A lyricist’s job is to write the words of a song. In contrast to songwriters, lyricists focus only on writing the lyrics of a song, instead of creating the music too. They usually write the words for plays, advertisements, individual songs or entire albums.
There are various ways that lyricists work. Some write lyrics only for a selective group of people that they tend to work with, while other work more like freelances and take over works for multiple clients during certain periods of time.
No matter the way a lyricist chooses to work, there is involved a lot of learning and practice to be successful and recognizable, and that requires time investment and a level of experience. Let’s find out how you can become a lyricist too.
Find your inspiration
The most important tool for a lyricist is the inspiration that help him write. There are countless sources of inspiration not only for lyricists, but also for all kinds of artists such as songwriters, singers, music producers, audio engineers and more.
You need to find your own best sources of inspiration and start using them in your script so that you can achieve the best results possible.
The source of inspiration for a lyricist can be anything. From the simpler thing, that no one would pay attention to during the day, to the most important life-changing events that tend to stay in peoples’ mind during their entire lifetime.
Both positive and negative moments can be the source of inspiration for many lyricists. Some choose to write about the facts and their feelings from a raw perspective, being as descriptive as possible, while there are groups of lyricists that write more abstractly, transforming their negative or positive feelings into allegories.
Inspiration usually comes naturally to a lyricist although some tend to work better under pressure. Be observing and pay attention to understand which your own sources of inspiration are so that you can use them whenever possible and benefit from them.
Read a lot
In order to be able to write, you have to be able to read and vice versa. Reading is the best way for lyricists to get inspired, enrich their vocabulary and learn more about the work of other writers in order to improve their own.
You can read every type of book. Most of them will be valuable sources of information, such as literature, fiction, poems, history or anything really that can enhanced your creative writing ability and challenge you to experiment with your limitations.
Furthermore, through reading you can start learning how to use the language more properly, especially when you focus on great works of writing art, and learn from more experienced writers how to manipulate words and boost your wordplay skills.
The general rule here is that the more you read the more you learn. In addition to this, you can make a list of your favorite books, scripts and lyrics after you read them, and then revisit them to study them carefully in order to acquire knowledge from each author’s writing skills, book or song structure.
Learn how to write lyrics
Writing lyrics cannot be considered the same thing as writing an essay or a book. When writing lyrics for a song you must combine the written words with the rhythm of the music in order to create a harmonic result.
This is the main characteristic that distinguishes the lyrics from the other forms of written content. Lyrics have to be clear and emphatic, in order to be able to deliver a strong and immediate message to the listener.
You have to learn how to create a plan for your lyrics when they are about to be used in a song. You need to come up with a theme or story as an initial preplan and try to base your lyrics’ structure on this story.
You can start by giving a rough title to your lyrics so that you have a basic concept. The title has to be something relevant to the main topic or story of your lyrics, although it does not need to summarize your text.
Try to be creative and come up with a memorable title for your lyrics, so that you can attract people’s attention as fast as possible. The title of a song is one of the most important aspects that make the listeners want to listen to the content of the specific song.
Songs usually require both verses and hooks. While verses most of the times give you more room to expand on the topic, hooks on the other hand are smaller parts of the song, which emphasize its entire meaning and purpose.
Although you have a smaller room to write when you create a hook, you have to be more creative and make the message of your lyrics stronger and more emphatic. You have to practice a lot in order to find the right way to achieve this, and acquire the skill to do this combined with the rhythm of the music that will accompany your lyrics.
Learn song structure
Learning how to structure a song is a key factor when it comes to improving your lyric writing skills. You need to study other lyricists, listen to how they apply the lyrics they have written to the songs, and the ways that singers use the words to make their meaning stand out.
You should have in mind that every song usually consists of two or three different verses, one chorus that is repeat two or three times during the song an intro, an outro and one or two bridges which are used in order to separate different parts of the song, a verse from a chorus for example.
The best way to get an idea on how to structure your own songs, is by listening to the work of your favorite artists and making a list of the songs you like. Listen carefully to the ways they have used their lyrics into the song, and apply the same tactics to your own creations.
Always make the hooks smaller than the verses and try to summarize more or less the general theme of the song. Try to make them even more inclusive than the verses and always be creative in order to captivate the listener’s interest as much as you can.
Remember that the hooks will be repeated multiple times during a song, so they have to be really well worked and make sense regarding the rest of the song.
Considering the bridges, they are of minor importance in comparison to the verses and the hooks, and they are used as little pauses or separations between the main parts of the songs. You can use one-sentence lyrics or even individual words to create the bridges.
Improve your lyrics
You should take every chance you can to improve your lyrics. First and foremost, you should adjust your daily routine and create a schedule that will allow you to practice every single day. This way, you will be always ready to write new lyrics and you will not face long abstention periods from your writing process.
It is vital that you stay in touch constantly with writing, as it gets much harder to get back to your regular schedule if you start taking long breaks from writing.
What is more, you should devote large amount of your time reading as we mentioned before. Take into serious consideration to start studying dictionaries in order to learn word etymologies. This will help you look into the deeper meaning of the words and understand them better.
Learn about every figure of speech you can and try to have a very specific understanding for each in your mind. Figures of speech will make you able to use metaphors and wordplays in much smarter ways than you did before, because they can literally be used in countless several ways.
Try not to force figures of speech to make your lyrics sound more impressive. Use them sensibly and let them come out naturally when needed. It is very easy to start stuffing your papers with impressive words that make no sense, so try to avoid it.
Take music lessons
Consider taking music lessons in order to boost your musicality. You are going to find this very beneficial in several occasions, especially the ones that you will have to work with musicians or singers.
Musicians, music producers and sound engineers tend to use very specific and technical terms, which sometimes sound like a foreign language to the rest of the people. Your professions requires you to work with these people, so if you have a better understanding of musical terms you will establish a better communication between you.
What is more, you will be able to address your concerns much easier and explain things to them more accurately, avoiding to make mistakes because of misunderstandings.
A great way to help yourself obtain a more music perspective over your lyrics, is to learn how to play an instrument, for instance the piano. You do not need to be the best pianist of the world, it will just be an extra tool, which will make you capable of acquiring a better sense of the rhythm or tonality.
Furthermore, you could also take vocal lessons. These will be extremely helpful and will enhance your perspective over how your lyrics can be used by the singers you work with, and make it easier for you to decide which lyrics suit best to which artists.
Collaborate with other artists
Collaborating with other artists is a magnificent way to see how your lyrics can be applied on music productions in action. You can see the songs created from scratch, in a process that requires a music producer or an entire band, a singer or multiple singers and your lyrics.
Creating a song with your lyrics from scratch, will make you able to understand how to adjust your lyrics on music productions, and how to make them more convenient for the singer in order to be able to present them in ways that are more efficient.
Make sure that you pay close attention to the entire process, and make a case of asking questions whenever you face situation that you do not understand. Music production and singing are more technical aspects of music that you will have to get familiar with.
What is more, consider collaborating with other lyricists too. You can write lyrics together for a song, or one of the two could finish the lyrics of a song that the other has started. This way you can get inspired by each other’s work, and discover new methods of writing lyrics.
Networking is the way things work considering the music industry. If your goal is to make it as a lyricist and work professionally, you need to start meeting with influential people of your industry and start connecting.
You have to hang out in places that managers, songwriters, singers and music producers hang out, such as recording studios, and participate in discussions to gain as much experience and knowledge about the music industry as you can.
Maintain good relationships with these people and show some genuine interest in their work, because it is the best way to understand how the music industry works. Pay attention to the details of their work process that they may share with you, and apply them to your work too whenever needed.
Promote you work
Be always ready to promote your work. You cannot hide in the shadows and expect to get recognized for the quality of your work if no one knows that you write lyrics.
Showcase your writings to people relevant to the music industry and try to sound confident about the quality of your work. They will be able to understand the potential of your lyrics and tell you their opinion. What is more, if they like your work they are the right people to promote it to music producers, singers or even record labels.
If you have the possibility, reach out to artists yourself. Do not expect them to come knocking on your door. You have to present them your work without hesitation, and do not be discouraged by rejections or people telling you that you need to work harder.
Do your best in order to impress them, and work constantly to improve your lyrics.
Work hard until you find the right opportunity for the right usage of your lyrics!