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There’s something magical about good song lyrics. They’re relatable, or poignant, or they just really make you feel a certain way. We all know great lyrics when we hear them, but what exactly makes them so great? How do you write your own song lyrics that convey your message and help people connect with your music? In this article, we break down the songwriting process step-by-step, from getting inspiration to crafting the perfect lyrics to pairing your lyrics with music. Once you know the basics, you'll be ready to write a song whenever inspiration strikes.

Part 1
Part 1 of 6:

Understanding Common Structures

  1. 1
    Start with the AABA structure. The AABA structure is probably the most common structure of a song in modern popular music. In the study of song structures, A usually signifies a verse and B usually signifies a chorus. In other words, in this structure there's a first verse, second verse, chorus, and then a final verse. Experiment with this basic structure for lyric writing before moving on to more complex ones.[1]
  2. 2
    Understand the parts of a song. There are several parts of a song. Your song can include all of them or none of them. It really all depends on you. There are standard layouts of these parts that are used in most songs, however, so in order to understand how most songs sound, you'll need to understand the parts.[2] They include:
    • An Introduction - this is the section at the beginning which leads into the song. Sometimes it might sound different from the rest of the song, might be faster or slower, or it might not exist at all. Many songs do not have an introduction, so don't feel like you have to use it.[3]
    • A Verse - This is the main part of the song. It is usually fifty percent to twice the number of lines as the chorus but it does not have to be. What gives away a section of a song as a verse is that the melody is the same but the lyrics are different between the different verses.[4]
    • A Chorus - The chorus is the part of the song that repeats without changing: both the lyrics and melody are unchanged or nearly unchanged. This is usually where you try to fit the catchiest part of your song (usually called the hook).[5]
    • A Bridge - The bridge is a part that exists in some songs but not all. Usually coming sometime after the second chorus, the bridge is a part of the song that sounds completely different than the rest of the song. It is usually short, just a line or two of lyrics, and will sometimes lead into a key change.[6]
  3. 3
    Experiment with other structures as you get better at lyric writing. There are of course, many different standard song structures. You can try AABB, ABA, AAAA, ABCBA, ABABCB, ABACABA, and so on.
    • C usually signifies a bridge, other letters that you see cited elsewhere likely just mean that that section of the song is none of the traditional parts and is unique to itself (sort of like taking a verse from a different song and putting it in).
  4. 4
    Try free form songs. Of course, if you want to challenge your skills, you can try to write something that breaks from traditional forms and does not follow a standard structure. You might try this if you want to take a different approach to lyric writing. This can be very challenging though and is not the best way to get started.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 6:

Getting Inspiration

  1. 1
    Use stream of consciousness exercises. Stream of consciousness writing is where you just write and keep writing and don't stop: just write everything that comes into your head. This will capture many ideas that change quickly but it can help you find ideas when you're really lost.[7]
    • Do your exercises every day to help you brainstorm. In time, this may help you write better lyrics.
  2. 2
    Look at existing songs. Look at popular songs which are known for great lyrics to get inspiration. Additionally, study your favorite songs and consider why you like them. You can learn a lot from thinking about what makes a song good vs what makes a song bad. Look for the kinds of things they talk about, how they talk about them, what rhymes they use, the rhythm of the lyrics, etc.
    • What you consider to be a good song might differ from someone else's preferences. Focus more on what you like because that's what's important.
    • For practice, you might try writing different lyrics for a song you like. You might change a few lines or create a totally new version.
  3. 3
    Follow your own opinions in deciding what to write. Decide what type of music you want to write, and figure out what types of lyrics you like and dislike. It's really up to you what kind of music you want to write. You, whether you believe it or not, are a growing artist, and as an artist, you can use your own path and formulate your own opinions of various fellow artists and their work. So, if you want to write something similar to rocker Avril Lavigne rather than classic Frank Sinatra, don't let someone tell you you can't write how you want to.
    • If you're not sure what kind of music you want to write, give your favorite songs a listen and look for similarities.
    • Find the song writers who penned your favorite songs. Then, check out their body of work to look for trends and to evaluate their style.
  4. 4
    Look at existing poems. If you're hard up for inspiration but you want to keep practicing your song writing, try adapting existing poems. Older poems (think Lord Byron or Robert Burns) have wonderful ideas but might not seem all that modern. Take on the challenge and adapt them. Can you make a rap song out of Shakespeare? A folk song from E. E. Cummings? This type of challenge will improve your skills and give you a great starting point.[8]
  5. 5
    Be true to your style. Don't feel pressured to write songs like someone else because everyone has a different style. It's totally okay to take a different approach to song writing! Some write freely from their mind's eye, while others write with a specific intention. While there are lots of rules and conventions to music, at the end of the day it is a creative venture, which means that the most important thing is that it expresses you.
    • Songwriting is an art-form, so it's good to develop your own style. Don't feel like you need to do what everyone else is doing.
  6. 6
    Keep writing to get to the good stuff. Get a journal and be ready to write down a lot of stuff that won't work in order to get to the stuff that does. This is how the creative process works: everyone has to make bad things on the way to making good things. Write as much as you can until you feel it is finished or ready to be set aside. To even write a single word or sound is an excellent start. Let the song ferment. The songwriting process takes time!
    • Lyric writing may go through stages. Don't worry if what you're putting down on paper doesn't look like a song at first. You'll be able to shape it later.
    • Keep everything. If you write a single sentence of a song down, it always leads to something else sooner.
    • It's okay if your songs aren't very good at first. You can always revise them to write better lyrics.
  7. 7
    Write all the time. You should always start by just writing. Write about your feelings. Write about the world around you. Describe a person or a thing that matters to you. This is to help you find the words most worthy of a song. The poetry on which your song will be built (whether it's an actual poem or just a few phrases that you want to cobble together into something better). Remember: it doesn't have to always be depressing or angry. Or even have an emotion. A laundry list could be poetic if done right.
    • Journal entries can be a big inspiration for a song. For instance, when you're going through hard times, you might write song lyrics that encapsulate your frustration, despair or hope. This will help your listeners relate to you.
    • You're probably going to get writer's block, as it happens to everyone. The best way to get past writer's block is to just get words down on paper. Don't worry if they're good or not.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 6:

Keeping Music in Mind

  1. 1
    Understand music notation. You probably remember hearing about the conservation of matter in your science classes (the idea that nothing is destroyed completely). Well, the same rule generally applies to music. Learn about how music notation works (bars, measures, notes, rests, etc.) so that you can make sure your lyrics fit in with the music. The short version of the advice is that you should make sure your lines have roughly even syllables and that your rhythm stays steady (don't speed up too much to fit in extra words).
    • Think of a section of music as being like four cups of water. Now, you can pour half of one of the cups into a fifth cup, but that now means that you have two half-full cups. The first doesn't get any more water in it. You similarly can't add extra beats without making it up somewhere (usually with a pause).
  2. 2
    Start with a melody already written. When you first start songwriting, if you're doing it on your own it's best to start with a melody already written. This is easier for most people than trying to create a melody which matches existing lyrics. You can write your own melody, work with a musically gifted friend, or you can adapt a classical melody, such as from old folk songs (just be sure to use songs in the public domain).
  3. 3
    Stay in a range of about 2 octaves. Not everyone has Mariah Carey's vocal range. When you come up with a melody, keep the notes within a reasonable range so that someone can actually sing it, so avoid anything above 2 octaves, unless you know the person you're writing for can sing those notes.[9]
  4. 4
    Add in parts for the singer to take a breath. Singers are human too and they need to breathe. Put an extra two to four beats here and there that allow the singer to stop for a second to catch their breath. This also gives the listener a chance to take in what you are saying.[12]
    • A good example of this is the USA's national anthem, after the line "For the land of the free". There is a pause before "And the home of the brave", which allows the singer to recover from the very powerful previous few bars.
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Part 4
Part 4 of 6:

Finding Your Words

  1. 1
    Show, don't tell. "I'm so sad, I just feel bad, my girlfriend left me today..."....No. Don't do this. This is a fast way to make your song forgettable. The best lyrics, like any good writing, get us to feel emotions because they capture that experience, not because they tell us what to feel. Try to write about what it's like to feel something, instead of just telling your audience.[13]
    • A good example of an alternative to this "I'm so sad" thing is from Damien Rice's song The Animals Were Gone: "At night I dream without you, and hope I don't wake up; 'Cause waking up without you is like drinking from an empty cup".
    • Brainstorm some ideas so you can see what you have and choose or even build off of an existing idea. It is probably best if you have an inspiration.
  2. 2
    Rhyme within reason. You know when you see a song written by someone who isn't very good and the lyrics just come off as cheesy? This is often because they rhyme too much or very badly. You should avoid having all of your lines rhyme, and the rhymes that you do use should look natural. Don't put weird phrases or words into your lyrics just to get a rhyme. Really, your lyrics don't have to rhyme at all. Plenty of songs have non-rhyming lyrics.
    • Good: "You make me feel real again/You just have to smile and I know/The sun's coming out - Amen!"
    • Bad: "I really love my cat/My cat is where it's at/Her tail looks like a bat/She's getting kind of fat..."
    • Of course, there are some genre considerations. Rap often has far more rhyming than other genres, but even then it's not required. It's just stylistic.
  3. 3
    Try non-standard rhyme schemes. If you do want to make your rhyming stand out a bit more and avoid sounding cheesy, you can experiment with different styles of rhyming. Did you know that there's more ways to rhyme than just what you learned in school? Explore assonance/consonance rhymes, pararhyme, alliteration, forced rhymes, etc.
    • For example, Macklemore's Same Love uses many examples of assonance rhymes and other non-standard rhymes: lately/daily, anointed/poisoned, important/support it, etc.
  4. 4
    Avoid cliches. You want to avoid cliches because these keep your songs from standing out and don't show off your unique talent. If you have someone down on their knees (especially if they're begging please), someone is walking down the street (either it's a girl or it's you, either way, it's been done), or you just have to ask "why can't you see", you probably need to go back to the drawing board.
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Part 5
Part 5 of 6:

Wrapping Up

  1. 1
    Read what you wrote. What is the bigger picture? Does the song form a narrative, a declaration, or a description? Is it a call to action, a set of directions, or a greeting? Is it philosophy or a reflection? Is it genuinely nonsensical? Does it have multiple forms? Start moving around words and changing them so they fit in with the rest of the lyrics. Think about how you want to come across and how that balances with what you want to say. Do you like the placement of the vowel and consonant sounds? Does a line have multiple meanings? Does a particular phrase stand out? Do you want to repeat a line or word? Remember, the first time an audience hears a song, they only hear the parts that stand out the most.
  2. 2
    Rewrite. Who says you can't change what you have written? If you like the original, then keep it. But most lyricists need to play with the song a bit to get that perfect sound. A good song can be written in one draft, but more often it takes a while. Even move around entire verses so the song has continuity. Sometimes, a song takes on a whole new meaning.
    • Try to write a great first line to hook the listener.
    • Revising your song is the best way to write better lyrics.
  3. 3
    Consult with others. Once you're done with your song, it can be a really good idea to share a test version with others. Even if they're just reading your lyrics, they may be able to find places where the rhythm is off or where the rhymes sound strange. Of course, music by committee is a bad idea but if they catch something and you agree it's wrong, fix it![14]
  4. 4
    Do something with your song! We make the world a better place when we share the things that we create. It's okay to be shy and just because you wrote a song doesn't mean that you have to go out and do a concert. But you should write it down or record it in such a way that you can share it with others. Don't hide your incredible work!
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Part 6
Part 6 of 6:

Getting Extra Help

  1. 1
    Learn how to write the music. If you've written your lyrics but you've never written a song before, you might want to get some help learning how to compose a song. It is not actually all that different from writing lyrics. There are also standards and guides that you can use as a basis to work from.
    • With practice, you may be able to teach yourself how to play a musical instrument. However, you might prefer to take classes. This will make it easier to learn proper techniques and concepts like chord progression.
    • Learning to write music will help you write a whole song rather than just writing song lyrics.
  2. 2
    Learn to read music. Although it isn't strictly necessary, having a basic understanding for how music works will significantly increase your ability to write good songs. You might even be able to write them down for others to play!
  3. 3
    Improve your singing. Being a better singer will be help you figure out what notes you're looking for when writing your music. Work on your vocal skills and you'll be surprised how much it can help.
  4. 4
    Gain basic instrument skills. Knowing some basics about how to play standard instruments can help a lot with songwriting. Consider learning how to play the piano or how to play the guitar. Both can be self-taught and are not too complicated.
  5. 5
    Create a melody to match the lyrics. Try creating an original melody on the guitar. Also try singing along with the guitar while creating the melody. Finally, add keyboard,percussion and bass to the music to make your song even better.
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Expert Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    How can I be sure I'm writing my song in a good vocal range?
    Amy Chapman, MA
    Amy Chapman, MA
    Voice & Speech Coach
    Amy Chapman MA, CCC-SLP is a vocal therapist and singing voice specialist. Amy is a licensed and board certified speech & language pathologist who has dedicated her career to helping professionals improve and optimize their voice. Amy has lectured on voice optimization, speech, vocal health, and voice rehabilitation at universities across California, including UCLA, USC, Chapman University, Cal Poly Pomona, CSUF, CSULA. Amy is trained in Lee Silverman Voice Therapy, Estill, LMRVT, and is a part of the American Speech and Hearing Association.
    Amy Chapman, MA
    Voice & Speech Coach
    Expert Answer
    Try to keep it within 2 octaves. If you're trying to find your own vocal range, hum down to the lowest note you can hold clearly. Then, hum up to find the highest note you can hold for at least 3 seconds. This will be your range.
  • Question
    Is it necessary to have a verses and then a chorus in order in a song?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It doesn't matter what order you put them in, as long as the song makes sense and flows well.
  • Question
    How can I get some proper ideas for the lyrics?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Think about your day, your emotions, the conversations you heard etc. Use them and you'll find yourself with an amazing song! If you cannot think of one, then think about your dreams, ambitions, inspirations, aspirations, etc. especially the ones that first convinced you to write song lyrics.
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  • Think about who you want to hear your song. What is it that you want them to hear?
  • Never dismiss an idea for a song as "too stupid". Many of the best songs are about the most outlandish topics.
  • It's good to have a song writing notebook or perhaps a file on your computer. This helps you organize your thoughts better.
Show More Tips


  • Don't plagiarize a song somebody else wrote or you could get in some serious legal trouble. But it's good to pick a style of lyrics or music you like. So if you like Katy Perry, write pop like her. Or if you like Taylor Swift, write lots of love songs.
  • Do not rhyme constantly, unless that is exactly what you intended. It is okay at some point, but too much gets annoying, as seen below;
    • Example: My life is horrible and I think it is horrible because I left my cat at my Grandma's and she won't give my cat back so what am I going to do ohhh yeah... What am I gonna do? (that was bad)

Things You'll Need

  • An instrument - the guitar,the piano or whatever you can play (recommended to have on hand to create the melody)
  • Pencil or pen
  • Paper or computer (depending on whether you choose to write or type your lyrics)
  • You can also use your mobile phone instead of pen and paper

About This Article

Amy Chapman, MA
Co-authored by:
Voice & Speech Coach
This article was co-authored by Amy Chapman, MA. Amy Chapman MA, CCC-SLP is a vocal therapist and singing voice specialist. Amy is a licensed and board certified speech & language pathologist who has dedicated her career to helping professionals improve and optimize their voice. Amy has lectured on voice optimization, speech, vocal health, and voice rehabilitation at universities across California, including UCLA, USC, Chapman University, Cal Poly Pomona, CSUF, CSULA. Amy is trained in Lee Silverman Voice Therapy, Estill, LMRVT, and is a part of the American Speech and Hearing Association. This article has been viewed 3,308,814 times.
253 votes - 81%
Co-authors: 276
Updated: August 25, 2023
Views: 3,308,814
Categories: Featured Articles | Lyrics
Article SummaryX

To write song lyrics, try writing down everything that pops into your head for several minutes without stopping. Then, take a look at what you've written to see if anything inspires you. You can also try looking at different songs and poems for inspiration and to get an idea of what kind of lyrics you enjoy. As you're writing your song, focus on describing how you feel in interesting ways as opposed to just telling people, which will make your song more relatable and memorable. To learn how to organize your song, keep reading!

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    Jun 17, 2016

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