Lyrics, so they're the things that are sung by vocalists' right?
Yep, that's not to say that you can't have singing without lyrics, but what you're saying is true the majority of the time.
Well, vocals are cool?but isn't the process of writing lyrics for sad over-emotional depressives and no one else?
Ehm.. no not at all. Writing lyrics is just another form of finding emotional release in a creative way. It is another form of expression just like guitar is. Now, do you feel like calling guitar players 'sad over-emotional depressives'? Didn't think so?you see, people write lyrics because there are certain things that they have to say, that will only come out right in the form of lyrics. Hell, it's most likely those that don't write lyrics who will become depressed, as they have no way of unleashing the bitterness, anger and confusion they are likely to experience.
So if I were going to write lyrics where would I start?
A. Well you could come up with a topic that you want to write about. Or you could think up a story, and then express how the characters feel. Or you could come up with a few lines and expand upon the thoughts and feelings contained within the lines, so that you can create a complete set of lyrics. Or else you can come up with a technique (though this method is probably for more advanced writers) and then use it throughout the lyrics, (in this method the topic or story isn't as important as how well you express it). Try to write what you know about, as the most powerful lyrics often come from the passionate feelings of an individual. Be wary of writing really dark lyrics all the time however, because even Steve Vai believes that, "you become what you create".
As soon as I start will I be able to write like Dylan, or Morrissey, or Maynard?
Unless you're an absolute genius at imitation then I doubt it. And anyway, the main point of writing lyrics is to get your point across. You want to find your own voice. In other words, "wear your influences on your back, not your face". It is important to have lyrics that you find particularly moving, but that doesn't mean you should continually imitate these lyrics in an attempt to better them. You should find inspiration in everything so that whenever you write, you are drawing on all these other influences so that effectively you are creating a style that is true to you.
What skills are essential for writers, and can they be developed?
Writers have a skill of touching people on an emotional level and often also on a thought provoking level. This skill of affecting people is developed over time and the only definitive method of getting better at it, is to practice. Just like everything else you'll want to do in life?"practice makes perfect". Another tool that is helpful is the skill of observation, which is basically seeing things that others can't see. Finding connections that people never knew were there.
Finding connections? That sounds a bit like using metaphors, right?
A. Basically yes. The fundamental point of using metaphors in writing, is to show people, in a unique and easily accessible way, how you are feeling. But it would be truer to say that connections can be expressed in the form of analogies, (comparisons), such as similes and metaphors. And example of this would be linking emotions with forces of nature, like "storms of anguish", or "waves of pain", or "erupting in anger". Note they're all metaphorical, due to it being more my style. I guess I should show off my versatility: here are some similes, "cold as death", and "vulnerable as a baby".
How can I improve my writing?
Practice is essentially the most basic and obvious way. But another way of getting better is to analyse the lyrics that were written by people better than you. They don't necessarily have to be famous, all you want to do is analyse some really good lyrics.
A. Well now you're getting into more of a preference thing, but I'll give some suggestions. Anything by these artists: Jeff Buckley, Stephen Morrissey, Thom Yorke, Dylan, Thursday, My Chemical Romance et al. Really good on an emotional, and occasionally thought provoking plane.
Is that all?
Well yes, that's all for this lesson. As I've previously said, lyric writing is all about finding your own voice and then showing some integrity and versatility. Flew your lyrical muscles and find out how to write lyrics for all styles of music. Then you'll be an indispensable asset to any band you join. Good luck and good writing.