Stream of Consciousness – Your New Tool To Help You Write Lyrics

Stream of consciousness. Everyone thinks it’s the easiest way to write, and maybe it is. But it also is one of the easiest ways to f*** up. 

Stream of consciousness was popularized by authors like James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Today we have artists like Frank Ocean cranking out these mind-boggling amazing lyrics. How can we tap into this without sounding like an idiot? 

First, let’s determine What “stream of consciousness” is. 

From Soft Schools 

“Stream of Consciousness refers to a style of writing that is organized around the interior flow of thoughts of the narrator. Just as our thoughts flow, unconnected and sometimes disorganized, stream of consciousness writing is often disjointed, and often lacks traditional sentence structure and punctuation.”

You have probably already written a few things that sound disjointed, maybe you’ve even done it accidentally (haha, scrub)! 

James Joyce wrote the book, Ulysses. You’ve probably written a paper from the spark notes for your college 1050 course. In the book, we follow the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, throughout a day in his life. Joyce is trying to duplicate a common thought process in the day. 

Molly Bloom’s closing soliloquy

“…and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

Grammarly just had a conniption with that last paragraph.

It’s poetic, is messy, it’s how we work through things. Doesn’t it feel like you’re pulling back Molly’s face and looking right into her mind? (What a graphic thing to write. My apologies!) 

In music, we can do the same thing! The words convey a feeling through their sounds and the varying meaning between the words and phrases that wouldn’t normally go together.

Pink and White – Frank Ocean

Yeah, yeah oh
Yeah, yeah yeah

That’s the way everyday goes
Every time we have no control
If the sky is pink and white
If the ground is black and yellow
It’s the same way you showed me
Nod my head, don’t close my eyes
Halfway on a slow move
It’s the same way you showed me
If you could fly then you’d feel south
Up north’s getting cold soon
The way it is, we’re on land
So I’m someone to hold true
Keep you cool when it’s still alive
Won’t let you down when it’s all ruin

Just the same way you showed me, showed me
You showed me love
Glory from above
Regard my dear
It’s all downhill from here

In the wake of a hurricane
Dark skin of a summer shade
Nose dive in the flood lines
Tall tower of milk crates
It’s the same way you showed me
Cannonball off the porch side
Older kids trying off the roof
Just the same way you showed me (you showed)
If you could die and come back to life
Up for air from the swimming pool
You’d kneel down to the dry land
Kiss the Earth that birthed you
Gave you tools just to stay alive
And make it out when the sun is ruined

That’s the same way you showed me, showed me
You showed me love
Glory from above
Regard me dear
It’s all downhill from here

Remember life
Remember how it was
Climb trees, Michael Jackson, it all ends here
Say what up to Matthew, to Shoob
Say what up to Danny
Say what up to life immortality
Bending up my Nikes
Running out the melpomene, nicotine
Stealing granny cigs (take it easy)
Gimme something sweet
Bitch I might like immortality
This is life, life immortality

My favorite way this is described is that stream of consciousness is the way that we think every day. I believe this is why it seems so appealing when done well. It’s not as if the person has ADD. Some might even say it… flows like a stream, connecting one thought to the next. 

The words seem like some kind of dream, combining words and thoughts into an overall mood and concept. It’s beautiful when done right. It can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people that way. It’s also excruciatingly easy to f**k up. It’s a fine line from freeform writing and a structure. Keeping true to the idea of an emotion or concept that you are trying to convey.

How can you get better at this?

  1. Read and copy down word for word great artists like Joyce, Wolf. Read and copy Samuel Beckett and William Faulkner. Pick and page and just start copying what they’ve written. Learn from the masters! Being able to tap into this style of lyrics opens a vast new world for us! 
  2. Write a song using a stream of consciousness technique. Don’t overthink it, just pay attention to your thought process and write, write, write. Don’t think in term of good and bad here. We’re just doing an exercise! Can’t think of anything to write about? How about one of these topics!
  • How would I feel if I found out my best friend from childhood died?
  • How would life change you could actually see love?
  • Write about the deepest form of loyalty you’ve ever felt and how that has shaped you to become who you are today.

If you learn one thing today, know that you don’t have to use a specific word to convey what you’re trying to say. Sometimes words just get in the way. Try letting your mind bend meaning to find something you’ve been trying to elucidate.

List in the comments some of your favorite lyricists! I am always looking for something new to obsess over! Thank you for reading, and please like, share, and subscribe to the blog! Every little comment helps with the algorithm! If you haven’t had a chance to read this posts. Give them a quick read!


Published by crazylegsdean

Self defined as: taste taster for the aspiring musician on the go.

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