Every musician has days when he or she encounters writer’s block and doesn’t know what to write. Here are three suggestions for lyrics concepts when you’re stuck.
1. Write about a widely-known fictional character.
When you’re running out of ideas for song concepts, consider stories that are already written. Choose a widely-known fictional character, such as Peter Pan, and lyricize his or her story. Start with the fairytale, then extract the unwritten emotions and thoughts of the character and tailor the words to your style. To go even further, you can relate this character to the world at large; maybe these lyrics will speak to those who feel the same way.
Singer Ruth B’s song “Lost Boy” begins with the narration of Peter Pan and Captain Hook’s story, and she later connects the song with all those who may be feeling like a “lost boy.”
2. Write about a personal experience.
One thing that music is able to do very well is evoke emotion; that may even be the ultimate goal for every composition. If you’re writing blankly about generic things such as a breakup you’ve never truly experienced, you will definitely not tap into the core of the matter. When you’re at a loss of what to write, remember that it should come from your heart. No one knows your experiences like you do, and only you are able to genuinely illustrate the emotions you felt at that moment in your life. Like writing poetry, writing lyrics about a personal experience will draw out particular emotions that will certainly touch audiences. Not only should you describe the incident, but you must also write how it felt. Only then will your music truly touch the heart of listeners.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin wrote “Fix You” for his wife at the time who’d just lost her father. Notice that he did not once explicitly say what happened; rather, he took the emotion that came with the experience and wrote lyrics centered around that somber feeling.
3. Narrate a story.
This suggestion can be a combination of the above two. To overcome writer’s block, you can also simply lyricize a story. Even events as simple as walking past a playground, eating a home-cooked meal, or reading a book are worth writing about. Taking these moments and weaving artistic, descriptive lyrics will definitely result in beautiful words to a beautiful melody. The most important part is how you take this action and make it your own.
Lukas Graham told the story of growing up in his song “Seven Years.” This experience is not only solely his, but also many others’. He took a common event, aging, and lyricized it into a heart-jerking song.
When you find yourself stuck during the lyrics-writing process, consider the above three suggestions and concepts. They are good jumping-off points that may lead you to even greater epiphanies. Just remember that when you let your heart and your emotions, tell a story, be it a well-known one or a personal one, you have already succeeded in reaching the hearts of listeners.
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Angelina Hue enjoys listening to a wide variety of music, from instrumental movie scores to alternative indie to Korean pop music. She also likes to make short films and write fiction.