Writing Lyrics: Allusion Exercise

One of the best ways to pull a new technique or concept into your songwriting is do a lyric allusion exercise. For this one, spend the weekend looking for allusions! But don’t worry, it won’t be the whole weekend!

  • STEP 1:  Make sure you’ve always got something to write on or talk into to capture those you find.
  • STEP 2:  Pick five places to visit where you can see and hear things.

You’re looking and listening for things you can use for an allusion reference (e.g., objects, signs, conversations, etc.). Look around and write down anything that reminds you of something else. Anything. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy.

  • STEP 3:  Write down what resonates with you.

Be sure to include what it made you think of and the emotion you felt. For example, if you’re at the zoo and see a red balloon floating across the sky and it reminds you of the French film “Red Balloon” write the image and the reference down. If seeing a red balloon in the sky makes you feel hopeful, note it. How does it usually make others feel? A good thing to find out if the image is a bit obscure.

  • STEP 4:  Now choose one and use it in a song.

You can write a new song or replace some flat imagery in a song you’ve already written.

  • STEP 5:  Are there other songs you have that could use some imagery help?

Circle the lines you have concerns about or feel fall short, and note what you think is lacking in them. Choose one to replace. When you’ve done that, go to the next one.  This is a great way to make your older songs stronger and maybe rewrite song ideas to create better songs.

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