5 Simple Steps to Help You Easily Create Lyrics


 minute read

Songwriters are the poets of today.

But writing effective and creative lyrics is tough.

Where do you start? How do you get an idea onto paper?

The good news is writing powerful song lyrics doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it is very much possible for you to be able to easily create lyrics. It just takes having an affective process that works for you, and some practice.

Everyone is going to have their own unique system that works for them, and there is no one way to write great lyrics.

That being said, if you are looking for some help, here are 5 simple steps to help you easily create lyrics.

1. Theme

What is your song going to be about?

What are you trying to teach, examine, reflect on, celebrate, or draw attention to in your song?

This can be a noun (person, place, or thing), this can an emotion (love, fear, hope), a person, an experience, a dream, really anything. You get to pick!

But just make sure you do, in fact pick, and don’t waste a lot of time deliberating over it. Pick a theme you like, and move on.

2. Mind Dump

Once you have a theme, it’s time for a mind dump.

Get a piece of paper, or pull up a note or doc on your computer or other device, and start writing down anything and everything that comes to mind when you think of your particular theme.

This can be individual words, or whole phrases, sentences, or even a paragraph or more. The key here is not to restrict yourself. Let the creativity flow where it wills.

Your theme is courage in the face of overwhelming odds? What does that make you think of? What images come to mind? Describe. Focus less on words, and more on images, thoughts, emotions. 

Don’t hold anything back. Just dump everything in your mind onto the page.

Also, be sure to give yourself a deadline. This should only take 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t agonize or think too hard during this step. This is about dumping what is already in your head, not coming up with new ideas.

If at the end of your deadline you don’t have very much written down, and you are struggling to think of inspiration, then try of thinking of stories—movies or books— that communicate the theme you are thinking of well.

Or, look for images (Pinterest is a great source) that seem to reflect your theme.

In fact, it can be very helpful to create a board on Pinterest full of images that reflect your idea.

3. The Words

This is the stage where you convert your ideas into a consumable format.

Look at your mind dump, and try and condense or summarize your ideas and images into actual words.

Because that’s what words are—placeholders for ideas.

Words are placeholders for ideas.

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This step may take a little more effort, but over time and through continue practice of this method, it will get easier and faster.

Now, you are NOT constructing sentences here. You are simply picking individual words.

Going back to our example theme of courage in the face of overwhelming odds, let’s say one of the images that came to your mind during your mind dump was of a knight fighting a dragon.

What words best describe that scene? Also, http://www.thesaurus.com/ is your friend.

So while the previous step was about breaking down your theme into smaller chunks and ideas, think of this step as now breaking down those smaller chunks into words.

Idea > Images > Words

It’s also important to keep in mind your “brand” when when choosing your words.

What lyrical patterns or structures do you want your band, or album, or song to be known for? While you certainly don’t have to have a consistent pattern in your lyrics, it can help your music to stand out.

For example, Owl City is known for his very fantastical and idealistic lyrics. Where on the spectrum do you want your lyrics to fall?

Do you want your lyrics to be more other-worldly, or hit closer to home?

Do you want to be more vague, lucid?

Or, do you want your lyrics to hold double, hidden meanings?

4. Tell A Story

Now that you have your assemblage of words, it is finally time to arrange them into a song.

However, you don’t want these to be arranged randomly, but you want your lyrics to tell a story.

Why? Because people love stories. Stories convey meaning, and compelling stories elicit strong emotional reactions.

If a listener likes your song, that’s one thing. But if they can emotionally connect with your music, you’ve got yourself a fan.

If a listener likes your song, that’s one thing. But if they can emotionally connect with your music, you’ve got yourself a fan.

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Of course, you can tell a story without using any lyrics at all. That’s the beauty of music! Music communicates emotions all by itself.

And with that in mind, you should seek to craft a story with your words that matches the tone of the music.

Although, as with just about anything in music, there can be exceptions. If you have, say, happy music but more melancholy lyrics, that can have a strong ironic effect, and convey a powerful story all it’s own, perhaps about someone who tries to put on a happy facade, while feeling something completely opposite.

Key isn’t so much to follow any strict set of rules, but to understand the effect you are creating with your combined ingredients of sound and words.

But how do you go about telling a story with your lyrics?

Simon Hawkins, in his book “Song Maps” observes that there are basically 7 different common song formats you can follow:

  1. Tension/Response
  2. Problem/Declaration
  3. Timezones
  4. Places
  5. Roles
  6. Twist
  7. Literal/Figurate

Tension/Response is by far the most common, and a good place to start. And your song might look something like this:

  • Verse 1 – How the tension is sensed
  • Chorus 1 – The response
  • Verse 2 – How the response is sensed
  • Chorus 2 – The response
  • Bridge – How I feel about the response
  • Chorus 3 – The response

Basically, you want your verses to progress your story and your choruses to repeat the central idea.

Basically, you want your verses to progress your story and your choruses to repeat the central idea.

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In Verse 1 you start at point A, and in your final verse you arrive at point B. The bridge will kind of be like an aside, or a reflection on the story.

Again, no hard and fast rules, but if you want something effective, this is a good place to start.

5. Just Write

Finally, none of this is any good if you don’t sit down and write!

Don’t aim for perfection, because you’ll never hit it. Shoot for progress instead.

Write one song to the best of your ability, and then write another, and another, and another!

Keep improving, and keep making progress. Don’t get hung up on trying to make one song absolutely perfect. Do your best, learn from it, and move on.

As a quote I’ve heard attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte says, “Quantity has a quality all it’s own.”

I think this is very true when it comes to music artists and producers.

Create enough quantity, and you’ll come across quality.

Create enough quantity, and you’ll come across quality.

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What is your biggest struggle when it comes to writing song lyrics? 

Let me know in the comments below and I'll try and help you out!

Reagan Ramm

Hi! I'm Reagan, and I've been writing, recording, and mixing music since 2011, and got a degree in audio engineering in 2019 from Unity Gain Recording Institute. I also work full-time in Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and am striving to help fellow musicians and producers improve their art and make a living doing the work they love.

- Reagan Ramm

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