What is the best way to start writing lyrics?

start writing lyricsOne of our reader’s asked the following question:

What is the best way to start writing lyrics?

I really appreciate the chance to answer readers questions. One think I believe is helpful is many questions are never asked. Since that never are asked there is no opportunity to answer them. That is why I like reader questions. Many times the question asked could be the one that will help you with your songwriting efforts.

There are several ways to start writing lyrics.  I will do my best to explore each one. Hopefully it will inspire you to write many songs.

It Starts With Ideas.

Every song has its beginnings with an idea.  An idea is a catalyst to start the creative process.  Songwriting is a creative activity. There are several ways you can start.

Ideas are literally everywhere. There is an infinite abundance of ideas. They are literally floating all around you.  Your task as a songwriter is to seek and identify an ideas. I will warn you, doing these things may provide you so many ideas it may actually be difficult to pick one to write a song.

Ideas Come From Life Situations.

Look around you. What do see, hear or smell?  Use your senses to explore your immediate environment.  All of these sensations you experience are all opportunities for song ideas. What activities are happening right now.  Do you hear birds chirping? People rushing busily to work? There is a story in every one of these surrounding events.

Ideas Come From Conversations

Whenever you are engaged in a conversation, keep your ears open. As you listen with intent to find a song idea, you will begin to pick up on certain phrases. Try to remember these phases.  Use the phase as a starting point for a song.  You can also use this technique as you are watching a video or movie. Some words will just jump out at you as you carefully listen.

Ideas Come From Reading

If you are an avid reader you can find song ideas. Great sources of ideas can come from movie titles or book titles. Again certain phases will just pop out at you.  All you need to do is have the mind set of awareness.

The Most Important Step for Starting Song Lyrics

Just as there is an abundance of ideas, keep in mind these ideas are quite volatile. They can be like vapor and quickly disappear into the ether just as quickly as they made themselves known to you.  That is why, as a songwriter, you must have some type of device to capture ideas.  This can be a simple as a piece of paper and pencil. To a voice recorder.  The key point is to capture these ideas before they fly away from you.

Turn Ideas Into Lyrics.

After a while you will have a catalog of ideas. These are the seeds for your lyrics. Take some time and look over the ideas. As you explore them pick only a few that you feel would make a great song.

Have a Brainstorm Session

Pick the best idea to start your brainstorm session.  Write the idea on a piece of paper or white board.  Start doing word association exercise.  From the original idea it should spark a word or phrase that could derive from that idea. For example, let’s take the word “cat”. What word are associated with “cat”?  Here are a few “meow, purr, fur, fluffy” Now take these secondary words and associate them.  For example “meow” could render noise, sound, pleasant, annoying.  What you will have in the end is an exhaustive word bank from which to start writing your songs.

Write a Song Title

The title is perhaps the most important part of the song.  Choosing a title is the anchor idea of the lyrics. The title usually becomes the hook in a song.  It provides the central idea from which to build the story. Although some songwriter think it clever to avoid using the title within the lyrics, it is best to incorporate it.  The best place for the title is somewhere in the chorus.  It is also a good idea to repeat it several times to help reinforce the idea of the song.

Recap: Start Writing Lyrics

So there you are, some simple and effective ways to start writing lyrics.  Of course this is not the end it merely the beginning. From here you will need to create a story line, chords, melody as so forth.

If you have a question regarding the craft of songwriting please submit them at

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Also, if you have other thoughts or ideas relating to this topic on how to start  writing lyrics please share your comments below.

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  • Songwriter Tip:

    One of the tools that you can use for help in crafting the lyrics for your songs is a device known as a rhyming dictionary. A rhyming dictionary works exactly the same as a regular dictionary, except that instead of giving you the definition/spelling of the word, it gives you a list of all the words that rhyme. Rhyming dictionaries can be found at most bookstores,