Songwriting for the Lyricist – Sheila Pierson


Love music? Love writing? Don’t play an instrument? Does that mean you can’t write a great song? Of course not, but you will face a few extra challenges.

  • First, you need to have a knack for writing lyrics. Many people will say a song is just a poem put to music. This isn’t necessarily so. Lyrics are a bit more ‘conversational’ than poetry. Although there are different forms of songs, most songs contain verses, a chorus and a bridge. Some are verses without a ‘chorus’ at all, while others contain verses and a chorus but no bridge. I’m keeping my description of song forms as simplistic as possible. However, this is no way means these are the only forms. In fact, the number one rule in writing anything, be it lyrics, a short story or a novel is that rules are made to be broken.
  • Second, you need to work with a musician you trust and have a certain ‘chemistry’ with. This can be challenging. There are a number of ways to connect with musicians, especially f you are signed up with one of the many social networking sites available. You can also visit songwriters’ cafes and clubs. I live close to Nashville, TN, where many musicians and songwriters often network at places like the Bluebird Café or Douglas Corner Café, just to name two.
  • Third, keep in mind that it can take years to become a successful songwriter, if you succeed at all. I don’t mean to be less than encouraging, but I am a realist and you should be too if you’re getting into songwriting. The business of writing anything requires hard work, facing lots of rejection and just when you think you’ve got a deal in the works, it can fall through at the last second. Becoming a successful songwriter may be a dream meant only for a few, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. For the wordsmith, it is extremely rewarding to hear your words put to music. I should know since I’ve written a couple of songs with a musician. No, you haven’t heard them on the radio and likely never will, but that doesn’t make it any less rewarding.

There is a great magazine called American Songwriter that offers articles and information about the world of songwriting for those interested. They have a website as well, One really nice thing about this particular magazine is that they offer an amateur lyrics writing contest with every publication.

Finally, if you love it, follow it, chase it, never stop going after your dreams. Write a song or two. Maybe a 13-year-old kid will hear your song and say, “Hey, I want to do that one day.” And the cycle of creativity continues.

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