If you have been a regular reader of our blog, you would have come across several articles about how you can become a better songwriter. If you have found those posts helpful, you will absolutely enjoy this one.
30-day lyric writing challenges abound on the internet. No doubt, some are worth the read while others might simply waste your time. Whatever the case, the success of any such challenge depends on your ability to stay committed to a routine for one month.
30 days might seem long but it is really not, considering that you want your career to last for decades. Besides, if you have a passion for music and songwriting, you will see the value in making the sacrifice. In addition, doing anything consistently for 30 days is bound to become a habit. The more you develop good songwriting habits, the better you will become at it and writer’s block will become less of a problem.
Still, staying disciplined can be difficult, especially when family time, work time, and everyday struggles are factored in. That’s why this 30-day challenge is designed to be different. This is not about trying to write 30 songs in 30 days. If you can produce one song per day, that’s great. But this challenge is to get you in the habit of writing EVERY day. Whether that results in 10 songs or 30 songs for the 30 day period is entirely up to you. Required before starting: Decide on a time of day. lasting for at least one hour, which you can set aside every day. This can be early in the morning before anyone else is up, late at night after everyone has gone to bed, or during the day when the kids are at school (if you happen to be a parent). Whatever works for you…just ensure it’s a time period when you won’t be disturbed.
Once you have set aside the time and assembked materials such as a pen, notebook, voice recorder, and anyinstrument you might use when writing songs, you are ready to begin the 30-day lyrics writing challenge. Day 1
Take a speed lyric writing test. Write as many lyrics as possible about a particular topic during the allotted time. Focus on quantity rather than quality of lyrics. Day 2
From the lyrics you wrote the day before, edit the content to come up with at least one structured song (verse – chorus – verse – chorus).
Write a story or random phrases that come to mind and then use the cut-up technique to come up with some song lyrics. The cut-up method, made famous by David Bowie and others, includes cutting up words from sentences and phrases and then rearranging them to come up with unique lyrics. Day 4
Pick a character from your life who has had a major impact on your development. Write a song about him or her, whether about their struggles, success story, relationships, etc. Day 5
Pick one or more songs from your playlist and re-write all the lyrics. Day 6
Write lyrics relating to a movie that you have watched, whether about the protagonist, the villain, a standout supporting actor, or the plot. Day 7
Take the first line of your favorite song. Replace the verbs and nouns. Discard the original line and write entirely new lyrics to support the new line you created. Example: “Look at this photograph,” the first line from “Photograph” by Nickelback, could be turned into “Staring at this clock on the wall.” Day 8
Write lyrics about a secret crush you had in high school that you haven’t seen in years and often wonder what would have happened if you had expressed your feelings. Day 9
Think about your first real kiss. Write lyrics describing how it made you feel. Day 10
Assess your progress. Take the time to polish off the lyrics of any song you have managed to complete or try to finish ones that you have started but have failed to complete. Day 11
Think of the last news story you read, watched, or listened. Write some lyrics about how it impacted you, negatively or positively, on an emotional level. Day 12
Write lyrics about a place you have visited where you had a really great time. Day 13
Write lyrics about a place you want to visit. Think about its attractions, people, history, etc. and how being there will make you feel. Day 14
Call ahead to find out what kind of day a friend, family member, or co-worker might be having. Write lyrics relating to how they described it and any wish they might have for changing the circumstances. Day 15
Think of a bad dream you had that has remained stuck in your mind. Write lyrics surrounding the events and/or what you think it all means. Day 16
If you write poems, pick one of your favorites and turn it into a song. If you don’t have poems of your own, pick one you have heard or learned in school that you actually like. Day 17
Use lyrics to describe your ideal romantic partner/soulmate. Day 18
If you happen to keep a diary, pick an entry of an eventful day and turn it into song lyrics. Don’t have a diary? Look up public diaries such as The Open Diaries or My-Diary.org to find entries from other people that you can write about. Day 19
Think of your greatest fear. Imagine that you finally confront it. Write lyrics about how you imagine the events unfolding in your mind. Take care to write your lyrics in a tactful way if you don’t want anyone knowing the lyrics are about you. Day 20
Assess your progress. Take the time to polish off the lyrics of any song you have managed to complete or try to finish ones that you have started but have failed to complete. Day 21
Think of the last party, music festival, or concert you went to where you had a good time. Write lyrics about your experience. Day 22
Replay events of a natural disaster you heard of, watched on the news, or that you have experienced. Create song lyrics about what happened. Day 23
Pick any cause that is of great importance to you (stray animals, lack of access to clean drinking water, refugees trying to escape war, etc.). Write a song from a humanitarian perspective about the people that are affected and things that can be done/changed to improve the situation. Day 24
Take a song or poem (either written by you or someone else) and run it through a translator for a different language. Translate the result from the new language back to the old language (for example, English to French then from French back to English). Do this a few times until the result is vastly different in meaning from the original creation. Turn it into new song lyrics. Day 25
Use your favorite thing to say, whether word, phrase, or slang, and make it the title of a song. Write corresponding song lyrics. Day 26
Think of your most embarrassing moment or one that is fresh on your mind. Write song lyrics about. Take care to be tactful (write in the 2nd or 3rd person) if you don’t want it to be apparent the lyrics are about you. Day 27
Write song lyrics about a personal experience where you think someone did you wrong but has never apologized. Like other personal things you might write about on this list, be tactful if you don’t want it to be clear the lyrics are about you. Day 28
Think of a perfect day. Write song lyrics describing it (weather, environment, activities, people, etc.). Day 29
Describe your idea of a Utopian world using song lyrics. Day 30
Assess, polish and/or complete any unfinished song lyrics.
Now that you are at the end of your 30-day challenge and you have some material under your belt (as well as a writing habit going), it’s time to take things up a notch. Pick your best song lyrics to turn into demos and full recordings. Also, try to keep up with the habit of writing song lyrics daily. Heck, you can even repeat the challenges on the list.