous process. For example, one day everything you want to say may just flow out naturally, and within minutes you'll have your song. Other times, it may take days or even months before you've crafted your story exactly the way you want to tell it - I've experienced both. Keeping in mind that there is no right answer, read below to discover how I typically write all of my song lyrics.
If I'm being honest, what I'm about to say is going to sound very unreliable - but I swear that it works. Often times if I'm looking to write a song I'll start streaming music, and listen to a bunch of songs that I've never heard before. By listening to songs I've never heard it removes any prior bias or knowledge that I may have about the lyrics and/or melody. From there I just let my mind relax until it attaches to a particular string of notes, or certain word or phrase that resonates with me. After I have my sound or word picked out, I'll pause the music and let my thoughts ramble out loud until I have a sentence or two that seem to have potential. Sometimes, it also helps for me to just hum strands of random notes and attach the words to them later. Just remember to ALWAYS have a pencil, pad, and some form of a recording device nearby so that you don't lose any of your amazing ideas. As aforementioned, sometimes the song will write itself, but other times it may take me a few days of brainstorming, writing, and rewriting before I even have a quarter of the song done. The key to it all is patience.
You Can Do It!
Since there are no rules to follow when it comes to writing lyrics everyone can do it. I often have people tell me that the reason I can write songs so easily is because I'm constantly doing more professional-style writing, and while those skills may help me, they still don't write the songs for me. If you have something to say then you should say it - don't let your fear or insecurities of being a bad writer get in the way because writing lyrics has absolutely no boundaries or expectations. Also, don't think that you can't write lyrics just because you can't sing. I know that I'm not the world's most amazing singer, but I enjoy doing it. If singing and writing is something that you believe brings you joy then don't let fear stop you from feeling happy. All in all, the right way to write lyrics is simply the way that works best for you. Whether that means free-writing, or taking your time, as long as you feel happy with the end result that's all that matters.