Did you know that people have been composing songs since before the written word? This month, dear writers, experiment with this timeless art form. Whether you write a song of love, of protest, a song of hope, or a song that tells a story, this is your chance to sing it to the world… and record it if you’d like! We’ll select a winner for best lyrics and best performance.
LET FEELINGS PERCOLATE. “Music is the shorthand of emotion,” wrote Leo Tolstoy. And WtW member Danielle Salt had this to say about the art form: Music is the words left unspoken, the tears never fallen, the thoughts unconscious. The grief never grieved, the loss never found… It’s sunshine on a quiet morning… water on parched ground… the first notes of love… the requiem of hope. The quavering wishes, hidden away. Life burning bright.” Music is emotional
, dear writers. That’s why a song can transport us back to a specific time and place, it can remind us of someone special, and can make sense of something for us when nothing else can. So as you consider what to write about, let your own feelings surface; use them as fuel.
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW. You might think your own experience isn’t interesting—but writing about what you know can give an authenticity to your song that allows listeners to connect with its message.
LESS IS MORE. Songs sit awkwardly between narrative and poetry. It’s easy to get tied up in wanting to say too much. Work out what it is you want to convey—a message, a feeling, a story—and then say it concisely. Usually less is more.
RHYTHM OVER RHYME. Strive for a rhythm that works rather than forcing a rhyming scheme. Rhythm is what reels in a listener, keeping them humming your tune long after the last note.
READ LYRICS ALOUD. Read your draft aloud throughout the writing process and check for flow. Your song should have a regular beat. Music needs to have a pulse! That doesn’t mean you can’t stray now and then but that should be the exception rather than the rule.
SING, STRUM, HUM, WRITE. REPEAT. Because good songs involve much more than just words on paper, take time during the writing process to sing, hum, or strum along to your lyrics. You might find that what seemed like a great refrain actually has clunky timing, or that two consecutive lyrics don’t sound as good when sung. Make changes, and then start humming again.
CUT UP, TAKE OUT AND REARRANGE. Perhaps that perfect first line would work better as a refrain? Or that riff would sound better at the very end? Perhaps the rhyme, though clever, takes away from the meaning you want to convey? Try moving around parts and pieces of your song to see whether a new arrangement improves the the effect you’re going for. And remember, less is more so if in doubt, take it out!
LET A DRAFT MARINATE. Like any writing process, songs can benefit from letting them sit. When you get to a stopping point, feel stuck, or suffer from terrible writer’s block, walk away from your draft! Take a walk, chat up a friend, cook a meal… leave your song behind. You’ll find that after a break, you’ll be able to see your song through fresh eyes.
HOW TO RECORD AND SUBMIT A VIDEO FILE (OPTIONAL). This month, we'll award a prize for the best written song performance, as well as one for the best lyrics. If you’d like to create a video version or audio recording, you may use any platform of your choice—simply copy the link within the text of your submission. Some options to consider:
· You Tube
· Adobe Spark
Please note that these are public platforms and are not affiliated with WtW. As always, practice the usual internet/online safety precautions. Talk to a parent or teacher if you have questions, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who is Eligible?
Young writers ages 13-18
Best Entry: $100 will be awarded for the best lyrics and/or written song performance. (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday July 10th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
July 3: Competition Opens
July 10: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)
July 14: Reviews returned to Writers
June 18: Final Submissions Due
July 28: Winners Announced
Our Flash Fiction Competition opens Monday, August 7th.
Stay tuned for more details!
* Thanks to musician Leo McFadden for his excellent song writing tips!