5 Steps To Writing Better Lyrics

Writing good lyrics is a difficult craft to master, and with every generation of brilliant lyricists, it seems to become harder to follow in the footsteps of the greats. But every great lyricist started somewhere – and becoming a good lyricist, like any other craft, is the result of study and lots of practice. Here are five of the best practices to get you writing better lyrics today.

Read and Write Poetry

Poetry is the midway point between prose and lyricism, and reading poetry may help you become a better – and perhaps more sensitive – lyricist. Study various forms of poetry and become familiar with different types of poems, rhyming schemes, and common themes. Read Keats, read Plath and Dickinson, read Poe and Shakespeare.

While you may not find yourself becoming a poetry enthusiast, you may discover that certain kinds of poetry stir you to an emotional reaction. Pay close attention to what it is that you enjoy, and practice writing poems of the same type – and then, apply these same influences to lyrics. You might also consider setting certain poems to music, which can also be a good exercise in really digesting how words and music join together.

Get more fans and more gigs with less effort – join ReverbNation for free today

Be Thematically Consistent

Most musicians have a set of themes from which they operate, from the joy of love and friendship to the darkness of grief or mental illness. Think carefully about what sort of music speaks the most to you – do you love bright and airy pop lyrics, or the heaviness of metal and goth lyrics? Whatever resonates the most with you musically is likely the sort of lyrics you’ll wind up writing.

Make a list of themes that you want to be present in your lyrics, and in tandem with your poetry exercises, introduce those themes into your poetic work. Experiment with different themes in different styles of poetry and see what you like best. Writing lyrics is somewhat academic in nature, but it is a deeply emotional process like most creative pursuits. Experimenting will help you find what’s most natural to you – and will make your lyrics much more powerful.

Don’t Repeat Yourself

While your lyrical work may be joined by one or several central themes, avoid repeating yourself too much in your lyrics – both within individual songs and across the body of your work. Repetition and real creativity are opposites. Putting serious thought into what you want to say and how you want to say it will result in lyrics that really reach your listener.

Both the words and the music of a song should create a mental or emotional response in the listener. Over time and with practice, your lyrical work will evolve, resulting in deeper and more complex responses in your audience. But repeating yourself will only bore them, so avoid it if you can!

Don’t Sound Like Everyone Else

As the saying goes, “it’s all been done before,” and there’s truth to that statement. But a truly creative lyricist can put a very different spin on what’s come before them, and will find new ways of expressing similar or even identical ideas as musicians and poets they love. If something you write sounds too much like something you’ve heard or read, you don’t necessarily need to scrap it; it may just need additional development. This might seem a little draconian at first, but don’t give up on it – with time this process will become a lot easier, and you’ll write well-developed lyrics without needing to put a lot of intensive thought into it every time.

Use a Thesaurus

If you really love using rhyme schemes in your lyrics, a thesaurus will be your best friend. Use it to find synonyms to a word or feeling you’re working to evoke in your lyrics. Not only will using a thesaurus help you write better lyrics, it will increase your vocabulary and reading comprehension as well.

Whole libraries of books are written on the art of the lyric, and lyricism has become an academic field of study in its own right. But you don’t need to attend classes to become a solid lyricist – independent study and practice are more than adequate to learn and master this wonderful craft.

James5 Steps To Writing Better Lyrics


Join the conversation
  • Edwin Odeh Onche - March 3, 2017 reply

    Well done, I learnt alot

    Dennis - August 27, 2018 reply

    You ‘learned’ a lot Edwin, unless you were trying to rhyme ‘learnt’ with ‘burnt’ which any good lyricist would certainly attempt.

    Crystal D - February 15, 2019 reply

    Lmao. That was awesme

    Navj - April 10, 2019 reply

    Perfect reply ✌️😂👌

  • Alzeeta Daily - March 9, 2017 reply

    Thank you for the knowledge Dave!

  • Abhilasha - March 16, 2017 reply

    Such a nice blog. Thank you so much!

  • Will - February 8, 2018 reply

    I feel as though repetition can create a certain feel or atmosphere in a song. In terms of metal and whatnot, a verse can be sung clean, quiet, slow, or fast, and later on in the song when you meet at the pinnacle of its climax it could be belted out or screamed to add a feeling of change or transformation. In other cases, the instrumentals could have changed so that although the Lyrics are the same, the overall sound can be very different. Also, you could change certain words and lines in a verse to create an alternate version of it, maybe extenuating the concept or story of the song. In many cases, it isn’t always about the words that are sung, but rather how it sounds with the instruments as a whole. 🙂 Just thought I’d spill my mind in the comments.

    Hillel - August 23, 2018 reply

    Great point. If you look at songs written by the best songwriters (Stevie Nicks, John Lennon, Lou Reed, Morrissey, Roger Waters, etc..), you will see how masterfully they employ repetition to hook the listener into the story of the lyrics. I think this blog entry is excellent but “Don’t Repeat Yourself” could have also been “Learn When To Repeat Yourself”. 🙂

  • Dave - August 22, 2018 reply

    There are hundreds of articles and books written on “how to write better lyrics” but almost nothing written on how to phrase lyrics.
    You hear about lyric and melody all of the time but the true equation is lyric, melody and phrasing.
    Without great phrasing you cannot have a great song.
    Phrasing is every bit as important as lyric and melody. Sometimes more important than lyrics.
    Many people love a song but really have no idea what the lyrics are.
    They actually love the phrasing and the melody.

    James Robert Webb - August 24, 2018 reply

    I agree. The best songs usually check all boxes of greatness: melody, phrasing/meter and the words/language (even if they’re nonsense).

    Magicsong - February 24, 2019 reply

    I agree. Phrasing brings the words to life and infuses them with emotion, beyond and despite the simple meaning. Phrasing also brings the music to the front of awareness, instead of letting it run underneath the words,; or as often happens , letting it run over the lyric, diminishing and drowning it.

    patty - June 14, 2019 reply

    so true!!

  • Peter Kerr - August 22, 2018 reply

    I agree that putting the extra effort by using a Thesauras, analyzing the flow of the lyrics and ensuring that your emotions are being communicated make good writing sense. Rather than lose the emotion of a song, the extra effort will enhance the song’s emotional link with listeners.

  • Blessin f - August 23, 2018 reply

    This was very helpful, love the accuracy

    Katy Rockford - December 17, 2018 reply

    Yeah, I personally think that this might work….

  • Lori Lynn - August 23, 2018 reply

    Thank you. Those were some good general guidelines. I love writing lyrics, it is my favorite part of songwriting. I wrote an article about a speech that I gave as a freshman in high school. It is the best lesson that I ever had in poetry and stuck with me all of these years. This article analyzes Force Ten from Rush…http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Language-of-Lyrics—Analysis-of-Rushs-Force-10&id=3369289

  • Richard Moore - August 24, 2018 reply

    Good to know it’s a couple I’ve been working on thanks for the notes and just love reverbnation

  • Whats Yours - August 25, 2018 reply

    If whole libraries have been written on the art of the lyric, please list a couple of the most useful ones. Thanks.

  • Mukul Choudhary - August 26, 2018 reply

    Its very enthusiastic knowledge of music

  • Jesse - August 31, 2018 reply

    Don’t be a stranger to using google to find words that rhyme. One of my favorite tricks for rhyming is one Eminem uses a lot. Breaking up a one syllable word and making it a two syllable word if the word doesn’t rhyme. Like the word orange. Break it up. O-range. The three bears were eating their porridge. In the woods they would forage. Kinda like that

    Crystal D - February 15, 2019 reply

    So true

    Crystal D - February 15, 2019 reply

    Well explained Jesse. But the way you just phrased that also made your reply sound super awesome and cute

  • John Jacker - November 2, 2018 reply

    Hi, This is very goog. Thank you

  • Christopher - November 13, 2018 reply

    I used to be into writing poems and my lyrics were on par. But ever since I stopped, I struggle in writing good content for my songs and I’ve shied away from writing lyrics and only freestyle by using normal day to day vocab that a two year old would grasp if they listened closely.

    Mario Da Silva - February 5, 2019 reply

    Hey man, I had a similar issue!
    Ever since I stopped creating music for like an entire year
    I then later came back to it I had a really hard time creating anything
    I ended up freestyling on every beat which eventually just started killing my love for music
    I started looking on youtube for help and came across someone who shared so much valuable information
    It made songwriting so much easier for me and everything else in music in general
    He literally goes into the studio showing you how all the greats write songs you should really check his course out bro
    I promise you, you won’t regret it! Take your time to read everything and watch the testimonials it is really good

    Stay safe and keep writing bro!

  • Charlotte - February 14, 2019 reply

    Very helpful. I have newly started writing songs and Theaurus have been greeat help in suggesting keywords. Thank you
    Keep the good job up!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *