How To Fight Lyric Writer's Block Using Concepts

You don't want to lay around waiting for inspiration to nip you in the butt, but at the same time you can't seem to get your lyrical ideas onto paper.

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If you're stuck in a rut, or you just don't feel the inspiration flowing through you, you may need to take a step back and start considering your lyrics from a more top down level.

What I mean is, instead of saying "which words do I want to write", take a step back, make it more broad, and then narrow it down later. Don't focus on the words first, but broaden it to say "what things do I want to write about?"

You can broaden further...

  • "Which words do I want to write?"
  • "Which things do I want to write about?"
  • "What intrigues me in life, at this moment, and in general?"
  • "What do I have strong opinions about?"
  • "What interests me...period..."

If you start at the bottom of that list, and work UP, then you have a much better chance of writing lyrics. Lyrics are the last thing you write, after having done a fair amount of preparation.

But what is all that preparation called when you haven't written any lyrics yet, but you have a strong idea of what you want to write about?

That's called...

A Concept

The concept is the idea in your lyrics, that is bigger than your lyrics.

Your concept might be an expression of:

  • An emotion (Sadness, Anger, Frustration, Grief)
  • An element (Fire, Earth, Wind, etc. See the Alchemy Index by Thrice)
  • An event that happened.
  • A social commentary on the way people see things (Try The Incident album by Porcupine Tree), or just satire in general.
  • A fictional world that you've created (in the same way that a novel writer would create their own fictional world).
  • A unified theme which all the lyrics contribute to.
  • And any other idea's or concepts that you can come up with.

It's your interpretation, impression, or opinion on any of the above things.

Once you've created this concept, and worked through the background of it, you can see how it would be much easier to write the lyrics.

Rather than having writers block, where you don't have enough words to write down, you would now have the opposite problem of having too many words to write.

Because you've created the concept, you now can turn on your analytical mind (rather than your creative mind) when writing the lyrics, because you now need to decide which words to not include (rather than deciding which words you want to create).

Examples Of Concepts

The idea of a concept song/album is nothing new at all. Artists have been doing it for years, and some of the most successful and critically acclaimed albums of all time happen to be concept albums.

Here's just a few concept albums that I know of:

Many of these are based on stories, idea's, inventions, ideologies, commentaries on human reactions, actual events, mental health, and a whole lot more.

You can see how diverse, yet useful, a concept can be in helping you write lyrics.

Want To Create A Story Concept?

If you feel that a concept is something that you would like to pursue, I'm starting to cover that on this site. If you'd like, you can start on my "How To Write A Concept Album Series (Part 1)" here.

That series specifically covers creating a story (rather than all the different types of concepts that I've listed above). I may choose to cover more concept-centered lyric writing content in the future, but at this point in time I'm only covering albums based on narrative stories.

So what's the take away about concepts?

Concepts draw people in. They get your visitors emotionally engaged with your message, make it relatable, and also make your writing feel like it has a direction, and a purpose, when you're writing it.

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My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

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