sensory writing

Transport your audience by using sense bound language.


Your lyrics aren’t believable. You can’t bring the listener into the experience. You feel you are telling the listener what to feel rather than helping them to feel it. 


This is one of the most powerful methods in the songwriters use. It generates language that prompts feelings in the audience. It can transport you to a place and time or convey emotion. To do this we need to show not tell.

  1. Find something to write with. Many people find paper and pen best for this exercise as it doesn’t impeded the flow of ideas. But you can use a phone or word processor if you prefer.
  2. Select a concrete object or a location to write about, this can be anything you have had direct experience of. E.g. an apple, Kings Cross Station London
  3. Set a timer for 25 minutes
  4. Consider the following seven senses sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste, body and movement. Body sense refers to your perception of internal bodily processes e.g. heartbeat, sweat, pulse, tension, breathing, twitching muscle etc. Movement refers to your perception of movement such as a train rocking side to side or dizziness
  5. Write out all of the sensory perceptions you can about the place or object. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar, don’t worry about complete sentences  
  6. Don’t edit yourself, put every thought down no matter how silly
  7. Resist the temptation to write lyrics. If rhymes or Lyric like lines emerge that’s fine but don’t try to create verses
  8. Write for the full 25 minutes nonstop
  9. Review the thoughts you have written down
  10. Try to place these sense bound words into your lyric. You may find that a natural pattern emerges where you alternate between describing things that happen externally and then what you feel about them

Now what?

Once you have a key message and you have sensory language you may wish to layout your song


A version of sensory writing called object writing was popularised by Pat Pattison in his brilliant book writing better lyrics.


how find song ideas

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