I have tried all my life to write lyrics. It usually ends up like stupid crap and rarely fits the song at all.
Why does it have to be so hard? Over the last 20 years i have probably been able to produce 1 short song with acceptable lyrics. Rest has been crap. I’m talking about hundreds of songs i attempted to write lyrics for. I even tried to make lyrics about how bad the lyrics are, but i failed even that. :lol:
The best solution is probably to give up, but i’m just too stubborn for those kind of solutions. My music needs vocals, i need to write lyrics.

The way i go about usually is to make some music, sing gibberish the way i want the vocals to sound, then i start to write lyrics to fit, sets the whole project on hold and finds some crappy texts in the bottom of a drawer 5 years later. :D

Any tips? How do you write lyrics? I guess most here don’t write lyrics at all, so it’s probably not the best place to ask, but it can’t hurt.
Am i all alone with this issue?

You are certainly not alone with this issue. I find lyrics difficult to write also and I’ve only made maybe 1 or 2 songs where I actually liked the lyrics.

The issue here is that everybody’s brain works differently, and some people just aren’t wired for lyrics writing. Do I guess that you also suck at scrabble like I do? My fiance can kick my ass at it any day :) And she is great at writing lyrics. She can improvise something in 1 take and it will be 100x better than me sitting down staring at a pad for 4 hours and scratching out bad ideas.

It’s just something certain people are talented at and others aren’t.

So, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The only way to get better at it is practicing, but if you are too frustrated with it and you would rather work on other aspects of your music, my best suggestion would be to find someone to collaborate with. Either a singer, or just a lyric writer or poet who you send your music to and they listen to your tracks and come up with lyrics for.


Talent is more like a head-start on learning than anything else. I’ve been writing lyrics longer than I’ve been writing music, and as organic says: the only way to get better is to practice. While I’m usually satisfied with my work, I still run into the bane of writer’s block, and I still push out some stinky loaves now and then. Not all ideas are created equal.

So it’s back to practice and perseverance. However, it wouldn’t make much sense to keep writing lyrics as you’ve always been doing if you’re not happy with what you’ve always come up with. Get analytical on your work. Why don’t you like your lyrics? What makes ‘good’ lyrics? Figure out why you like the lyrics you like and then try to work the same concepts, themes, styles, or whatever into your own.

Work out what you’re doing wrong, or at least what you don’t like, and change your approach. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Also, rhyme is over-rated. Just a thought. I fell in love with Imagist poetry in 10th grade, so many of my lyrics are in the same vein (with considerations for meter and cadence, though).

I have never played scrabble actually, but i would imagine i would play it fairly well though to be honest.
It’s a bit strange, i’m quite good at making rhymes and writing silly things, but as soon as i want to write something meaningful i find it difficult.
I don’t want to make political, love, drugs, sexual or fun themed lyrics. What is left then? Maybe that’s my main problem, that i don’t want to mean or say anything at all?
I don’t even read all that many lyrics or think about what they mean. I have read some though and the quality isn’t always very good, but it usually doesn’t bother me much when applied to other peoples music. that’s a bit weird isn’t it?
What makes good lyrics? I’m not even shure. Some just are good.
Maybe they are easier to write before i make the music, but then i lose my usual workflow in music creation and then the music will be the obstacle.

Many artists seem to just randomly spew out repeating words and incomplete sentences that makes no sense what so ever. I kinda like this approch a bit, but i also feel a bit stupid about it, as it really is pretty stupid. Sometimes it sounds very cool though and that’s the most important thing i think. :D

Well, there is always more: darkness, paranoia, sadness, loneliness, longing/dreaming, any type of feelings really.
Tip: find a good metaphor for something, and try to write your lyrics in a sort of vague/ambigious way which makes the listener wonder what you actually are singing about - classic approach, i think.
Example; One person might think you’re singing about a heroine-trip, while another person might think you’re going on about an intense mountain climbing experince, while what you REALLY mean could be your own little secret.
Often makes things more interesting :)

Those are probably very good advices, only that i kind of feel i have been through those steps already with little sucess. Either the metaphore sounds good in my head, but bad when sung or good when sung and bad in my head.

I remember a reading a bit of a book about writing song lyrics, and I remember that while some people may have a ‘gift’ for writing lyrics, it is definitely a skill that you can practice and get better at with time.

Personally, I would surround myself with lyrics that I enjoyed and I would study what makes them work within the context of the tune. Reading a lot of poetry helps as well because it will expand your meterical vocabulary as well as give you ideas for topics that you want to explore.

Personally one of my favorite lyricists is Sonny Moore because of his talent for writing nonsensical lyrics that just sound really good when sung:

Swallow a little
Of that sea
And taste a little bit of that salt in me.
Throw up a little of it on your knees
And doesn’t it bring you back to the beginning?
You poured
All your elements away,
Now sink back to the bottom of it all.

The most important thing is to not judge your lyrics while you are writing them.

I have always wanted to write a song in no particular language at all, like this, which is supposed to be an artificial language, and has a meaning, sort of…!/s/After+In+The+Dark+Torch+Song/1Q6wIM?src=5

I can scat, but I can’t write complete nonsense.

Probably something i shuld keep in mind.

you should write the lyrics first, without any idea of what the music will be, and build your song around that.(just an idea)

After i started this thread i have tried to write lyrics for an industrial metal track i’m working on. I think i have tried about 10 attempts of writing something, but still i can’t make it work right. I have the “sound” of the lyrics in my head, but i can’t get the damn words to fit! :angry:
This pisses me off enough already, but on top of that i’m listening to this quite monotonous track, with probably the angriest music i have ever made, on repeat. :smashed:
I have boiled the hours of this down to 3 short lines and they’re not very good either. :lol:

seems like that works for many people, but i don’t think i have that ability, melody allways pops up first in my head making it very hard to write a whole song because i already have the melody on the first line and i constantly try to fit everything into this melody. I have also found it harder to make riffs to lyrics i have already written in the past, because i hear it in my head and i can’t replicate it. I might have gotten a bit better on that now though so i might give it a go. I only need to complete the one i’m working on first. :P

this can actually be helpful:
hit regenerate button for more ideas B)

Wow, nice! I was looking for something like this, but all i found was stupid forms you fill out things like your favourite animal or what you like to eat.
This looks a lot more promising, thanks Denim!

Not foolproof, but it is good to have a garbage dump style notebook with lyric ideas. Just good sentences and verses. God forbid someone finds it or they think you are a secret poet, but have it somewhere. It’s kind of like your sample folder, you can trawl through there looking for things that fit and then work them in.

I think jim morisson and robert plant and so on and a million rappers and a lot of people in general work like that. Might not provide the idealistic holy inspired experience, but provides some serviceable rock and roll.

What I mean to say is, I’ve noticed a lot of decent lyricists treat lyrics in a way that is not much different from how a lot of trackers treat samples.

Also, don’t worry so much if some of the lines are kind of stupid or cheesy. As long as you have some good stuff and present it well and use the cheese to deliver the meat in a satisfying way. (That sounds like weird sex or cheap pizza?.. i guess that’s all still well on the rock n roll tip… :D)

Now i scrapped the three lines and started over, suddenly i had 8 lines in a couple of minutes i’m actually quite happy with. A bit cheesy, but it fits the genre. Strange how creativity works, sometimes i can sit for hours trying to figure something out, while other times i just do it straight away without thinking about it. :rolleyes:

keep the lyrical juices flowing by exercising your mental clitoris.

For me it’s a great part excercise, and training, and knowledge of a few little tricks. And inspiration of course, and a sea of text, poetry, lyrics, experiences, whatever you have absorbed thoughout your life. Passive TV consumption is poison for creativity, read more books.

It seems somewhat hard to make real good sounding lyrics, that are catchy and just “sound” right. Same I see with poetry, where the rhythmical sense seems sometimes so lost and random for me that I hardly enjoy most contemporate stuff.

Few tricks of mine are, first making up somekind of catchy rhythm/melody in the head. You have to practice to imagine music/words like the earcatcher stuff you sometimes can’t get out of your head when you heard it in the radio for that. Yes it’s possible to do that at will, just like thinking/visualising of a picture or image. It doesn’t have to be the final stuff of the song you make the lyrics for, but similliar. If you fail at that, just listen to some song that’s similliar and hit repeat on the player, if it’s an instrumental it’s better because your lyrics won’t be so similliar to the original ones.

Then I sit down with a pen and paper and flow words along with that rhythm/melody in my head, writing down what seems ok, and rewriting most of the stuff after each line and in between until rhythm and rhymes and such sound ok. I’ve also though about quickly recording that stuff with humming and a simple beat so the idea won’t get lost between sessions, happens too often for me. I take care that the melody/rhythm is in sync and doesn’t deviate too often from a basic pattern I thought through/have built up, that makes the thing way catchier.

Also I take care with words that have multiple syllables, with those one is always accented, and this one needs to fit into the rhythm and melody of the song, or it’ll sound clumsy! My main language is german with many multi-syllable words, and there it’s probably even more important that with english. Also think about the sentence of that line as you’d speak it, and watch for which words you’d accentuate when you’d do so, and what the speaking melody of that would be. The more it matches the rhythm of the song and the melody, the catchier and “more right” it’ll sound when sung. Also I make dot/dash/line markings of the rhythm I imagine for that stuff when sung or rapped below/above each line of text, so I can analyze it better, recover the rhythm of it after forgetting my initial head-melody stuff, and check up how consistent it is.

Too much consistence can however make a song sound too much easy listening like schlager volksmusik dreck. Will probably sell well but it’ll also be boring for people who like their minds being teased.

Good practicing, even if you hate hip-hop, ist writing silly raps, as you won’t need to care about melody, but just about accented syllables and basic rhythm consistency.

Also…inspiration…I seldom think of a concept beforehand, I just have halve a bottle of wine an a rhythm/melody concept in my head I jam about and think of a simple (nonsensical) line that fits in, then nail it down to paper and just go on by rhymes and rhythm, shaping up a sense I hadn’t in mind at the beginning, maybe even replacing the original first line(s) if they don’t fit anymore. Think of it not like a flowing that has to be right immediately, but like a clay sculpture you add, remove, and change parts in a long process until you’re satisfied and proportions are right. With a lot of practice you’ll get good “shapes” much faster, of course, and might even be able to improvise decent stuff at some point.

Hope that helps making better lyrics :walkman:/>

In my experience, there are three major approaches to writing lyrics:

The first is to start with poetry, which lays down your rhythmic structures and by the sound of the words also should suggest your chord progression and melodic structure (remember that people do not generally speak in monotones).

The second is to start with music, and find words which can fit with the music. Because of the relationship of sound and speech, this is possible but the speech is often disjointed and strictly emotive - given that music as an artistic medium is based around emotion and association rather than logical argumentation this is not necessarily bad.

The third is to start with verbal phrases, build a melody for those, then build the lyric and the rest of the music together, letting them shape each other.

Which approach works best depends strongly on your attitude to what you’re creating. I’m pretty certain that Leonard Cohen used the first method almost invariably because his lyrics effectively are poetry. I strongly doubt that Lady Gaga does. A lot of people in the broad EDM spectrum seem to use method 2, and pay very little attention to the use of language. Art composers who live for opera and arias generally seem to use method 3.

I think that you may have the most success if you can identify which workflow works best for you.

I’m generally quite happy with the lyrics I write, but the music or vocal melody pretty much always comes first. Sometimes its easier to work within some boundaries so the notes sequence / rhythm of the vocal melody can give you an idea of the syllables and types of words to use whether they be longer flowing words with lots of vowels, more percussive, consonant-heavy word or ideally a mixture of the two.

Speech is a kind of music on its own so I must admit I’m a big fan of rhymes as they have the same effect as resolving on a harmonious note like a root or fifth but phonetically rather than melodically if that makes sense.

I try to tell stories with my lyrics and often start from a point of inspiration such as a book or movie and then try to describe the images and scenes in my mind as they unfold.

This often evolves into something completely different and much more original, for example I started writing a song based on the old-PC game ‘Thief’ imagining having to stick to the shadows and serving a villainous purpose. This very quickly switched to being a soldier under fire in the middle-east and became a kind of war-protest song called Peacekeeper.

Sorry, I’ve rattled on a bit there but to summarise the things I find helpful:

  1. Let the rhythm or melody shape the words rather than the other way round.

  2. Use a familiar story, character, setting or theme as a launchpad and then let your mind wonder from there, describing what you see as you go.