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How to Find Musical Inspiration for Your Next Song

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

If you’re lucky, musical inspiration strikes at the perfect time, and the next thing you know, you’ve written your next great song. Sometimes, though, the act of creating music takes a lot more work. It’s easy for even the most prolific songwriters to encounter writer’s block or to find themselves stuck in a creative rut, where they feel like they’re doing the same thing over and over.

Like any other creative art form, being a musician has its challenges. What do you do when your music inspiration has dried up and you don’t feel like you could write a good song to save your life? Here are some songwriting tips and methods to help you find the motivation and inspiration to write your next song.

What causes creative blocks in music?

There are so many things that can disrupt your flow when it comes to crafting great music. Negative feedback in reaction to something you written can shake your confidence and make it hard for you to take your next creative risk. Being sick or exhausted can make it difficult to string together your thoughts or ideas in an expressive way.

Major life changes — moving to a new apartment, having a child, losing a job or landing a new one, losing a loved one, dealing with health issues — all the above have potential to mess with your creative process.

If you find yourself falling off the songwriting horse, don’t fear and don’t feel like you’re alone. Creative disruptions happen to even the most successful songwriters. Identifying the possible roadblocks to making great music is a strong step towards overcoming them.

Diverse sources of musical inspiration

One way to avoid or overcome writer’s block is to have some go-to strategies in mind for finding inspiration. The biggest tip I can offer? Look within.

Your memories, experiences, adventures, failures, hard-won victories, and tragic near-misses — all of these can be great creative fuel for writing your next great song. Anything that makes you feel something real and powerful can become motivation for your next song idea.

Another great way to go is to listen and learn from different sounds and genres. Are you a jazz artist stuck in a rut? Listen to a whole lot of bluegrass and K-pop and see what ideas come to you. Have you been playing metal all your life but feel like you’ve run out of ideas? Dial up some Handel or Debussy or Irish folk songs and see where they take you.

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Practical strategies to spark creativity

A great way to help jumpstart your creative juices is to create a space where you feel comfortable creating. For some, this will mean tie-dye wall hangings, lava lamps, and incense; for others, it’s a minimalist room with nothing but your music-making equipment and a nice view of nature. Go with whatever makes you feel energized and ready to create.

It can also help to populate your creative area with tools that will inspire you. Perhaps getting a variety of hand percussion instruments that you’ve never tried before will help you craft new grooves, and then new songs. Maybe virtual instrument libraries like Musio can help you play around with sounds and textures you never would have otherwise discovered.

Learning from the masters

Whether your heroes are Beyonce or Bob Dylan, Jay-Z or Bjork, it can always help to look to great songwriters for inspiration. Do you love how the Rolling Stones wrote the propulsive chorus on “Paint It Black” or how Adele goes heartbreakingly high on “Someone Like You”? See if you can incorporate similar techniques, emotions, or ideas into your own song and see where that first step takes you.

Of course, while great songwriters can be great inspirations, avoid just copying what your idols did. Instead, absorb and analyze what you love about their songwriting and find your own unique way of doing the same in your music.

If can also help to look to classic techniques of songwriting for inspiration. Try listening to ten mainstream Motown hits and pay attention to how they structure verses, choruses, and bridges. What happens when you follow a similar structure in your own songwriting?

Similarly, what happens if you take the classic structure and throw it for a loop — doubling the number of verses or throwing in three bridges instead of one? There are no hard and fast rules — just what works for you and makes your songwriting soar.

Maintaining a productive songwriting routine

If songwriting isn’t coming naturally to you at any given point, it can help to remember that songwriting is very similar to sports: the more regularly you practice and integrate it into your daily life, the better you’ll be. Olympic athletes don’t just train when they feel inspired to — they pursue their passion doggedly according to a rigorous routine. If you want to excel at songwriting, it’s worth trying to do the same.

While discipline and routine are helpful, leave space for spontaneity. You never know when inspiration will strike, so make sure you have a way of recording or jotting down cool new ideas with minimal effort, even if they come to you at inconvenient times.

Navigating through creative droughts

Writer’s block stinks, but luckily, there are tried and true methods for shaking yourself out of a creative block. Some of the below may seem simplistic, but give them a try and see what happens:

  • Take a walk or do something else to get exercise.
  • Change your location and surroundings.
  • Make sure you’re well fed and hydrated.
  • Talk to a friend or stranger.
  • Write music anyway, even if you think what you’re writing is terrible.
  • Ask people you trust for feedback.
  • Reach out to someone you respect to see if they want to co-write something with you.
  • Go to a museum, see a play, watch a movie.
  • Try writing music on an instrument you’ve never played before.
  • Set a timer for ten minutes and see what kind of song you can write.
  • Set up a microphone, dial up a simple beat, and free-style lyrics and a melody until you get something interesting.

The list could go on, but the idea remains the same. If you’re stuck in a rut, do anything you can to shake things up a bit, change your frame of reference, and just keep going.

And when you’ve got your best songs written, recorded, and mastered, Disc Makers is the place to go to produce professional CDs and vinyl LPs so you can deliver them to your fans in style.

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About Philip Kinsher

Philip Kinsher is a writer, editor, and musician with a predilection for YA Sci-fi Fantasy books and rock and roll. And golf and pickleball.

2 thoughts on “How to Find Musical Inspiration for Your Next Song

  1. Like so many articles on just about everything regarding all the arts, this article is so general as to be useless. Specific examples of how the author or others dealt with particular problems are needed, switching between generalizations and specifics is the best teaching tool. Going back to when you were two:
    “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s a cow.”
    “Look, Mama, another cow.” “No, that’s a horse.”
    “Is that a horse or a cow?” “That’s a pig.”
    Eventually you learn each specific animal is part of a larger generalization, animals. But there’s no such thing as something that’s just an animal without being a specific type of animal.
    That’s how we learn most of what we know, except in the arts, where they try to teach by generalizations without specifics.
    And, yes, going for a walk is specific in a sense, but HOW did someone create a song by going for a walk?

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