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How To Draw Inspiration As A Songwriter

by | Master Your Craft, Songwriters

Songwriters everywhere experience differing levels of inspiration at any given time. Naturally, it can be tricky to anticipate inspiration, but we can get better at provoking it and harnessing it when it comes to us. Today, we will run through a brief list of practices that you can implement to help spark your creative juices and get you inspired to write your next song or album. 

Keep A Notebook On Hand

We can’t predict when inspiration will strike, but we can be prepared for when it does. Most successful songwriters have mastered recording every spontaneous spark of creativity onto some form of a notebook. Not only will carrying a notebook give you constant access to a pool of ideas that you can further develop, but it will also train your brain to be more conscious of anything you conceptualize on the spot. 

The most traditional method of keeping track of your ideas is to keep a simple notebook and pen on hand wherever you are. The more modern approach would be to make use of mobile notebook apps. However, you should always try to stay away from these devices in case they stunt creative flow. 

Take Yourself On Artist Dates

It is possible to go out into the world and actively seek environments and experiences that inspire you. Artist dates are common for many creatives and have even been adopted by non-creative industries to stimulate productivity. The premise of an artist date is to find other people or spaces that might help fuel or ignite some creativity in you. These dates are often most productive when you do them alone, but some find comfort and stimulation from the right company. Below is a brief rundown of common artist dates:

  • A theatre performance, opera, or movie screening
  • Poetry readings, open mic nights, and live music performances by both familiar and unfamiliar artists. 
  • Art exhibitions, museums, historical sites, and landmarks. 
  • Other creative classes such as pottery, cooking, or dancing. 

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

It’s very easy for artists to rely on the habits and routines that help them flow and create a more fun, enjoyable experience. However, these comfort zones can often lead us to make repetitive decisions when songwriting, which can cause creative atrophy. It’s no secret that growth happens most outside of your comfort zone, and the same can be applied to songwriting. Try to develop ideas using tools that you may not conventionally reach for during the creative process. 

For instance, if you are a producer that tracks ideas on their computer, try to write using just one instrument and your cell phone’s voice recorder. While it might take some trial and error to settle into some flow, you’ll force your brain to seek creative solutions with the little that you do have and often to surprising results. Ideally, you should conceptualize and track ideas regardless of the tools at hand, and removing yourself from your comfort zone will help nurture this instinct. 

Draw From Your Memory

There are fewer stories that you can paint a more vivid picture of than your life. While some may not feel as if they have any exciting or important memories to draw from for inspiration, everybody has a few moments in their life that are universally relatable. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find material amongst your memories once you commit to digging through them. Some songwriters draw from romantic and family relationships, while others write about random experiences and chance encounters with strangers. The choice of experience to draw from is entirely up to you, and you can use the same memories or concepts to tell stories from different perspectives. 

Set Creative Goals

An excellent trick to mapping out a sense of direction is to set some creative goals that you can aspire to reach. Even though inspiration can’t always be spontaneously created, you can still train your brain and body to create for when it does strike. Most successful artists set aside dedicated hours daily to practice tapping into their creativity. The time you set aside and the level of creative output you want to achieve are entirely up to you, but it is essential to push yourself to expand your creative boundaries. Sometimes a bit of self-induced pressure can help to force some inspiration into us, and meeting personal creative deadlines is a healthy way to practice this technique. 

Work With The Right People

The more creatively motivated and compelling people you surround yourself with, the more likely you will channel inspiration consistently as a songwriter. Whether it be your fellow composers, sessions musicians, producers, engineers, or even your social circles, make sure to work with creatively stimulating people. It’s also healthy to ensure that nobody within your creative team is hindering your creative flow – and if so, to find a meaningful solution to rectify the situation. Much like work ethic or team morale, inspiration can be passed around amongst team members that are all on the same page and seek the same creative objectives. 

Final Thoughts

Inspiration can be linked-to catching fish in that it’s never guaranteed success with every try. But every good songwriter knows that you won’t catch the fish if you don’t head out to the ocean and pitch a rod. By following some of the above-listed practices, you’ll probably have a firmer grasp of the open waters of inspiration and be more ready for your next big catch. Thanks for taking the time out to read through our guide on drawing inspiration as a songwriter.

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