Here are the top tips for writing better lyrics

A journal with it's pages falling open next to a pen and tea cup sits on a table with a light on it.

I’m sure you don’t need any help…but in case you’re stuck, we’ve compiled the best advice for expressing yourself in lyrical form. Whether your song is about that last rose-tinted sunset or your fiery rage, these tips are for you.

Small crowds of people stand and take pictures on a walkway over a rocky shore at twilight.
What does this sunset make you feel? How can you describe the pink of the sky and the obnoxious gulls in a way that produces a smash hit?
Photo by Justin Heap on Unsplash
  1. Practice!
    Unless you speak in poetry, you’re not exercising those word-smithing muscles enough. It takes intention and care to write a good song. Additionally, we aren’t taught to express ourselves this way. Try writing from your stream-of-consciousness after an emotional moment in your life, whether it be a fun day at the beach or a disappointing job interview. Get in the habit of journaling and reflecting on your life through lyrics. You could carry around a notebook, or jot down a few lines every night before bed.
  2. Outline what you are trying to express in your song
    Whether it be a theme, a moment, a message, get clear on why you’re writing your song.
  3. Keep it simple (but use a lot of detail)
    Don’t try and write a novel. A five-minute moment with your crush has enough detail in it for a three-minute song. Dive deep into a simple instance, one feeling, and then go deeper. Also, use imagery! If you can describe a moment or an image to express the feeling, then do it. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, imagery is a great lyric hack.
  4. Let your chorus do the work
    This is where your true message needs to shine through, as it repeats…and repeats…and repeats. It’s what the song will be known for. Ask yourself, “does my chorus convey the overall feel of my song?” If not, hone in a little more on the words to that chorus.
  5. Get comfortable with your thesaurus (and get a rhyming dictionary)
    When you get to the point of editing your song, keep an eye out for lazy words. Try and be creative about the sound and flow of the words, making sure that the word matches your meaning and that it flows with the phrase around it. Don’t forget to keep these handy, near where you tend to write your songs.
  6. Remove filler words
    You don’t need every “and” “but” or “then”. Write out your lyrics, and then sing them to yourself, and see where some can be removed. You don’t want a mouthful.
  7. Find a lyric-writing buddy
    A friend to bounce ideas off of, someone to trust with your rough-rough drafts…it’s priceless, the feedback you can get. Sometimes, the way someone else describes your experience is exactly what you meant, said even better! Not to mention the additional motivation co-working can give.

Try these out and see where they get you! But don’t be afraid to break the rules sometimes. Got any tips for writing better lyrics? Let us know! Tweet at us @tonicaudiolabs, email us at hiya@tonicaudio.com, or comment below!

With our app, Tonic, collaboration and feedback are super easy, and all in one platform. Ever wondered how to collaborate long-distance on a song, without long email chains and missing mixes? We’ve created a lightweight solution for you. Beta-testing is happening now, come help us out.

By Ava Z

Ava is a UX Designer and writer for Tonic Audio.

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