Songwriting is a creative activity. Sometimes songwriters need a shot of motivation to get creative juices flowing. Here is a list of 19 ways to kick start those creative juices.
1) Make Lists
Lists are great ways to come up with ideas. In the case of songwriting, you can start a list of words and ideas that relate to the song you are working on. Lists can also morph in to process by listing various tasks and placing them in sequential order. Songwriting is a process and a list can help keep you on track.
2) Carry a Notebook Everywhere
You never know when an idea will strike. You could be anywhere and a great song title or song concept will jump out at you. If you have a notebook handy it is a simple task to open it up and write it down. Now you don’t have to rely on your memory to hold that idea. Open your notebook later and you will have your ideas ready to work on.
3) Free Write
Free-writing is an activity where you just start writing. It does not matter what you write as long as you write. Here is an exercise you can try. Open up your notebook filled with ideas. Pick an idea. Write that idea at the top of the page. Get a timer and set it for 2 minutes. Now start to write with the original idea as the seed to begin. Don’t edit and don’t think about it just write. Once the timer stops you need to stop writing. You will be surprised at the content you will have after a few minutes of writing. Will it all be good? Maybe not! That is not the point of this exercise. The point is to get your creative juices flowing and get down to writing.
4) Take Breaks
If you work too long on a project the result will be fatigue. Fatigue hinders creativity. When you write songs it is a good idea to stop and take breaks. You will often find that the break is exactly what you needed to get that breakthrough idea.
5) Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Creative people are usually their own worst critic. Self talk like; “I am not good enough” or “That idea really sucks”, is self destructive behavior. Therefore, take it easy on yourself to allow some room to improve. That requires trying things, failing and correcting the situation. When you come up with a great song, give yourself the freedom to acknowledge that it good.
6) Listen to New Music
Most songwriters write song in specific music genre. They become familiar with the melody, form and lyrics of that style of music. To help spark creativity find music in a totally different genre than you are use to listening to. Listen with an open mind. Discover how the genre is similar or different. It may spark new way of doing things.
7) Be Open
Ideas are all around. If you open yourself up to new ideas, you will find those ideas will find you. Closing off opportunities will only stifle creativity. Always be on the look out for new ideas you will find that they will come when you least expect them to arrive. Be ready.
8) Surround Yourself with Creative People
9) Get Feedback
How can you know if your songs are any good unless you allow feedback? Feedback will give you a gauge on how well you are doing. Honest feedback gives you the ability to adjust and improve your skill. Get a song critique by someone you trust their opinion. Play your songs for friends. Ask them what their thoughts are. Be gracious when getting feedback. I know that your songs are you babies but if you blow up and have a bad attitude you will never get better at writing songs.
Find someone who also likes to write songs and make a point of writing a song together. The combined efforts will result in a better product. Everyone has their own individual strengths. Bring together two or more people allows each one to shine in their strengths. A good lyricist is always helped by a good composer.
11) Don’t Give Up
The worse thing you can do is give up your songwriting efforts. It would be a tragedy to give up only and discover you were inches away from a breakthrough. Unfortunately we live in a society that wants instant gratification. Even if you don’t feel like you are moving ahead in your efforts, fight the urge to give up.
12) Practice, Practice, Practice
The more you do a task the better you will get. That is true only if you practice thing correctly. The activity of practice embeds that behavior to the point where it becomes easier to do. When thing become easier it frees you up to become more creative because there will be less effort in doing the tasks you practice.
13) Allow Yourself to Make Mistakes
Admit it, you are a perfectionist. You want everything to come out perfect. This attitude can paralyze your creative efforts. Get yourself permission to make a mistake. You will learn from your mistakes. Any mistake can become the springboard for new and better ideas.
14) Take Risks
Try something new. That is the essence of taking risks. New things can be intimidating. The fear of the unknown can stop you in your tracks. Take a risk and once you have you will find increased confidence and energy.
15) Know When to Break the Rules
Rules are a good thing. Things work really well when done the right way. Rules give guidance and direction. Rules keep us inside the lines. But there are certain times where breaking a rule will increase creative output. Doing things in a different or unique way will bring about different outcomes to any situation you are working on. Break the rules sometimes but not all the time.
16) Don’t Force Creativity
Creativity depends on inspiration. Inspiration comes in many forms. Always be ready for that moment when inspiration arrives. However, forcing your creative efforts can lead to frustration and disappointment. If it isn’t there, it isn’t there. Take a break and do something else. Eventually that creative moment will arrive. Forces creativity will give mediocre results.
17) Create a Framework
Framework is a pattern of tasks. In songwriting you can take this approach by developing certain processes that speed up creativity. The framework gives you a structure to work with. Take the framework and add ideas to it to make it unique.
18) Clear the Clutter
Everyone has a level of tolerance with it come to environmental clutter. Clutter is a distraction that will derail your creativity. Think of it as a new clean sheet of paper. If the paper already has things on it, it makes it difficult to start a new work. Clearing the workplace brings in freshness. Of course don’t go overboard and clean to the point of exhaustion. That would be counter productive.
19) Have Fun
If you are not having fun doing what you are doing, then stop doing it. But, if you love doing it and it is fun that brings a level of motivation that is hard to stop. Allow yourself to have fun. All work and no play make one a dull person.
Now Do It
There you have it 19 ways to spark your creativity. Should you use all of these? Of course you should. But don’t do all of them at the same time. First try one or two of them and see the results. Then do another two or three. You will find that some work really well for you. Now go and create that new song,