1 – Make a list of titles. Names that would make you think of someone else’s awesome song that you’d love the hell out of, if you ever actually got to hear them.
2 – Pick a song title from the list that catches your eye, something that feels bigger than the few words it’s made of. This seed has all the information needed to make a rad song. Imagine how this song feels? How it tastes? Is it punchy, aggressive, boisterous, cheeky, deep, brooding, satirical, sombre, stodgy, sprightly, meaningful, blunt, brutal, pretty, political, raunchy, vile, loving, warm, cool, dull, pornographic, exhilarating, charming or alluring? What else is it? Would you enjoy it instantly or is it complex, does it mature over time with multiple consumptions? If it was a pool or lake you wanted to swim in, what colour would the water be? What other animals would live in there? Is there stuff under the water that you can’t see? Maybe it’s not a body of water but a city or the autoban or a lovers body? None of these questions need answering but it will lead you to answer the next question:
3 – What does the power or meaning in this song look like, what’s the hook. It’s probably the chorus and you’ve probably got half of it written down in the title already. Make it a full statement that sounds strong, that you can hear people catching onto. It’s time to sell your point, divide your audience in to those who are with you or those who are against you if you have to, leave the soft touch for the verses. If you sing it with pride they’ll always be with you anyway and you gave them the opportunity to be on your side by drawing the line in the sand. Basic understandable language is best, of the whole song you want your chorus to be universal, versus give you more leeway to play with words. You now have your chorus and a good deal of direction. This is the backbone of your song, you just have to fill in the blanks.
4 – Back up your statement with a half verse. What emotional occurrence lead you to come to the conclusion that the chorus draws. Why should anyone care about your statement? Are we confirming knowledge that people know or is it a new concept? Does it need explaining or do we just need to set the scene for this particular occurrence of the phenomenon we’re describing.
5 – Make it rhyme. It probably already does cause you could hear it in your head before you started working on the words. If you get stuck there is no shame in getting a little help: rhymer.com/. The rhymed words you’ll end up finding will make make writing the words before them pretty easy, you’ll probably come up with some lines you would have never thought of.
6 – The song is no longer about the individual experience that it spawned from, the song has taken it’s own life and form and universal meaning. As it’s own entity, is it complete without your story? Could elements change to strengthen the meaning that this new story tells? If the imaginary holds true meaning it is not a lie, we have transcended from telling a story about what it is to be you to a story of what it is to be.
7 – Check it and discard stuff. The song is now greater than it’s parts, but is it a harmonious experience? There’s usually a part that you fudged for now so you can fix later. That’s perfectly natural and helps get the damn thing written. We’ll now it’s time to fix those clumsy bits. Sing it to your self, what words sounded great on paper but don’t work so well out loud? what’s a mouthful that doesn’t add meaning or structure to the song?
8 – Leave it be for a few days. If it still holds up you have a winner! Congrats! Party time! I mean, hours and hours rehearsing/studio time.
Alternatively you could just replace all the words of a song you already like, hide the results in a draw. Pull them out 6 months later when you’ve long forgotten who you got your cues from. You now have original lyrics, make up the melody and you’re done.