Songwriting Inspiration Exercises

It can sometimes be extremely difficult to come up with a new concept for a song from scratch. Of course, you want a good story and preferably something you have not heard before. Often songwriters already get stuck there. Fortunately, there are several ways to awaken your creative mind. You will do many of these exercises at the Wisseloord Academy. Probably not every exercise will help you equally, songwriting is of course very personal. That is why it is important to try out all the exercises and tips; you will eventually find the way that suits you perfectly to come up with new ideas, even if you are stuck in a writer’s block. Here are a few tips to practice with:

Object writing

If you’re not quite sure what you want to write about, this exercise is perfect. Choose a random object, for example your shoe and set a timer for ten minutes. In these ten minutes you will write down as many things as possible that have to do with your shoe. Describe what it looks like, where you bought it, where you’ve been with it and what you experienced with it. It doesn’t matter as long as your pen doesn’t leave the paper. You must keep writing constantly. If you can’t think of a nice sentence, just literally write down the individual words that come to mind.

When the ten minutes are over, you can read the result. You are most likely not going to write a song about your shoe, but chances are that there is a certain phrase or word in your text that suddenly appeals to you. For example, replace the word ‘shoe’ with a word that you do like and continue writing from that point. Eventually you’ll probably come up with a new song or idea that has nothing to do with your shoe, but those ten minutes of writing will give you new inspiration!

Unusual combinations

Songwriting is all about telling a story. Unusual combinations of words can be helpful in telling or portraying a story or feeling. For example, think of combinations such as ‘the dry water’ or ‘the silent sound’. A good exercise to come up with these kinds of combinations is to make two columns on paper. In the left column you put 20 adjectives and in the right column 20 nouns. Do this with the paper folded in the middle so that you can only see the column you are writing in. When you have completed both columns, unfold the paper again and you will see the random word combinations you just created. There is almost always something that works very well and that you can use in your songwriting!

Extra tips

If you’re multilingual, you might want to consider starting writing in a different language than what you’re used to. When you have finally written a nice draft, you translate it back into your preferred language. In this way you often end up with new word choices.

The last tip is to use your notepad! Many people use this in their phone, but a real physical notepad is of course also useful. In everyday life you will come across many words, phrases and quotes that are beautiful to use in your songwriting. Think of texts in films or series, but also conversations that you overhear in everyday life. Write them down! If you get stuck writing later, you’ll have a nice reference book full of ideas that you can use.

To read more about Songwriting and how to improve the process of developing, creating and refining recorded music visit our knowledge base page about Songwriting Education.