Compliments of Cliff Goldmacher
Songwriting – like any art – requires at least a certain amount of inspiration. However, the more you write the more often inspiration isn’t as available as you’d like it to be. Occasionally, inspiration can appear to run completely dry. When you find yourself heading toward or already in that situation, there are multiple ways to bring it back or at least create the proper conditions for it to arrive.
One of the greatest benefits of songwriting collaboration is that on days when you’re feeling uninspired, you can borrow your co-writer’s inspiration and use it to jumpstart your own. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone into a co-write feeling flat and come out feeling inspired and back in the game solely because my co-writer was “on” that day. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there will be times when you’ll be in a position to return the favor.
2. WRITE DOWN A SONG TITLE EVERY MORNING
Another favorite trick of mine is to get in the habit of writing down a song title every morning. Not only does this wake up your songwriter brain but it also plants the seeds of inspiration while you’ve got them. That way on days when you sit down to write and can’t come up with anything, you’ve got dozens if not hundreds of titles to browse through to get yourself going.
3. GO TO A BOOKSTORE
Speaking of titles, bookstores are a treasure trove of title ideas. Since book and song titles aren’t eligible for copyright, any and all book titles are fair game. It’s amazing how simply thinking about/looking at titles will shake loose song ideas. And, besides, who doesn’t love taking a long, slow walk around a bookstore?
4. SAVE SNIPPETS OF MELODIC AND LYRICAL IDEAS
In the same way you’ll be amassing song titles, it’s never a bad idea to keep a file of song concepts or melodic snippets. Using a free smartphone app like Evernote can be a tremendous help as you can not only write down lyrical ideas but also sing/play a bit of a melody or chord progression and refer to it when you’re at a loss for new inspiration.
5. KEEP A FILE OF UNFINISHED SONGS
Another way of preventing writer’s block is to make your unfinished songs easily accessible. Set up a place where you can go and listen to the rough recordings of the songs you’ve started but, for whatever reason, haven’t taken to completion. You’ll be amazed at how new angles or solutions to prior problems will present themselves. It’s good to remember that not every song has to begin with a blank page.
BONUS TIP: GO ON INPUT FOR A WHILE
Sometimes we all need to live a little more and document our lives a little less. What I mean is instead of constantly mining your experiences for songwriting inspiration, maybe it’s time to have more experiences. Being mindful of your life and taking the time to actively participate in it will pay dividends in the long run as you’ll have a much richer and more textured set of memories to draw from. In other words, give yourself a break and live a little!
If you’re making songwriting a part of your daily or even weekly routine, it is inevitable that the level of your creative inspiration will wax and wane. Hopefully one or more of the tips above will help keep you in the game until spontaneous inspiration returns.