How I Write Lyrics

11/21/2019 3:50 PM

I'm not new to the songwriting game. I have been writing songs since I was a child, and I would say my songwriting experience is advanced. I want to share with you my strategy for songwriting, along with some tips and tricks which might help you write a better song.

Sometimes I write music before I write the lyrics to a song. Other times, I write the lyrics first and then continue writing the music for my song. For this example, I'll use a song I wrote and am releasing December 22, called "Make Amends". This song is on my YouTube, and can be found here ("Make Amends" by Intersex).

Writing this song wasn't particularly challenging, and the song shows some popularity on YouTube even though I have yet to invest in promoting it. I wrote the instrumental hook for this track, and then continued to writing lyrics. I wrote a simple instrumental hook for the cello, added synthesizer sounds and a drum beat, and opened up a new document for writing lyrics.

Loosley, this song is about a personal experience where I was shot and survived the attack. I started by rhyming every other line for the verse, using RhymeZone to find rhymes that were not obvious to me at first. I sang these lyrics to a melody following the notes I was playing on the cello. The lyrics are below:

This time let’s take a moment

Let’s let it out and catch some breath

I’m feeling kind of broken

Thinking bout the time you left

I knew "moment" and "broken" was an excellent slant rhyme, and worked from there to find the next rhymes. I wrote about taking a moment to catch my breath and feeling broken by being left alone when I was injured. I used RhymeZone to rhyme "breath" and "left", making an excellent verse before I continued to the chorus. For the chorus, I began writing in rhyming couplets to make it catchier. I also varied the pitches I was using while still singing to the same instrumental hook I had written for the cello. Here are the lyrics:

And now I’ll bleed till I’m dead

My life it hangs by a thread

It’s over, I’m shot down

And I know you’re not around

I have been reading rhyming dictionaries for most of my life (which I highly recommend you do as well), so I knew dead and thread were obvious rhymes, and I wanted to use the expression "hangs by a thread" because I thought it was an engaging way to build anticipation in the song talking about how I nearly lost my life. "Down" and "around" were obvious slant rhymes, and I kept the rhythm of the phrasing strong, without making each phrase too long or short to sing.

Breathing is especially important in songwriting, and setting aside time to breathe is essential to getting the song to flow properly and work out. For the first verse, I took a breath after every line, which was essential to the song as I was talking about breathing. For the second verse, I took a breath after the first and second line, and put the third and fourth lines closer together to create a buildup as I sang the last two lines faster. I did the same for the third verse:

So tell me are the words that I said

Not enough now I’ve bled

Slip away before my eyes

Will I ever see through your disguise

I was injured, so I wanted to talk about bleeding. "Said" and "bled" came to mind, so I continued to write and rhyme, finishing the verse with the rhymes "eyes" and "disguise" once again forming rhyming couplets. I also sang the last two lines faster and together to create variation and buildup. Because some of these lines were longer and had different rhythm, I had to vary the notes and rhythm I sang once again but I kept them along the same line as before. Continuing, I wrote:

I wish that you knew that I tried

That you were by my side

There is no place to hide

If I leave it all behind

Expressing that I had made an attempt to stay safe and stay with someone was cruicial to me in this song. As such, I wrote the rhymes "tried" and "side", finishing of with the slant rhymes "hide" and "behind" expressing how there was no way out of the situation I was in. I also added more variation to the notes I sang using different notes than the last verse, before continuing to a brand new verse:

I’m done

It’s over and the battle’s won

There’s no time to make amends

Even if we could be friends

Bringing in a few rhymes and thinking back about how I felt as I thought I might not survived, I made a simple rhyme with "done" and "won" and continued to the title of the song, rhyming "amends" and "friends". Continuing to the climax of the song, I began to sing faster and use less variation in the pitches to stress what I was singing. I also paused before the last line of this verse to put stress on the last line. Pausing like this is an important artistic thing to do, because it really makes the lines I want to stress more prominent and also gives me a chance to breathe so I can sing them louder.

Remember when we woke up in tears the music broke us

And we struggled to make it through the years we were a joke and now it’s all at our feet

And I’m feeling this beat

I chose not to rhyme the last words, and instead to rhyme "broke" and "joke". This is a line I have had in my head for a while and I'm not sure exactly how I came to it. Sometimes songwriting is like that, I am unsure of exactly how I got to the lyrics I sing because they have simply been in my head too long and I forget what I was doing when I wrote them. Basically, I wrote these lines about remembering the times when I struggled with the music I was writing and felt broken by the words I left on the page. I also write this about the hate I have received, people thought of me as a joke because of my intersex condition. However, as my life came together, I began to feel more secure. I wrote the rhyme "feet" and "beat" about this, expressing how I began to feel that everything was in front of me and I was really enjoying the music.

Repeating the chorus (the second eight lines) again after this verse, I continued on to write a bridge:

I’ve got no money got no fame

Got no time to feel the shame

Let the music fill your ears

I could write you anything

I sang this bridge using different pitches and rhythm, which is common for singing briges. The bridge should be unique, it should bring the song together, and it doesn't necessarily have to rhyme. Thinking of the days before I found success in my music, I wrote the rhyme "fame" and "shame", and then avoided rhyming the last two lines. This can be an effective strategy for a bridge, as not every part of a song needs to rhyme. The chorus should rhyme, but it's not essential that every verse and the bridge rhyme though most verses should rhyme when writing pop songs.

To finish the song, I repeated the chorus once again to finish out the song. This step is cruical I feel to songwriting, as having a unique and memorable chorus makes a song much catchier and more memorable.

Bringing it all together, I sang the song and scheduled it's release. I encourage you to look at the YouTube exclusive pre-release of the song (link is at the top of the page) if you are interested in how this song was written, which I would guess you are because you have made it here. Please let me know on social media if there is anything I can improve in this guide or anything I didn't touch on quite enough. I really hope you enjoyed a more in depth look at how I write lyrics, and thank you for reading!

Writing this song wasn't particularily challenging, and the song shows some popularity on YouTube even though I have yet to invest in promoting it. I wrote the instrumental hook for this track, and then continued to writing lyrics. I wrote a simple instrumental hook for the cello, added synthesizer sounds and a drum beat, and opened up a new document for writing lyrics.

Loosley, this song is about a personal experience where I was shot and survived the attack. I started by rhyming every other line for the verse, using RhymeZone to find rhymes that were not obvious to me at first. I sang these lyrics to a melody following the notes I was playing on the cello. The lyrics are below:

This time let’s take a moment

Let’s let it out and catch some breath

I’m feeling kind of broken

Thinking bout the time you left

I knew "moment" and "broken" was an excellent slant rhyme, and worked from there to find the next rhymes. I wrote about taking a moment to catch my breath and feeling broken by being left alone when I was injured. I used RhymeZone to rhyme "breath" and "left", making an excellent verse before I continued to the chorus. For the chorus, I began writing in rhyming couplets to make it catchier. I also varied the pitches I was using while still singing to the same instrumental hook I had written for the cello. Here are the lyrics:

And now I’ll bleed till I’m dead

My life it hangs by a thread

It’s over, I’m shot down

And I know you’re not around

I have been reading rhyming dictionaries for most of my life (which I highly reccomend you do as well), so I knew dead and thread were obvious rhymes, and I wanted to use the expression "hangs by a thread" because I thought it was an engaging way to build anticipation in the song talking about how I nearly lost my life. "Down" and "around" were obvious slant rhymes, and I kept the rhythm of the phrasing strong, without making each phrase too long or short to sing.

Breathing is especially important in songwriting, and setting aside time to breathe is essential to getting the song to flow properly and work out. For the first verse, I took a breath after every line, which was essential to the song as I was talking about breathing. For the second verse, I took a breath after the first and second line, and put the third and fourth lines closer together to create a buildup as I sang the last two lines faster. I did the same for the third verse:

So tell me are the words that I said

Not enough now I’ve bled

Slip away before my eyes

Will I ever see through your disguise

I was injured, so I wanted to talk about bleeding. "Said" and "bled" came to mind, so I continued to write and rhyme, finishing the verse with the rhymes "eyes" and "disguise" once again forming rhyming couplets. I also sang the last two lines faster and together to create variation and buildup. Because some of these lines were longer and had different rhythm, I had to vary the notes and rhythm I sang once again but I kept them along the same line as before. Continuing, I wrote:

I wish that you knew that I tried

That you were by my side

There is no place to hide

If I leave it all behind

Expressing that I had made an attempt to stay safe and stay with someone was cruicial to me in this song. As such, I wrote the rhymes "tried" and "side", finishing of with the slant rhymes "hide" and "behind" expressing how there was no way out of the situation I was in. I also added more variation to the notes I sang using different notes than the last verse, before continuing to a brand new verse:

I’m done

It’s over and the battle’s won

There’s no time to make amends

Even if we could be friends

Bringing in a few rhymes and thinking back about how I felt as I thought I might not survived, I made a simple rhyme with "done" and "won" and continued to the title of the song, rhyming "amends" and "friends". Continuing to the climax of the song, I began to sing faster and use less variation in the pitches to stress what I was singing. I also paused before the last line of this verse to put stress on the last line. Pausing like this is an important artistic thing to do, because it really makes the lines I want to stress more prominent and also gives me a chance to breathe so I can sing them louder.

Remember when we woke up in tears the music broke us

And we struggled to make it through the years we were a joke and now it’s all at our feet

And I’m feeling this beat

I chose not to rhyme the last words, and instead to rhyme "broke" and "joke". This is a line I have had in my head for a while and I'm not sure exactly how I came to it. Sometimes songwriting is like that, I am unsure of exactly how I got to the lyrics I sing because they have simply been in my head too long and I forget what I was doing when I wrote them. Basically, I wrote these lines about remembering the times when I struggled with the music I was writing and felt broken by the words I left on the page. I also write this about the hate I have recieved, people thought of me as a joke because of my intersex condition. However, as my life came together, I began to feel more secure. I wrote the rhyme "feet" and "beat" about this, expressing how I began to feel that everything was in front of me and I was really enjoying the music.

Repeating the chorus (the second eight lines) again after this verse, I continued on to write a bridge:

I’ve got no money got no fame

Got no time to feel the shame

Let the music fill your ears

I could write you anything

I sang this bridge using different pitches and rhythm, which is common for singing briges. The bridge should be unique, it should bring the song together, and it doesn't neccesarily have to rhyme. Thinking of the days before I found success in my music, I wrote the rhyme "fame" and "shame", and then avoided rhyming the last two lines. This can be an effective strategy for a bridge, as not every part of a song needs to rhyme. The chorus should rhyme, but it's not essential that every verse and the bridge rhyme though most verses should rhyme when writing pop songs.

To finish the song, I repeated the chorus once again to finish out the song. This step is cruical I feel to songwriting, as having a unique and memorable chorus makes a song much catchier and more memorable.

Bringing it all together, I sang the song and scheduled it's release. I encourage you to look at the YouTube exclusive pre-release of the song (link is at the top of the page) if you are interested in how this song was written, which I would guess you are because you have made it here. Please let me know on social media if there is anything I can improve in this guide or anything I didn't touch on quite enough. I really hope you enjoyed a more in depth look at how I write lyrics, and thank you for reading!

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