Using Object Writing to Compose Better Lyrics

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When songwriters and lyricists experience writer's block, they can use creative writing exercises to free up their imagination and get their words down on paper. Object writing can help you get your creative juices flowing for a new song.


What Is Object Writing?

Object writing is a type of writing that uses five physical senses to describe objects: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste, as well as two additional senses called organic sense and kinesthetic sense. It's a songwriting technique used by some lyricists, especially when recalling sensory memories.

Pat Pattison, a songwriting professor at Berklee College of Music, pioneered the concept of object writing in his 1995 book Writing Better Lyrics. Pattison encourages his students to come up with new song ideas through sense-bound writing, which describes objects to convey a point of view. You may notice that some established artists use the object writing technique as you analyze some of your favorite song lyrics.


How to Use Object Writing for Creating Lyrics

Describe objects around you through the seven senses to create song lyrics using object writing. These are the senses:

1. Sight: Consider how an object appears and what figurative language you can employ to describe it.

2. Sound: Because music is art through sound, focusing on aural characteristics is a worthwhile songwriting tip.

3. Smell: Smells frequently evoke nostalgia or memories of specific locations. Try describing how objects smell in an object writing exercise.

4. Taste: Taste, like smell, lingers in our memories for a long time. Songwriters who are creative may use language related to taste to figuratively describe the subject of a song.

5. Touch: Texture and temperature descriptions in song lyrics can add tactile depth to your songwriting.

6. Organic sense: Organic sense is a perception of inner bodily functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and muscle tension. These feelings can be either positive, negative, or neutral.

7. Kinesthetic sense: This seventh and final type of sense is a sense of your relationship to the world. It has to do with the body's position and orientation in space.


9 Object Writing Prompts

Describe the following objects using at least two physical senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) and at least one additional sense (organic sense or kinesthetic sense). Give each object ten minutes. You may write in full sentences or in fragments similar to those found in poetry or song lyrics.

1. A cooling loaf of bread

2. A cracked glass windowpane

3. A sealed bank vault

4. A deserted downtown street

5. A car barreling down the highway

6. Waves crashing on the beach

7. A porcelain water fountain

8. A vintage guitar amplifier

9. A single ice cube

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