Note: this content was originally featured in the 7 Day Songwriting Challenge – a course created by Jamey Cummins and Alex Ballentine at Eastside Music School. We’ve made it free with the hopes that curious songwriters might learn something new. If you find this post useful and would like to learn more, please consider enrolling in lessons at Eastside Music School. we offer in person lessons in Austin, TX and virtual lessons worldwide.

Lyrics are often the hardest part of writing a song. It’s certainly the most personal aspect or songwriting. In this video, Jamey Cummins explains how to streamline your lyric writing process. You’ll learn to focus your lyric ideas by asking yourself three questions: 1. What is your song about? 2. Who is singing and to whom are they singing? 3. What is the overall emotional impact you want your song to have?


1. What is Your Song About?

Your song can be about anything: a truck, a tree, or a loved one. Sometimes the lyrics don’t seem to be about any one topic in particular but the imagery is so strong that the song stands on its own.


2. Who is Singing and to Whom are they Singing?

Is this a song from your perspective to a loved one? Or is it from you to a wider audience. For example, John Lennon seems to be singing to the whole world in All You Need is Love. Or, is it a third person narrative about a character that you’re looking at from the outside.


3. What is the Overall Emotional Impact of Your Song?

Is this a sad song? An upbeat song with a positive message? Is it a funny song with a comical twist? Or simply a nostalgic tune? Whatever it is, know the feeling you want to communicate and it’s going to guide you along the process.


Lyric Rhythms

One technique for writing is to let the melodic rhythm dictate your lyrics. In each of the following examples a different rhythmic “subdivision” yields unique results.


Eighth Notes

Quarter Notes

Half Notes

Whole Notes



Of course, the ultimate goal should be a combination of various rhythmic variations for the most interesting results:




Today’s challenge is to write your lyrics. Remember to answer those three questions: What is your song about? Who is singing and to whom? And finally what is the overall emotional impact you want your song to have. Lyrics can be tricky, so try not to second guess yourself. Let them happen naturally without overthinking and you’ll likely come up with the quickest and easiest results. Let’s get those lyrics down!