Ok so every songwriter has a different method of writing, maybe even a few methods of writing. Here are a few tricks and tips that I use when I write a song.
1. Don't force yourself.
When you force lyrics they sound bad or clich, like this.
What would I do without you, What would I be without you.
Yes they sound decent but they are just very clich especially if it is a love song. Whereas if you take a few minutes and don't think about it, listen to some music, watch TV, play a video game or just sit and strum your guitar or play the piano for a bit until it comes to you. It may even be days before you get something. Ok so here is what I came up with to replace that line.
Is there a question in mind, about what I am with you
Is there a question in mind, about who I am without you
It sounds much better and fits much better into the song, it's actually the chorus of a song I wrote for my friends band.
2. Don't fake your emotions let them flow.
Don't be afraid to let it show that you have feelings. My favorite song to demonstrate this has possibly have to be either Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap or any Dirty Heads song.
Act as if you are talking to your best friend, for girls that's easy, for guys its hard but act is if you are trying to make a girl fall for you. GREAT TIP FOR GUYS! If your not to open about your emotions use metaphors such as this:
I have this etching stuck in my eyes.
Or something like that
3. Metaphors, analogies and similes.
Use them all to your advantage; it conveys messages without being to specific on your exact ordeals. Say I just broke up with my girlfriend/boyfriend instead of saying something like:
You took your love away
Say something more like:
Ripped away feels like abandonment from you
See that could mean a lot more to a lot more people than just losing a girlfriend, such as a death of a loved one or someone being taken away such as childhood friend moving away.
Compare things such as:
I get lost in thought like a lost island in the oceanKind of a negative comparison. Here is a positive comparison.
I can hear and the blind can see
Don't be so literal, be vague but have a meaning.
A literal lyric:
Your eyes are blue
A vague statement:
I stare at the ocean and see in your soul
The second one is good but it don't make much since so it makes it very vague.
A good statement for something like this:
Staring into your soul through your steel iris
4. Music, not always important to lyrics.
If you are in the car driving to work school or being picked up by your mom, if you think you have a lyric pull over write it down real quick or pull your phone out and record the lyrics (if you have a sound recorder on your phone, or carry a digital recorder with you)
5. Record as much as possible, whatever lyrics you got record them either on paper or record it on a digital recorder.
6. You don't always have to make every lyric make sense. I have a lot of things like this.
I escape the virtual paranormal activity by running through a door to the preverbal sunset into my soul
It gives you stuff to put into songs later, like I can take snippets from lines like that and actually incorporate them into songs at a later time or sometimes even use the full line in a song.
7. Keep a journal of thoughts, memories, events (big or small) and daily happenings.
Keep a personal journal, the stupidest, smallest, uninteresting things can turn into a song very easily. I keep one through text messages, facebook and myspace. I put every thought and every stupid thing on myspace, facebook and I text people all day so I pretty much have a record of what I do every day.
This helps because if you are trying to write something like about a emotion or a thought you can look back on yourself over the past few days, weeks, months, years; or however long you keep your journals and say to yourself I know how that feels and put more emotion and make a more in tuned song.
8. Make a story, act as if you are writing a story, make a plot, characters (Such as yourself and a girl or yourself and your father) and make a series of events. Like so:
My father left when I was 10, but soon after my mother met Bill and they got married
That is very literal but it can be turned into a great song just off that little bit of information. Actually I took the three little pigs and turned it into a song, so this strategy does work.
9. Stress, get nervous, get anxious.
What I mean by this is, you are your worst critic, stress over whether your lyric is good and if it's not don't change it. Get opinions about your song before you drastically change it. Like so:
I met an angel walking down the street
Now I will probably change that line just a little like maybe instead of using angel I'll replace it with girl, but I will not completely change it to this.
While strolling down the road I met this girl
I will write that down on another page or put it ()'s and if I don't like it later I will change it to the second line or I might use both.