songwriting inspiration

8 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration for Songwriting

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Are you facing writer’s block and need a boost of creative inspiration to write your songs? Here are 8 daily habits and prompts to get songwriting ideas into your head and onto paper.

#1: Start reading books.

Books can be a huge source of creative inspiration, both fiction and non-fiction. Exposing yourself to different writing styles in fiction can give you new perspectives on how to frame a story in your songs.

For example, reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road might inspire you to start documenting your own daily life in written form – no matter how mundane the details might seem to you.

You can also read educational books about songwriting, like Songwriters on Songwriting.  It includes a huge collection of interviews with notable songwriters, where they speak about their writing processes, challenges and advice they have.

It’s impossible to walk away after reading this book without some new ideas to help you with your own craft. 

Non-fiction books that aren’t even directly related to songwriting or music can be massively helpful to you as well. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield was so influential to me in helping me overcome the obstacles that you face with creative work.

Reading Deep Work by Cal Newport will help you structure your days so that you can get your important writing work done in a way that works best for you. 

#2: Start going for walks outside, alone and without any music or podcasts.

I recently read an amazing book from Cal Newport called Digital Minimalism.

He talks about this concept called “solitude deprivation”, where most of us barely have any time alone anymore with our own thoughts.

Even if we’re technically alone, we still normally have ear phones in listening to music or podcasts.

Have you ever noticed that your smartest and most creative ideas come at a time where your mind is free to roam? Like in the shower or when you’re bored waiting in line at a shop?

It’s because you’re actually giving your mind space to roam and be creative. It’s impossible to reach this state if you always have someone else’s input being given to you at all times.

Take some time out of your day to truly be alone and let your mind wander. I personally find the best way to do this is to just take a walk alone with no devices on me. 

#3. Carry a notebook around with you at all times.

My partner is a songwriter and he carries around one of these tiny unlined notebooks around with him wherever he goes. They’re not fancy at all, but they’re the perfect size to keep with you on the go.

#4. Start reading writing prompts.

Writing prompts are great because they’re saving you all the work of coming up with a storyline in the first place.

Most people use writing prompts to write short stories, but there’s no reason why you can’t use them for songwriting too. They give you inspiration and structure, and some of them can be incredibly unique too, which will make for a unique song. 

You can find writing prompts on Reddit at the subreddit /r/writingprompts or you can even buy a book like this one, with tons of writing prompts inside, either fictional or personal to you.

#5. Write a letter to a person about a situation.

This idea is inspired by one of my favourite songs – Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat.

Writing about a situation as a song can be pretty difficult, but first writing about the situation as a letter can help you overcome any kind of writer’s block you’re feeling.

Address your letter to a real life person and write as you would if you were genuinely going to give it to them. Don’t worry about any kind of lyrical genius or rhyme in the letter. You can go back to the letter after it’s finished and polish it up to work better as a song, but at least now you have the bulk of what you want to say down on paper.

#6. Put one word song prompts on pieces of paper and put it in a jar to pick out.

This could be the name of someone you know that has an interesting story you can share, or maybe the name of a location that has a meaning to you. Next time you need to sit down to write, randomly pick a piece of paper out of the jar, and there’s your creative writing prompt for the day!

#7. Record your dreams every morning after you wake up, or in the middle of the night if you wake up after a crazy dream.

Dreams can be a huge source of creative inspiration. It’s crazy what your mind can come up with while you’re sleeping.

They fade from your memory so quickly though, so as soon as you wake up from a dream, make a voice note or write out a note about what happened in the dream. It could make for a really good song!

#8. Listen to podcasts.

There are so many great podcasts out there for musicians, and some are dedicated completely to songwriting.

There’s a podcast called “And the writer is…”, hosted by Ross Golan. Every week he interviews an acclaimed songwriter to talk about songwriting and their career in general. It’s a fantastic resource to help you build your songwriting habits and get ideas from other successful songwriters!

Do you have any creative techniques to spark songwriting inspiration? Share them in the comments below!

Want more recommendations for DIY musicians & bands? I send out Tunes Letter every Sunday with a curated list of tips that DIY musicians & bands need to know.

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