As musicians, we’re all familiar with the concept of practicing to improve. Too few of us, however, practice enough when it comes to songwriting. If we did, we probably wouldn’t suffer from writer’s block as much as we often do. But practicing songwriting skills on a daily basis is vital if we want to improve our craft. To improve your lyric-writing skills, try this rewording exercise.
Choose a lyrical phrase from one of your songs as an example to work with. It doesn’t need to be a phrase you’re unhappy with, since this is just an exercise to stimulate your lyrical imagination. Now, think of as many different ways of saying the same thing as you can.
Think also of phrases that mean almost the same thing, a sort of “partner line” that might appear in the song in some other verse or segment of the song.
Since the point of this exercise is to come up with something that might serve as a song lyric, try to keep your words natural and easy, and don’t obsess over creating poetry.
Here’s an example:
“I want to have you in my life..”
“I need you by my side;” “Be with me forever” “Hold my hand” “I need your love to guide me”
The purpose of this exercise is to open up your mind and find new and interesting ways to say the same thing. I’ve only listed four rewordings in my list above, but you should try for a dozen or more.
If you find that you’re stuck with a lyric that doesn’t seem to be working, this exercise might be the ticket to opening the floodgates and get you writing something that finally works.
It’s also a great way of avoiding the trap of using the same way to verbalize an emotion that you might tend to use for every song. You’ll find that incorporating this as a daily exercise will help keep the creation of lyrics fresh and imaginative.