Whether you’re new to songwriting or have been practising it for years, knowing what to write your lyrics about is always tough to decide. What are songs about nowadays? Think about your favourite song right now, what makes you connect with that song? Most of the time, it is the lyrics because that’s where the artist has an opportunity to tell their story.
Many artists and songwriters base their songs off their own personal experiences as it’s the best inspiration you can have when working on your own art. Use your own experiences to spark your creative drive. Most songs will have strong emotions behind it because it makes the song relatable to listeners, and having lyrics that listeners can connect to is a big plus. Writing lyrics based off personal experiences is a good route to go down when songwriting, because it can make it more true to life.
As with any writing, the way you tell the story matters. One of the major pitfalls of writing is only writing about what happened, which skips all of the emotive elements of the story. Effective storytelling encompasses writing about how you feel about the events that happen to you. Given this, it’s always a good idea for your lyrics to be focused on the thoughts and emotions you feel in your personal experiences.
Here’s an example I came up with:
Bad version: I was in a relationship with a man for a few years. He was a good boyfriend at first before it deteriorated. We ended because I had enough of him taking advantage of my good nature.
Good version: We were young when we fell in love. Now I’m left with a broken shell. You took away a special part of me. Don’t want to cry over you. Don’t want to lay awake at night in pain. I will heal. I will feel good again.
As you can see, the good example doesn’t just say the relationship ended; It conveyed the feelings of hurt and pain from the fallout of the breakup but also shows how the artist, who is struggling with the breakup, still has hope.
The stronger the emotion, the more powerful the song. One of the strongest topics you could base your lyrics on is what is happening in your life right at this moment. That’s where your emotions are at their strongest, and writing your lyrics while you’re living it will help convey really strong and powerful emotions. Leave it too late and you run the risk of forgetting how you felt in the moment. It will be difficult to think clearly while going through an emotionally charged event, so please make sure you look after yourself. If you feel you can write your lyrics while you are living through the moment, then you will find your lyrics will be at its most passionate.
Top advice: Get a notebook and write down all of your thoughts and feelings. Don’t think about how you could write them as lyrics; just write them down as you think of them and as soon as they come to you. This will give you practise in expressing your emotions. After you jot down your emotions freehand, look back and think how you can make them suitable to sing along to music. Writing your thoughts down in the moment will make sure you won’t forget how you felt, which will help you to express them.