Every lyricist has an opinion on battling writers block. Some are easy to follow where others are quite complex.
For me, not knowing if I can fill the page with anything that makes sense freaks me out! Music and lyrics go hand in hand, so one without the other is hauntlingly lonely and sad. Staring at a blank page that grows increasingly larger with each second, can make your task of writing difficult.
Looking for ways to lighten up on how you feel is usually done before you even look at the page. When you are staring at the page it's too late. You may start to spiral in like I do. It's better to prime the pump first.
Here are some of my tips:
You finally did it… You’ve got a whole verse and chorus on the page. You are proud you sit back and let out that long sigh!
you reread what you wrote pick up your favorite blue writing pen and start scratching out and rewriting over words and lines, thinking to yourself I can do better then this. These words don’t really make sense, is this what I really want to say? (more…)
There are a few ways to look at choosing a point of view. We all know a song can be written a million different ways, but concentrating on what way will shine a light on the story we are writing, is a completely different issue. Every writer wants the lyric to jump off the page and through the microphone and overwhelmingly connecting with the listener. There are a few tricks of the trade to help make this happen.
There are questions you can ask and fill in the answers to help you with your song. Some of these ideas become part of the way you write without ever realizing you are doing it. Once you learn them they become second nature as you are writing; which is a good thing because writers already have enough to think about…:)
After we have written a verse and a chorus or two, we may think to ourselves this song just needs something more.
At that point you may be crossing the bridge. You may need another two lines musically or lyrically to add something special for the finished touch.
A lyrical or musical piece that closes the gap between the second verse and the chorus. Or an extra special something that completes the whole song idea.
Like a cherry on top of ice cream.
Have you heard the saying don't bore us, get to the chorus? It means don't take too long, don't write a long windy intro. We want to hear the chorus sooner then later. If you are playing your tune for a publisher or A/R person they really don't want to hear a long intro. Get to your refrain (chorus) between 30 -60 seconds, no more. Unless you are writing an Opera…:)
The definition of a chorus is the section of the song that hooks you, pulls you in and is easily remembered. This part of the song should catch the listeners ear and make the song memorable. It's the section that you keep singing over and over in your head. As a writer you will want to make sure this part is hammered home. The listener looks forward to this section of the song, they are conditioned to hear this over and over throughout the song.
I'm going to change gears with this post. I was reading an article online and it hit me, what does follow your bliss mean? Am I following my bliss? What about you? Is it even possible to do such a thing?
I started to think about this, what is my bliss?…lol
I mean come on, it shouldn't be that complicated…at least I don't think it should…;)
You hear crazy stories from songwriters that have made it in the music industry, about how little money kept them afloat and what they compromised on. Jason Blume comes to mind, his stories are wild. Eating cat food. (look it up) I don't think I have that much dedication! Tuna yes, cat food no. I'm sure you get what I'm saying. It takes dedication and compromise to get somewhere in this crazy industry we call songwriting! Sometimes even thinking out of the box… gasp!
Money is an important part of surviving in the industry. Without it you have no demo's, no networking at parties or shows, no classes, no critiques. You need money and you have to have a plan.
Filler Words! Cliches!
Songwriters do use them, the trick is to not overuse these little ditties. Believe me they are easily abused. I've done it! I've also heard current songs on the radio with some cliche written in. But if you are the artist and writer, it flies, if you are writing for someone else, filler and cliche should be used sparingly or not at all.
As lyricists, the responsibility of writing as tightly and strong as possible is up to us, we make it easier for publishers to pass on material if we don't. Working this way, our songs are more readily received by seasoned writers and players in the industry.
As a progressing lyricist, you may want to solicit opinions about your songs. Criticism can be very helpful when trying to "write up". Especially if you intend to stay in the writing business. You will need to understand that there are different styles of critiques along with and including appropriate responses and behavior from you the songwriter.
IMPORTANT: If you don't want to hear anything negative DO NOT ask someone to critique your song. Most lyrics have room for improvement and rewrites.
Okay here we go:
In short, a lyric verse is the story line of the song; the details and furniture of your song topic.
In music the form of each verse should be identical. The first written line in each verse should have the same number of syllables and same meter.
I am sure we all have come across this issue. Counting out each syllable till you get the correct amount for the melody of the song. (in the beginning this is a pain, but it becomes old hat, after a while you say your lines and go, eh I need more here, you get a feel for it)
It's good advice to say that what you write for the first verse has to be able to fit the other verses.
It would be so nice to just write a song or lyric the way we want it and then move on. But the industry has standards just like every other occupation in life. If you want to be taken seriously you have to learn the standard song forms or structure. This isn't complicated. Once you memorize them and start writing with them it becomes automatic. You don't even have to think about it. You just say to yourself "oh yeah the hook goes here". No big deal!
Let me say, if you are fighting the industry and want to write how you want to write, that's fine but adopt what other's before you have adopted. Everyday, write one for you and one for the industry.
I do recognise that sometimes creativity is hard to control, so you have to just let it out and roll with it.
The debate of how to write a good song can go on forever, and it has! So what's the answer to the timeless question? Part of what makes a good piece of music, is what the public says is a good piece of music. That part of the puzzle we have no control over!
So by definition, it's not worth wasting brain cells thinking about it. Lets move to somethings we do have control over.
The other parts of what make a good song is how it's lyrically written and musically written. We have control over the structure, emotional connection and universal appeal of the lyric, so lets concentrate there.
I have been told I naturally write poetry. To the point where I didn't want to pick up a pencil or pen ever again. But, I moved on and pushed through it.
Being able to handle criticism is another topic we will cover later.
I am stronger for having gone through it and it did help me learn how to recognize the difference between poetry and lyrics.
There are a few questions to help you figure out what you naturally write.
Poetry writings have tell signs that you have a poem in front of you instead of a lyric.