Rewriting Your LyricPosted: August 13, 2013
Amateurs write, professionals rewrite.
That’s an old saying but it’s mostly true. Great songs sometimes pour out in a fit of inspiration and need little or no tweaking afterward. Willie Nelson says he he sees songs floating in the air and just picks them out.
I don’t know, maybe I need glasses, I’ve never seen songs floating around for the taking but most songwriters do have a few works they claim wrote themselves.
In most cases though, that initial inspiration results in a rough draft that needs work. How do you know? If it’s not the best it can be, it needs a rewrite. Some songs are rewritten repeatedly over a period of years before they are deemed “there.”
Look for overused, tired phrases and replace them with something unique. Say the same thing but in a way no one has ever heard it put before.
If you used any “big words” to impress listeners with your brilliance, unless their use is necessary to the song and adds value, drop those words in favor of more common, conversational words. As with simple conversation you’ll impress a lot more people with fresh ideas and cleverness than with multiple syllable words that leave them thinking “He’s (or she’s) trying to sound smart,” instead of leaving them with no doubt you are.
Tighten up. Make your point in each line concisely, nothing wasted.
Don’t report, make people feel something. What feeling are you trying to evoke? Do you want the listener to feel something positive like empathy or love? Or something negative like anger? Is your lyric doing that? Make it happen.
Be open to outside input. I’ll be glad to do a free lyric review on any song you order a demo on, make suggestions and hold off scheduling it until it’s ready to go. Unless it’s a pretty extensive amount of input where I’m actually writing the lines or music instead of just making suggestions, I don’t ask for songwriting credit.
But too many times songwriters say they want constructive criticism then fight most of the suggestions that would bring the lyric up to the quality it needs to be to get a publisher interested- b.e.