6 tips to beat writers block and become a better song lyricist...

 

No matter what role you play as a musician, it's inevitable that at some point in your career you will be called upon to write lyrics, or at least help out. Some people love this part of the creative process, whilst others would rather gauge their own eyes out than try and put their innermost thoughts and feelings down on paper. 

It's always worth approaching the lyrics writing process with an open mind, and it doesn't have to be the responsibility of the lead singer either. Some of the biggest bands in music history worked together to form the lyrics and themes behind hit songs. Trying the process is the only way you will be sure if its something you want to do. 

Although a lot of bands have wrote collaboratively, what's more common is acts who employ the talents of songwriters and lyricists to help them create memorable songs. There's no shame in it  - since the days of Motown record labels have been employing talented writers who can write words that will connect with an audience. Writing words that evoke emotions is a worthy skill, and the good news is that if you do have this skill, its still big business today as it was back in the Motown era. 

If you're an aspiring songwriter, then Kollab is the perfect platform for you to advertise your skills. There are a wide range of musicians, bands, independent artists and more who are looking for songwriters and lyricists to work with them on their music, and they are willing to pay for the service. This can be a competitive field however, so you need to make sure you bring your 'A' game if you want to stand out in the crowd. 

To help you out, we've compiled a list of 6 simple tips below that will benefit any song lyricist...

Whether you're a seasoned professional or just finding your feet in the lyric writing game, you can put these practices to use and let your creativity flow. The tips below are all easy to implement so you can start right away. There are no secret formulas to songwriting, but like any skill forming a set of good habits such as those below will put you on a path to success.

Remember, the worst thing you can do is wait, so start writing today...

Tip #1 - Location, location, location

Having a quiet space where you can switch off from the outside world is essential to a healthy writing process, and should be the first thing you think about. Where do you write currently? Do you have a quiet space that you can go to and nobody will bother you? Is the space you currently write in free of distraction?

For example, writing at your computer desk won't stop you checking Facebook at ten minute intervals, or people constantly interrupting you. Remember, when a musician says he's working and needs some quiet time without interruption, what people hear is 'feel free to bother me constantly with unimportant news, I'm only in here messing about with my instrument anyway." You get the picture...

The location can be anywhere as long as you know you won't be interrupted and you can focus solely on writing. This could be a quiet spot in a park, coffee shop, a quiet office, or at home at a specific time when you know nobody else will be around. Wherever you choose to write, make it a ritual and soon you will be programmed to know that space means its time to write. 

Tip #2 - Always be prepared

Inspiration can strike at any time - on the bus, sat on the toilet, waiting in line for a sandwich...don't assume that all of your best ideas will come to you at the allocated time slot you have for writing, because they never do. 

To break away from the constant electrical drone of modern life, I would suggest carrying around a small notebook with you at all times. Something like an A6 notepad will fit in your pocket without intrusion, and you can use it to jot down words and phrases you hear and like the sound of, ideas you might have, stories that might pop in your head from the past that would make a good song idea. Don't worry about keeping this neat and tidy - scribble, cross out and doodle anything you want in this book as it will be yours and yours alone to see. When writers block does strike, this book will be your lifeline and you'll be glad you made the effort to carry it with you.

If you simply must use a mobile device for keeping notes, then we recommend Evernote. This is a free app and the best I have personally found for keeping notes, and I have tried a lot. Be wary of using this as an excuse to check social media on your phone though, instead of writing down something useful! Even better - delete your social media apps from your phone - you won't die if you check your accounts once a day from your desktop or laptop.

 Your little book of lyrics - could be worth a fortune one day...

Your little book of lyrics - could be worth a fortune one day...

 

Tip #3 - Tell a story

If you ever find yourself looking at a blank page or screen wondering what to write and where to start, the first thing to remember is that a great song should tell a story. What that story is can be anything from a grand journey across continents to the time you saw a girl at the bus stop. It doesn't matter, but what does matter is telling a story. Decide what your story will be, then loosely pad out a beginning, middle and end. Once you do this you will find your verse and chorus start coming together. 

It's very easy to write generic lyrics, and they will feel generic if there is no story being told. Here is an example of some generic lyrics to a pop/rock song:

'Saw you walking down the street
I though you looked so fine
You're the kind of girl I'd like to meet
I wanna make you mine'

Yawn. How many times have you heard this or something similar before? 

Here is the first verse from 'In the air tonight' by Phil Collins, a similar genre:

'Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before my friend, but I don't know if you know who I am
Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies'

Fair to say that these lyrics are a lot more interesting - this song tells a story in a particularly detailed way and not every song has to be so vivid, but this is a good example of how you can start to tell your story and keep listeners engaged. Remember, it is the lyrics and melodies that keep people playing a song over and over again. 

 A beast with a drumstick AND a pen - props to Phil!

A beast with a drumstick AND a pen - props to Phil!

 

Tip #4 - Write a first draft

As with any type of writing, it is important to remember that a first draft of anything is usually garbage. Don't be too hard on yourself by demanding perfection first time. A good plan of attack is to write too much the first time, and let the words flow. You may know at the back of your mind that you will need to cut down a lot of what you're writing, but thats OK. It's much easier to come back the next day and look at what works and what doesn't, than look at two lines you laboured over and wonder where to go next. Focus on getting a draft finished, then worry about tweaking it later.  

Tip #5 - Practice makes perfect.

Like any skill, writing will only improve through practice, which is going to require some discipline on your part. If you want to be taken seriously as a song lyricist, you need to put in the work as you would any other instrument. So while your drummer friend is banging away on his kit for two hours every night and studying tutorial videos, so you should be dedicating time each day to your writing craft. 

Firstly, decide how many hours a week you are going to commit to writing, and then work out a plan to stick to it. Make the plan realistic, if you can fit in even one hour a day of solid writing to start that is a almost 30 hours of writing time per month. This is a good starting point that can easily be doubled over time. Use this time wisely - take online courses, join forums of like minded writers and read as many books as you can. For a great online resource, check our Ledger Note - a great musical blog we recently found that has some really useful articles.

ledger note.png

 

Making this commitment and combining it with the strategies above will put you on a fast track to success as a songwriter.

Tip #6 - Embrace your own style

Although there are formulas to popular lyric writing that you can stick to, that doesn't mean you have to. Although format may be expected of you in the form of verses, chorus and a bridge, you don't have to be formulaic with how you construct these.

For example, a trap that many aspiring lyricists fall into is stressing over making the end of every sentence (or every other sentence) rhyme. There are many vocalists and acts who shy away from this, or at least use words with similar phonetic sounds at the end of phrases instead of 'rhyming' words. This opens up a whole new world of possibility, and prevents you from feeling restricted with your word choice. If you find that you naturally write in a more poetic, prose form, then embrace it! There are lots of artists out there looking for something original that will help them stand out, so don't worry about writing something you think people 'want' to hear.   

Looking for a song lyricist or composer to help with your track on Kollab? Click here!