You’ve got a friend.
You must have one. Your musician buddy, girlfriend, boyfriend, somebody you go to for confirmation or affirmation . Let’s put ‘em to work as your new publisher. The idea is to work on your lyric until you feel it’s the best it can be. You’ve written it as prose first and, if it’s a story type of song , you have a beginning, middle and end. You’ve done all the stuff you know you should…painted a picture with color and detail and you’re “showing not telling”. These are all things I spend tons of time on in my coaching because they’re huge!
Most writers starting out don’t have the luxury of having a publisher to bounce ideas off. A good publisher can be the voice of reason. The one who really can tell you if those pants make your butt look big :-)!!
We all get attached to our ideas but can tend to think what’s in our head is on the page when in fact it’s where we tend to disconnect the quickest . So…what I ask writers to do is to take the lyric to someone they trust, don’ t hype them, don’t even tell them anything other than you’d like them to read the lyric and tell you what it’s about. Simple. You’re not asking for a critique , you’re just hoping they can tell you what the idea is. If they come back to you with a few different ideas, confused about characters, situations or messages then chances are you’ve lost the plot.
A friend can act as your publisher or even better, the average listener. Did they get what you’re trying to say? My favorite example of boiling an idea down came from a book about screenwriting. Producers are notorious for wanting the pitch to be as short as possible. The writers of Alien got a green light by telling the studio it was ” Jaws on a spaceship ” . If your friend can tell you your lyric is about Jaws on a spaceship you’re writing with clarity. Look back to classic songs like ”Strawberry Wine” to see how a lyric can be one persons story but make you think of your own. Written so seamless and clear that you know it’s about one thing ( in this case) losing your innocence .
Not enough for you to know what it’s about…you want everybody to know. You may not have a publisher yet but ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend . Use ‘em!