So, how do you get through those moments when song inspiration seems out of this world?
Here is a comprehensive list of song inspiration ideas:
- Start with a theme
- Read a book
- Have a strumming session
- Take a walk
- Try a remix
- Work somewhere else
- Listen to other music
- Travel out of town
- Study or learn some music theory
- Set a time limit
- Use visuals for inspiration
- Take a nap or go to bed
- Sit in silence
- Reward yourself
- Use a different instrument for writing
Even if you are not experiencing writer’s block and only looking for song inspiration, these techniques can open a new door of opportunity and creativity.
Start with a Theme
For good song inspiration, try thinking about what you want the song to sound like. Is it a happy tune? Is it an emotional ballad?
Also, think about what types of instruments to include. Consider the overall theme and the type of vibe you want to give off. I always like to examine my current mood and what I would like to hear at a specific moment. Then, I get to writing.
Read a Book
Song inspiration does not always have to come from within. There are so many opportunities for inspiration in the outside world and even other creative works.
I always like to recommend reading a book for inspiration since writing songs does not have to be about your personal experiences all the time. Mick Jagger apparently got some lyrical inspiration for the Rolling Stone’s song “Sympathy for the Devil” from the Russian novel “The Master and the Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov.
Have a Strumming Session
If you play an instrument—whether it is a guitar, sax, or anything in between—have a session. Play whatever comes to your mind and write down any ideas that spur in the moment.
Even if you don’t play an instrument, try playing a few notes on a piano or another familiar device. Often, songwriters get song inspiration from little notes that sound good together.
Take a Walk
When I have writer’s block, I rarely get through it by being cooped up in a recording studio—I have to get out.
Even if you can’t travel to an exotic or inspirational destination, taking a walk outside can actually generate some new ideas and feelings. Plus, moving your body can help stimulate your brain and get your gears turning. I also find that taking a walk helps me appreciate a lot of things in my environment, which really helps with song inspiration.
Try a Remix
Writer’s block can be more intense when you already have some complete songs. Knowing that you have a few projects that sound good makes it more stressful to write another great tune. Why not use those songs to your advantage?
Mix up a song you already have. Play with the cords and stir up the lyrics. You can find that a new sound to a familiar song can get your creative juices flowing. Plus, whoever complained about a good song remix?
Here’s a great video by the Producer School to get you started remixing any song.
Work Somewhere Else
When you sit in the same spot each time you write a song, inspiration can slowly diminish. While you don’t have to get a brand-new recording studio, you can find song inspiration in plenty of other places.
Some locations to check out:
- A different room in the house
- Local coffee shop
- A park
- Close friend’s house
Listen to Other Music
Believe me, you are not the only songwriter who experiences writer’s block or struggles with finding song inspiration. Plus, there are hundreds of successful artists who go through the same thing. Try listening to some of their music and find what you like.
Make sure that you don’t copy anyone else’s music because that could lead to many problems. However, there is nothing wrong with taking certain elements of a particular tune and making it your own.
Travel Out of Town
If you have the opportunity, try getting out of town—however far it may be. You can always go to the next town or the next country over. No matter what your travelling desires may be, try your best to make it happen to help yourself find inspiration.
Just like taking a walk, travelling outside of your normal setting can incite tons of song inspiration because you are seeing something new. Plus, you get some new experiences that are worthy of sharing through your music.
Study or Learn Some Music Theory
Some talented songwriters do not learn music theory—a lot of their expertise comes from their own minds. However, it is never a bad thing to brush up on this topic, especially when experiencing writer’s block.
I must say that music theory is not always the most interesting thing to study, but it can help you get through some tough writer’s block. Just being around music and learning the way musicians go about writing can help a ton.
Rick Beato is a great teacher of music theory and has some really helpful tips for expanding your songwriting.
Set a Time Limit
I often find that my song inspiration lacks because I am not motivated myself. There are some days when I do not want to do any work, so I like to recommend that people with writer’s block try setting a time limit or a goal.
Your goal could be as long as a month to a year—it’s whatever you feel. To make things more interesting, the time limit could be as little as a half-hour.
Use Visuals for Inspiration
While you can use a book or a theme for song inspiration, try imagining a specific place or a certain vision that serves as good source material. If you are thinking about an object, what are its main characteristics? What do you like about it? What makes it unlikeable?
If your visual is a place, think about how it makes you feel. How does it make others feel?
Songwriting does not have to be a lonely, individualistic thing to do. Gather a friend or two and have a jam session. Work together and talk about some things that could transfer over into a song.
Writer’s block makes it really easy to feel like you are the only one going through it. What better way to overcome it than with someone else?
They say that a cluttered space is reflective of a cluttered mind. If you feel overwhelmed with writer’s block or you struggle to find inspiration, try cleaning up your space. It can help you organize your thoughts and maybe uncover a song idea that was lurking in the back of your head. Plus, movement is always a good thing for your body.
Take a Nap or Go to Bed
If you can’t find anything worthy of song inspiration, take a break. Writing songs requires a lot of thinking which tires someone out quickly. If you are tired of your struggle for finding the right words or the right tune, sleep!
When you wake up, you can find that your mind is refreshed and ready to keep working for new song inspiration.
Sit in Silence
I understand that writing music requires involvement with sounds. However, I have found that just sitting in silence is a great way to find inspiration. I recommend people try sitting for about an hour just to identify some of the noises in their surroundings. For a real challenge, go a whole day without speaking and dedicate yourself to just listening.
Once you have those creative juices with song inspiration, you never want them to leave. When you write a song, reward yourself. After all, songwriting is a skill that not everyone has, and you should be rewarded for crafting a piece of your creativity.
Use a Different Instrument for Writing
When you use the same instrument, you get used to the same sounds. While that particular instrument may be the love of your life, it is never a bad thing to try out a different one for the purpose of finding inspiration.
The new sounds can spur up new ideas and lead to more inspiration. If you can’t let your primary instrument go, blend the two instruments together and create a new sound.
When you are stressed to write a song—or to even find the right inspiration—emotions can run high and cause you to make the problem worse. The best thing to do is relax.
When I experience writer’s block, I like to take a minute and try to relax myself. Then, I consider the next steps I can take to better the situation. Often, I use the tips listed above.
The Final Word
Finding the right song inspiration can be a difficult thing, especially when it is all accompanied by writer’s block. The best thing you can do is relax, try to change up your surroundings, and try new things. Doing the same old thing never inspired others, so get yourself out there!
This is just one of the stages of producing great music. For all the stages of a song check out our guide about Music Production: 6 Stages in the Life of a Song