Finding What To Write About For Lyrics

Basically a list of thought provoking ideas that would help people discover lyric topics.

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Well, I've seen a lot of columns on how to write lyrics, but not too many on what to write for lyrics. This is also something that might help with writer's block. Sometimes nothing helps better to get rid of writer's block than a list of things to write about, even if you like only one of the ideas. Here's a list of things to write about.
  • Things you care about: Write about the things/people/places/ideas or whatever is dear to you. For example, maybe your love in life (not necesarily a person, but also an activity, a place, a hobby, anything.)
  • I don't give a darn when/because/about, etc.: If you can't think of something you care about, you can always write about something you don't care about. Something you don't like. Like a person you don't like, an activity you just don't get or care for, anything you don't enjoy. However, be careful that you draw the line between venting and complaining. To an extent, we don't want to hear it.
  • Metaphors about life: Compare something to something. This is especially fun for the more experienced writers. Know anything that is similar to something in a strange way? Explain it. Here's one of my metaphors. ex)Emotion is fire.
  • Go take a risk: Know anyone that has great potential but won't step out of their comfort zone, whether it be yourself, a friend, family member? Tell em to get out there!
  • Wonderment about a concept: Everyone wonders about something. Here are some fundamental questions that bring up good song topics. Where will I go after I die? Where am I from? What is love? What's my/our purpose? Why do we suffer? How could they do that to me? Stuff like that.
  • A certain longing: I know you want something. Saving up money for something? Any guy or girl in mind? Something you want to do? Want someone or something to be a certain way?
  • Take me as I am: It's the title of a good Dream Theater song as well as a good writing topic. I believe one of the individual humans greatest desires is to be totally understood. Wouldn't be surprised if you want to be understood as well. Think life would be so much better if people understood you? Write about it.
  • Come as you are: It's a Nirvana song as well as a good lyric topic. This is kind of the reverse of the previous topic. You want to be understood, you want to understand others. Essentially the topic's saying: Be yourself so I can understand you.
  • Now or never moment: There are times in life where you meet decisions that change you drastically for better or for worse. If you have an experience like that, write it down.
  • A turning point in life: I don't know if you are old enough to have a "turning point", but one thing to write about is something that changed your life, a change of heart, touched your heart for good. Either that or a point where you've started to go downhill, or slack.
  • Unity in something: Are you a part of a group that believes the same thing as you, or does the same things as you? Talk about that. (By the way, it doesn't have to be a formal institution. It can be a highschool stereotype, your circle of friends, the people you associate with, the people you hang out with.)
  • Your idea of fun: What do you like to do for fun? Hobbies? What brings you joy in life? What are your skills? What's your pride and joy? Tell us (as in the audience you're going to perform for).
  • On top of the world: I know, it's the third time, but it's a Van Halen song as well as a topic. Any particularly joyful moments? Feel like you're on top of the world, like nothing is in your way? For example, from the movie "The Mask", "Somebody stop me!! Woohoo!!!" Yeah, that feeling. Pure euphoria.
  • Go away (insert whatever noun you like): Want someone/something to just "be gone" because you hate them so much? Wanna threaten someone, "Stay away from me or I'll rip your head off like Ozzy did" Yeah... good for metal songs.
  • How long ______?: Patience is a virtue. In the meantime, let's write a song about the wait. Are you waiting for something big to happen? Impatient? Really missing someone? Write about it while you're waiting.
  • Hold on to: What do you hold on to? A person? A standard? What do you go by when times are hard? What's something to console you when bad things happen? Tell us.
  • Concept album??: If you've written anything else other than songs, this is a cool thing to try. Make a series of songs from a poem or story. It's also a good way to make quality songs quickly. I'm working on a concept album right now using a novela I wrote. It's so efficient that I can make a song out of each paragraph or two. (I'll be able to make a couple albums' worth if I'm lucky.) Also has a cool sound to it, all the songs in an album making a story. If you're curious, check out Coheed and Cambria.
  • Writer's block: Even after this, if you cant think of anything, you can write about how you can't think of anything to write. Just make sure that you make it sound poetic, and give it some thought. Otherwise it will sound stupid.
  • In memory of...: Here's a good one. Are you missing someone or something that died? Remember, it can be about anything going away. It can be a dead person, dead genre, dead civilization, anything. Here's a unique example. I forget what the song is really called, but "California Rest in Peace" - Red Hot Chili Peppers. Good example of mourning something other than a person. Just be careful with your word choices. Because the writing quality can make the difference between Helena - My Chemical Romance and You Raise Me Up - Josh Groban. No, I'm not bashing My Chemical Romance. I'm just comparing lyrical quality. And to you picky UGers, I picked Josh Groban to show the contrast of the lyrical quality and word choices. Hope this helps! I found this thought provoking.
  • 88 comments sorted by best / new / date

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      freemind12
      cool idea i think this was a great article. I generally dont have writers block, but, now i should be sorted for song ideas for at least the next few years...
      PjX71
      HelpMeImHungry wrote: concept album-> pink floyd , not coheed
      Both really. Coheed goes a lot further into concept writing than Pink Floyd though.
      Glen'sHeroicAct
      i think this article was too easy for you to write.... all you did was give basic concepts to write about.. i mean who has actually written a good song about how they have writer's block??? elaboration needed, as well as sex change, because everyone knows women cannot write good songs because they are all about lashing out or breakups...
      Geekis_Khan
      Sorry, forgot to add my commment to that quote ^ Meant to say: After I started writing lyrics instead of poetry, I got a lot better at writing.
      Geekis_Khan
      Good article, I gave it a 9. But I think it's probably more helpful to beggining lyricists than it is to those with writer's block.
      rockergurl09 wrote: yes I have. Problem is I'm still making the poet-lyricist transition.
      Vos
      deepsigh wrote: "Emotion is fire" is an example of simile not metaphor, douche.
      A simile is with "like" or "as". I think that was covered in 3rd grade English... Anyways, good article. Gave me alot of ideas.
      Stratocaster93
      THANK YOU!!! I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR AN ARTICLE LIKE THIS FOR AGES!!! THANK YOU!!! Sorry for the outburst, writers block is painfull...
      TyphoidSpider
      Hooray for concept albums, id love to hear the lyrics for yours. Im pretty sure Nymbb's comments were entirely toungue-in-cheek, and only used as bait. And you bit, which I don't find unreasonable seeing as your a minority on UG. Thanks for the ideas man!!
      rap_Fn_sux
      what about rockergurl what kind of poser bimbo are you?? just kiddin' good article by the way, cuz im having some serious writers block and i hope this'll help
      rockergurl09
      killthelights17 wrote: This really just seems like something most people should figure out on their own...if they can't, I don't think they should be bothering to write lyrics. I just think that an idea for writing should come naturally, instead of having to consult a list of possible topics. It's decently written, though, and it will probably be a big help for some people. Kudos to you, and I'm glad to know there's an ok girl on the forum other than me. Please stop the barrage of posers -cough-Hotpunksk8erthing- cough-.
      agreed. hotpunksk8 girl, whatever her real username is, is such a dumb blonde. Poser too. I mean, what kind of punk calls themselves hotpunksk8 girl online?!? none of the true ones.
      rockergurl09
      Kroach wrote: I do feel my chemical romance is a step above simple plan please... anyway funny how everyone says thanks man The author of the article is rockerGURL09 Anyway nice article, I would add always write down your ideas... by the way have you (rockerGURL) posted any of your lyrics on UG?
      yes I have. Problem is I'm still making the poet-lyricist transition.
      rockergurl09
      Nybb wrote: It goes to show that people in douche houses shouldn't throw douches LOL Yes, the author was right about the metaphor. The guy who first commented about it being wrong was retarded. I always remembered the difference between metaphor and simile like this: "simile" is close to "similar" and therefore uses "like" or "as" to compare. Metaphors are just saying that something is something else. I was going to say that the article was subpar, but then I saw it was written by a girl. I hear it's hard to type whilst cooking and sewing, so I shall rate less harshly.
      excuse me?!? rate me as harsh as you like! a writer is a writer whether it's a girl or a guy. This is one of the most sexist comments I've ever seen!! I stink at multi tasking, so I actually fully focused on writing this column. If I were multi-tasking, it wouldn't be nearly as good. Though I am a good cook and I occaisionally make my own clothes, my primary skill is guitar, writing, and art. Why the heck am I here anyway?!? It's UG, not cooking sewing and guitar.com. Go ahead. Call my first column here subpar. I don't care. Just don't be a sexist dumbutt!!
      drshock
      I agree with kill the lights, i never recieved advce on lyrics writing, its something that u must study yourself and practice.
      killthelights17
      This really just seems like something most people should figure out on their own...if they can't, I don't think they should be bothering to write lyrics. I just think that an idea for writing should come naturally, instead of having to consult a list of possible topics. It's decently written, though, and it will probably be a big help for some people. Kudos to you, and I'm glad to know there's an ok girl on the forum other than me. Please stop the barrage of posers -cough-Hotpunksk8erthing- cough-.
      rockergurl09
      Glen'sHeroicAct wrote: i think this article was too easy for you to write.... all you did was give basic concepts to write about.. i mean who has actually written a good song about how they have writer's block??? elaboration needed, as well as sex change, because everyone knows women cannot write good songs because they are all about lashing out or breakups...
      Shmae I won't be able to give you a good talking to about songwriting. It would be best if I could tell you in person for effect. So I could snap your neck in half... No this article wasn't easy to write. They weren't just basic concepts. Notice I didn't mention the love topic. Most basic song topic in the world, but I didn't mention it. And all people need to get song ideas is a list of well described topics. They may be simple, but they can be well expanded on and work very well. Everyone who bothers to find out knows that female writers can be good writers. And "all they are about is lashing out and breakups"? BY NO MEANS!! Those are the extremely dependent guy-obsessed girls. Not me. I don't have a guy to lash out at or break up with anyway. So that makes me nothing? NO!!! I'm about living. About music, writing, art, and can write about anything as well as anyone, male or female. You'd think twice if I showed you the stuff I've written. Not that you're worthy, you ignorant sexist.
      HurricaneSG
      deepsigh wrote: "Emotion is fire" is an example of simile not metaphor, douche.
      haha so true.. good article
      led_zep_00
      deepsigh : "Emotion is fire" is an example of simile not metaphor, douche. Dumb shit
      JesusOfSbrbia
      Great article. Lots of help. I am not a good lyricist, so I'll take anything that will help me with inspiration.
      xDoMyGuitarNoWx
      deepsigh wrote: "Emotion is fire" is an example of simile not metaphor, douche.
      metaphor idiot! simile = like or as.. saying emotion is.. is metaphor. go back to school.
      rockergurl09
      thanks for telling. No subject is cliche if you write it well. And I didn't only talk about depression or breakups. Did I even write about that? I don't think so! *the ORLY owl pecks you on the head* can you read, or did you forget your dyslexia medication?
      keith Poulos
      honestly, mostt people today have nothing to offer but sadness and self apreciation that helps no one but themselves. if ur going to write lyrics, write something that will change a person's outlook or view point, or something useful. don't write about how depressed you are, or how your girlfriend broke up with you. no one cares, and its way too cliche'ed. make a difference
      Spongerob47
      Also, historic events. Iron Maiden has SEVERAL.Lot's are used to convey thoughts on stuff in the present day.
      becbec11_77
      i luv this collumn! i wrote the music to what could be a song and i hav spent a whole year trying to write words to it and it was sooo hard but now i got sumthing to go off! i almost gave up trying to write sumthing - i actually forgot the music and had to try to remember it wich i did in the end! i hate writers block
      The_Raven
      Good article, I dont get writers block but if I ever do I hope ill remember this!
      rockergurl09
      Geekis_Khan wrote: Sorry, forgot to add my commment to that quote ^ Meant to say: After I started writing lyrics instead of poetry, I got a lot better at writing.
      agreed
      rockergurl09
      recklessftw wrote: Good article, it's a great place to start for any songwriter. People here seem to think it's common sense but it's amazing how these things slip minds when they are writing. You touched on good points and valid ones at that, not sure what other's think could be done better... And don't listen to some of the losers on this post, listen to me. They're just mad because their mom stopped doing their laundry.
      lol, thanx. can't believe my 1st column did this well...
      recklessftw
      Good article, it's a great place to start for any songwriter. People here seem to think it's common sense but it's amazing how these things slip minds when they are writing. You touched on good points and valid ones at that, not sure what other's think could be done better... And don't listen to some of the losers on this post, listen to me. They're just mad because their mom stopped doing their laundry.
      nbmetalmaster
      Glen'sHeroicAct wrote: i think this article was too easy for you to write.... all you did was give basic concepts to write about.. i mean who has actually written a good song about how they have writer's block??? elaboration needed, as well as sex change, because everyone knows women cannot write good songs because they are all about lashing out or breakups... What is wrong with you. I may be a guy but you know what? you're an ass. I know plenty of girls that can write better then you even if you paid the best lyricist in the world to help you. Girls are'nt all about breakups and lashing out. Think about it what do guys write about LASHING OUT. It's a good thing this was'nt my colemn because I would'nt be so nice to just break your neck I break every bone in your body so you could feel it for the rest of your ***** life. By the way rockergurl09 best colemn I've read to date and I'm a very experienced guitar singer/songwriter I hope to see more awesome articles. THANX!
      Kroach
      I do feel my chemical romance is a step above simple plan please... anyway funny how everyone says thanks man The author of the article is rockerGURL09 Anyway nice article, I would add always write down your ideas... by the way have you (rockerGURL) posted any of your lyrics on UG?
      yawn
      I congratulate you on, not only a great, but also a suprisingly original article
      jcwear
      This is a great article I'm E-Mailing it to my lyricist in our band right away!!