Lyric Tips for when you run out of ideas

Are you a lyric lover? Do you know the words to all your favorite songs by heart? Do you somehow magically remember song lyrics from 10 years ago, while memorizing a new Spanish word seems impossible? Well, we might become friends! I am a hardcore lyric enthusiast and there´s only one thing I love more than learning new lyrics and that is: writing some!

Songwriting is a magical craft. We distill ideas and experiences into emotional stories with multiple layers. Lyrics and melodies are like Bonnie and Clyde. A winning team! A lot of times we are either slightly better in the lyric writing domain or in the music-composition domain. I view myself predominantly as a lyricist. Yet, even the best lyricist will sometimes find themselves sitting before a blank page and feeling uninspired. After all, us homo sapiens having been around fore more than 300.000 years , it has all been said and done in one way or another.

The key to finding ways to express universal things in unique and novel ways lies in divergent thinking. So, today I want to share a trick that will allow you to pull up innovative imagery and sparking new ideas in no time. This comes in handy if you find yourself in the midst of a creative block!

I call it “non-associative wording method”.

How does it work?

Think about a topic you might want to write about. Let´s pick something like “love” or “death” or “friendship”. Something that is truly universal. How about we pick “friendship”, now that we found out we are all lyric friends?

Now, what are some associations that might come up when thinking of the word “friendship”? Write them down in a list. Mine would be:

– confiding in

– family

– love

– appreciation

– being yourself

– sharing interests

– fun

– spending time

– reliable

– people we trust

– loyalty

– honesty

– caring

– a shoulder to cry on

– side by side

– hand in hand



Now, all these associations seem rather intuitive and I´m sure a lot of people would come up with similar ideas. So let´s narrow things down a bit.

Pick three of the words/wordings on the list that resonate the most and start over.

Mine would be:

– Confiding in

– being yourself

– loyalty


So, my associations for “confiding in” would be:

– trust

– keep a secret

– don´t tell

– keep it safe

– promise me

– relying on someone

– confidential

– things I am ashamed of

– things that burden me

– things noone must know


For “being yourself” my words would be

– being somebody else

– stop pretending

– no more hiding

– no more masking

– feeling naked

– being authentic

– being honest

– speak your truth

– standing firm

– play it safe


And my words for “hand in hand” would be:

– brother and sister

– walking

– face to face

– forever

– together we are strong

– less alone

– standing with each other

– side by side

Last not least

Now, mark the words your like the most and start forming sentences that involve those words.  This could result in a verse like this:

Can you keep a secret?

May I speak my truth?

Face to face we´re standing

and I know you see right through me.


The things that I´m ashamed of,

no longer wanna hide

I hope after I tell you,

you´ll keep standing by my side.


And then you could go back to the initial list and grab words for a potential chorus:

They say that friends are family

That we´ll walk hand in hand

There´s something I must tell you

I ´ll no longer play it safe

I´v never felt bout anyone the way I feel about you!

We said we´re friends forever

but I fell in love with you!


There you go. The friendship song turned into a love song. We had had no direction in the beginning, but allowing for something to create itself is a powerful lesson.

I have to say though, that this is merely an excersice, that should help you develop more divergent thinking in general. The goal is not to construct lyrics like this, without any direction whatsoever. Usually you will have a core message that you want to transport.

However, learning to expand your vision beyond the obvious associations is a skill that can be learned and that helps you become more original and creative in the way you write.

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