Whether you’re an aspiring lyric writer or you just want to try your hand at something new, writing a song is a wonderful creative outlet. It’s a way to express emotions, connect with other people, and challenge yourself. If you’re ready to make your own song but aren’t sure where to start, continue reading to find out how to write lyrics for beginners in six simple steps.
How to Write Song Lyrics: 6 Steps
Before we start, remember that there are really no rules for how to write songs. Some people start by playing around with different lyrics, while others tend to come up with a melody first. Many songwriters write both at the same time.
The below steps are just one of the many ways to approach songwriting. If it doesn’t feel natural, feel free to complete the steps in a different order. The key is to let your creativity lead the way.
Step 1: Find Accompaniment (Optional)
Though this step is completely optional, many songwriters like to use an accompaniment as they write—this can help inspire you and give you a sense of what the final song will sound like.
If you know how to compose music with an instrument or how to make your own music with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), feel free to take this route. If not, there are tons of free instrumentals or royalty-free samples online.
Alternatively, you can skip this step and come back to it once your lyrics and melody are ready.
Step 2: Decide What Story You’ll Be Telling
When you sit down to make a song, start with your story—this is what your lyrics will revolve around and what will help make the song unique, relatable, and memorable.
The best path to follow here is one that feels natural and comfortable to you. Write about something you know, something you’ve experienced, or something you care deeply about. This will not only make the final song more authentic, but it will feel much more special to you, as well.
Step 3: Play Around With Melody and Lyrics
This is where you can let loose and let your creative juices flow. Play around with singing different melodies and trying out words or phrases. Feel free to write simple lyrics as placeholders—you’ll have a chance to come back and edit them later.
As you’re coming up with new ideas, be sure to write everything down or record it into voice notes on your phone—you never know which of these ideas will ultimately help shape the final song.
Step 4: Think About the Song’s Structure
At this point, you should have a good idea of what your song is about and what you want the rest of your lyrics to convey—and maybe even a few lines. Before you move forward, think about what your song’s structure will look like. Consider things like:
- How many verses and choruses will you have?
- Will you have any pre-choruses or a bridge?
- How many lines will each section have?
- Will you follow a particular rhyming scheme?
Step 5: Refine Your Lyrics and Fill in the Blanks
Now that you have a structure in mind, you should be able to tell what’s missing in your lyrics and work to fill in the blanks. Don’t worry too much about sticking to your structure or rhyming scheme—those are simply there as a guideline, but there are really no rules you can’t break in songwriting.
Step 6: Edit Ruthlessly
Now here comes the best part—if you thought the lyrics you’ve already written are pretty good, it’s time to make them even better. When you get to the editing stage, don’t be afraid to cross out lines or even entire sections. Songwriting is a process, and it’s very rare that your first draft will also be your final one.
If you’re not sure what exactly to edit, try putting your song down for a few days or weeks and come back to it later. Looking at it with fresh eyes and ears will help you identify where you can make a few tweaks.
How to Write Good Lyrics
Learning how to take your lyrics from good to great will come with practice, but here are a few general pointers:
- Instead of telling the listener how you feel, show them using action words and imagery.
- If a lyric sounds cliché, try finding a new way to say the same thing using completely different words.
- Prioritize the story over the rhyming scheme—never write a line by first choosing a rhyming word to put at the end.
- Listen to lots of music and take note of your favorite lyrics and why they stand out to you.
Best of luck with your songwriting!
Ready to Write Your Own Song?
Toplining 101: Melody & Lyrics in Songwriting