Songwriting can be an elusive form of art.
Some writers enjoy creating alone… Others depend on their peers for a spark of inspiration.
The pandemic has had a negative effect on almost all songwriters’ creative process. Those who normally enjoy attending co-writing sessions don’t feel at ease enough to do so anymore. Those who choose to go it alone feel that they ran out of topics to write about a long time ago.
So, how does one get inspired when their life experiences are limited?
In other words, how does a songwriter write when they have nothing to write about?
Some songwriters have already turned to video calls to continue working with their collaborators. Many musicians simply carry on with their endeavors via email, text and file exchanges.
If you’re a natural introvert, you might have felt tempted to settle into a secluded routine. Perhaps you send your ideas to your colleagues and have days where you don’t actually speak to a single person.
But what if you kept the conversation going?
As professionals, we’re all programmed to keep our personal lives separate from business interactions. But in creative relationships, a little transparency can go a long way.
Sometimes, booking regular meetings to discuss anything from odd dreams to silly habits can inspire your peers to relax and open up. Hearing their stories can lead to exploring topics you’ve never thought about writing.
But flexing those creative muscles is possible even when you lack the drive to turn songwriting into a daily habit on your own.
There are various benefits to be gained from starting a songwriting club. For one, you’ll surround yourself with people who are on the same boat as you. Secondly, you can all take turns when it comes to determining the specifics of each challenge. Different time constraints, themes, song structures, keys, tempos and even styles... Think about the possibilities!
If you’re a folk songwriter, give toplining a French House instrumental a try. If you’re a jazz purist, step into the world of trap. Who’s going to stop you?
Even if you have no interest in writing in multiple genres, this is a great ear training exercise. Maybe you’ll laugh at the lines you write in the end, but at least you won’t be stuck running in circles!
You might feel like you’ve run out of stories to tell. But you’ll always have your unique emotional response to other stories that exist outside of you. Sometimes, you can be the vessel and nothing more.
Anything from watching films, TV series, reading novels or even listening to immersive podcast shows can lead you down paths you’ve never explored before.
Most musicians think that practicing songwriting and writing songs are the same thing. But each task serves a different purpose.
When you write a song, you should aim to create without boundaries. Letting your mind roam freely is key to tapping into something great.
But when you practice songwriting, you should be critical of your strengths and weaknesses. Do you always write in the same tempo and key? Do you have your go-to melodic and lyrical phrases that are starting to become bad habits? Do you know how to use literary devices like imagery, alliteration or personification?
When you practice songwriting, you should set aside a finite amount of time in which you aim to fulfill a brief.
Each brief might contain a few general instructions. For instance, you can pick a chord progression, random tempo and time signature. Then, you should add more limiting instructions. Maybe you decide that you make the exercise about writing a verse, and that the word “chair” must be in it. Maybe you also challenge yourself to use the word “chair” symbolically.
Each time you practice songwriting, you’ll reach into the deep corners of your mind. And who knows? You might want to turn some of your practice verses and choruses into full-blown songs one day.