Songwriting ideas, how to capture them?

As a songwriter you need to be creative and inspired, you need to come up with new songwriting ideas and new ways to deliver messages. If you are a professional songwriter, (or you want to be one), you have no time for writing blocks. You just have to get to job and write a song.

In this section I will show you some of the theory and techniques I teach my students in the subject of songwriting ideas and creativity.

As a songwriter you need to know a way to find new ideas, even if you´re not feeling creative. You need a way to find inspiration every day. I once heard a writer said:

"I just write when I´m feeling inspired, so I just have to be inspired every morning at 09.00 AM."

The same goes for songwriters. If songwriting is your living, you just have to be inspired every morning. Luckily, there are techniques to be learned so you don´t get trapped in the writing block era. You need to understand, the creativity is like a muscle, it needs both exercises and rests.


The four stages of creativity

For a better understanding of the creative process I will introduce a model that psychologists have worked out. They say that the creative process goes through four stages:

1. Preparation. This is the stage where you learn the basic tools. It may be your music education, your life experience or the finding of your form and style.

2. Incubation. You have been given a theme or a problem, and this is where your unconscious mind works for a solution. Don´t underestimate this stage, often your unconscious mind can come up with some great solutions. Give your mind some time. Think of the problem, and then come back to it after a while.

3. Illumination. This is the stage where you are trying out different songwriting ideas. Let your ideas flow and write/tape everything you sing/play. Don´t be to self critic at this stage and don´t start to work on the details. Just let the ideas com out and capture them to the sheet/tape. This stage i also called the "Aha" or "Eureka" stage.

4. Verification. This is the stage where you´re trying to look at the song from an objective point of view. This is where you polish and rewrite. Let your inner critic come out. Try to detach from the song and decide if it is something to go further with. Be the judge if the idea was good enough.


If you´re not feeling inspired or having any songwriting ideas, what should you do?

Sit down and force yourself to write. Don´t wait for the inspiration to come. When you just get started, the inspiration often comes by itself. Force yourself to just get started. This is often enough:)

Another approach is to play a couple of your favorite songs on the stereo. I know a very successful songwriter that always starts his day playing two of his favorite songs. This gets him in the right "state" to write.

Some writers I know have developed some rituals before they go into their "writing state". It may be to walk around the block to prepare their minds for songwriting, or it can be some ritual movements in the living room.

Give yourself some specific frames to write within, (or cal a friend to give you a specific theme). This gives your mind a more specific form to work within. It may be easier to come up with some ideas if you know you´re going to write a song about "a girl coming home to her hometown after four years, and then meeting her first love", rather than if you´re trying to write about "anything".

Some writers need a deadline to get something done. If the producer calls and tells them the artist needs a uptempo country song within 12 a.m tomorrow, they can create a great song. Otherwise they can´t write a thing. If you are in this category, trick yourself into having deadlines. Schedule meetings with A&R people or publishers where you have to show them new songs.

Someone needs total silence to write, others can write while they´re watching TV and talking to their kids. Someone needs collaborators and someone needs a specific project. Find out how the songwriting ideas and creativity comes to you. Then you know how to get ready to make a song.

Be prepared!

Sometimes you get some great ideas when you´re at a dinner party or when you´re out driving. An exiting hookline just drops into your head. You think "I will remember than one". When you come home, it´s all gone. I have been there many, many times, and all of my songwriter colleagues have also been there. Learn from this and always carry something to capture the ideas when they arrives. Have a piece of paper ready when the ideas pops up.

Songwriting ideas are floating everywhere. They´re in the newspapers, in a conversation you overhear, they pops up while your driving or anywhere else. Be prepared to capture them when they arrive. :-)

The Song Title
The next article in the craft section is about the importance of the song title. Click here to go directly to it.

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