1) Just Start.
Sometimes sitting down and starting a song can be the biggest challenge. Try starting with a simple instrumental. This might be some chords, a beat, something you wrote, just keep it simple. Some of the best songs in history were made up from only four chords. I mean, we've all seen that Axis Of Awesome - Four Chord Songs Youtube video right?
2) Stream Of Consciousness.
Get hold of a recording device such as a phone, laptop, microphone or dictaphone. Whilst listening to your instrumental track, hum through the entire song from start to finish. Make up a vocal melody as you go, remember there is no wrong or right at this stage.
3) No Limits.
Don't be afraid to experiment with melody and rhythm, especially if your ideas start to get repetitive. Take the song higher, lower, or jump between notes. The more ideas you have to work with, the better.
4) Finding Inspiration.
Once you've hummed through the song once, do so again using the same melodies from your previous recordings if you can, but this time focus on verbalising some words, any words, in any order and record it. Sometimes it helps to think of a topic: A place, a person, an emotion an experience.
5) Stand Out Quality.
Listen back to your recordings and pick out your favourite ideas. Write down the best or most stand out words. This will act as your starting point. If you find yourself with several ideas and you're not sure which to choose, could you have more than one song on your hands!? Ask a trustworthy friend or musical colleague which ideas are their favourite.
6) Refine Your Ideas.
Once you've decided on your favourite stand out words or sentences, begin to think of a song topic that might relate to them. Do the words invoke anger? Sadness, happiness, tiredness, energy, love, ambition, hate, revenge? Is it about a relationship, a breakup, about being brave or lonely. Once you have your topic, you will find it easier to pin point what you have to say about it.
7) Go With Your Instincts.
Always follow your gut reaction. If it sounds bad, it probably is. You might find yourself co-writing with other people when this happens. It's better to be upfront than to continue investing time and money into a project that you don't 100% support. At the same time, anything that you find gets stuck in your head, is probably there for a reason. Catchy is good! If you can get your songs stuck in your audience's head, well that's just free advertising!
8) Don't Be Boring.
"Don't bore us, Get to the chorus". Songs with epic long verses can begin to lose your audience's interest. They key to holding their attention is with meaningful yet conscice story telling. Try not to alienate your audience by making your lyrics too ambiguous or overly specific, keep it all relatable. And remember, less is more! Typically, songs with simpler lyrics are easier to remember.
9) Keep It Flowing.
Think of your chorus as the main message that you want to convey to your audience (e.g. Being in love). Ask yourself, do your verses relate to the chorus? Does it actually make sense? Sometimes reading the lyrics out as though it were a story can help you decide if flows.
10) Dynamic Development.
As the song develops, so should your top-line. Create dynamics by adding in vocal harmonies, slight changes in the melody and vocal improvisation (otherwise known as Ad Libs) as you go.
Happy Top-line Writing!