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Can't finish my lyrics
Old 27th August 2019
Lives for gear
doorknocker's Avatar
For the last two or three years I've been more or less using Julia Cameron's 'The Artist's Way' method. It was mentioned in Pete Townshend's autobiography, I'd probably wouldn't have gotten into it otherwise as it seems quite new-agey and esoteric. But for me it absolutely works. The basic principle is to write 3 pages of anything (literally whatever comes into your mind) first thing in the morning and doing 'Artist dates' which means spending 2 hours or so a week doing something for yourself that also can be anything like idling through a park or visiting an exhibition (but is not done 'for a goal').

The whole thing is to 'show up at the page' and do the work without second-guessing yourself and by not being inhibited.

Anyway, I think it really helped me get back into songwriting and right now I have a very creative phase. I think the concept of 'receiving' songs or lyrics is basically true but it is easily misunderstood. I think the principle is the same for anything you do in life, if you trust your intuition and don't second-guess ideas -basically if you get 'out of the way' - you will be surprised by the results.

Though i don't listen to much country music (especially not the 'modern Nashville' stuff ) playing in country bands has really had a big influence on my songwriting. Being economical, working around and towards punchlines and writing in character.

Last edited by doorknocker; 27th August 2019 at 07:40 PM..
Old 28th August 2019
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s wave's Avatar
Yea - I think (whatever works) the cut up newspaper trick is real good too especially if you can get another person or so, I find like any work; If you can get a heightened sense of awareness/focus (like ninja) for a minute or two. that is worth an hour or so of trudging, Its the observing and how you look. I have gone through most every technique. And it is nice to be able to draw on a myriad of ways to look at things. When I constantly keep the creativity and and curiosity 'what if' I do this or that things start flowing.
Old 26th September 2019
Try the Periodic Table of Storytelling for some prompts:
Old 26th September 2019
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s wave's Avatar
Originally Posted by wildschwein View Post
Try the Periodic Table of Storytelling for some prompts:
Things/tropes like these are great for brainstorming....
Old 27th September 2019
Lives for gear
Mmmm.. I was trying to think of a song I wrote all the lyrics to....

Found it...

I wrote it at my desk when I was working the service department an Carvin 23 years ago...
Old 28th September 2019
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dc_r's Avatar

Very interesting thread with some great advice.

I am in the same boat. For many years I have been writing musical ideas only and would now like to add lyrics to make songs.

In my research I came across the idea of "found poetry", which is similar to the cutting up the newspapers method (that I know Dylan used), or "found object" in visual arts.

It basically involves trawling for inspiration in writing of other people, which is probably very similar to taking samples from old records or reusing chord progressions from other songs. I think this could be a great starting point for songs where ideas and phrases can be changed and reworked into something completely new.

See: (and have a look at the bottom of the page at "Appropriation in the arts" section for some other examples and approaches.)


I suspect Dylan's method might have been very similar because, if I remember correctly, I read somewhere that he was always reluctant to discuss sources of inspiration for his songs. I also found this: .

Last edited by dc_r; 29th September 2019 at 08:31 AM..
Old 29th September 2019
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Herr Weiss's Avatar

Originally Posted by dc_r View Post
And to think Dylan got the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Anyway, the video you posted did not go through.

Old 29th September 2019
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dc_r's Avatar

Originally Posted by Herr Weiss View Post
And to think Dylan got the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Anyway, the video you posted did not go through.

Well, regardless of the sources or methods he really did come up with some amazing lyrics.

Thanks for alerting me- the video link is now fixed!
Old 29th September 2019
Lives for gear
AlphaDingo's Avatar

I would add:
The writing process is best thought of as the re-writing process. Write as many verses as necessary to to say what you need to say. Don’t be afraid to cannibalize those verses for individual lines.
Read and write Haikus. Those are all about painting complete pictures in a very tight space.
Read and write every day.
Expect your **** to suck initially. When I look back at some of my earlier stuff, I can still smell the stink.
Don’t edit while you’re writing. When you get an idea, barf it onto the page with out thinking about it.
Always carry pen and paper with you. Yes, pen and paper, not your phone for this stuff.
Familiarize yourself with cliches. That way you can avoid them. Or intentionally employ them.
If you’re going to write about a woman’s (or man’s) eyes/hair/nostril, you’d best make it original. Better yet, don’t.

Write what you’d want to listen to.
Old 29th September 2019
Lives for gear
bitman's Avatar
I do this.

I have a tune, maybe with some lyrics, maybe none.
Then I put it on "over and over" in my car, day after day singing sometimes nonsense until the sounds and phrasing begin to jell
with the instrumental. Then usually something will come out and hopefully that can be documented somehow before it's gone for good.

Driving will disconnect you from the task and by week 2 you will even forget you are trying to think of lyrics, that's when inspiration can spark.
Plus you can obsess about your instrumental mix and make it better maybe.

I have had songs that went without lyrics for years, but I believed in the riff. They are done now fwiw.
Old 29th September 2019
Yes to the “found lyrics”/“found poetry”!

I think I already mentioned it but I’ve done this a few times: taking from conversations, texts, random things people say, phrases I hear wherever.

It’s not my main technique but I have 3 or 4 songs where all the lyrics came from this.

But I think it’s good to have a lot of different techniques because hey, whatever makes a good song is worth it, and there’s no one best way!
Old 29th September 2019
Gear Nut

Originally Posted by Jay Northall View Post
I would suggest that you write a short story then work it into a melody. It can be about anything and it doesn't need to rhyme. Sometimes thinking of a song title can get you started.
Yeah I was gonna say this exactly. A song is a story. You should be taking the listener on a journey. So begin with a concept, a theme, an idea. Then think about the narrative arc, the beginning middle and end. Then figure out the ending, where do you want the story/song to resolve.

With these notes, start writing a story - in song form or not. Just write. Then distil that story down into lines of verse and chorus. Like most great art it’s a constant edit, refining and chipping away. Like a sculptor revealing David from a block of marble

This reminds me. I should write more. Heed my own advice

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