Where to get inspiration for songwriting
Knowing where to get inspiration for songwriting is one of those things that everyone struggles with no matter how good they are. Since inspiration comes and goes, we have to learn to be ok with it and find ways to put ourselves in a place where we are most likely to feel inspired. To do that, we’re going to cover a few tips, but first let’s look at what inspiration is.
What is inspiration?
Lord Google defines inspiration in the following way:
Inspiration – ;the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
The keyword here is stimulation. We have to find ways to feed ourselves with creative stimulation and try to make it specific to songwriting. Let’s talk about how to do that now.
Tip #1: Find artists in other art forms
A great place to find inspiration for songwriting can actually be outside of music. Go to exhibitions from artists in other creative fields. These can be anything such as painting, film, photography, etc. You can find inspiration for your songs by learning from the creative process of other artists. Being there in person and speaking to the other people there can give you a sort of artistic culture shock that can help you feel inspired in your own work.
If you are watching this and we’re still in lockdown, you can still get inspiration from researching other artists online and watching videos of them talking about what their creative process is.
For example, something I found very inspiring was season 2 episode 1 of Abstract on Netflix featuring Olafur Eliasson. Abstract is a show where they take different types of designers and they walk you through their entire career and creative process. These artists work in all kinds of fields including art installations, environmentalism, architecture, stage design, shoe design, and more. I really liked the Olafur Eliasson episode because I found his way of seeing art very creative in the media he used and because his philosophy on art is to turn thinking into doing.
Learning from the creative process of other artists can be very inspiring for your own songwriting so if you only watch one episode from Abstract I recommend that one. Some of his art is below.
Tip #2: Traveling for concerts
Again, I know this may or may not be possible at the time you are watching this. Hopefully we haven’t reached a horrible dystopian future where concerts and festivals are no longer a thing, BUT doing something adventurous like traveling can give you all kinds of new experiences and perspectives to inspire you to write songs, and it’s even better if you’re travelling to see an artist you love in a place you’ve never been to you will definitely feel inspired and motivated to write songs when you come back.
Try taking a week off if you can, so you can really feel a change in environment and take in all the new things. The bigger the contrast to your daily life, the more likely you are to come back home feeling inspired to write songs.
Tip #3: Passionate people
Find and spend time with people who are passionate about what they do. Passion is a big driver for inspiration and surrounding yourself with people who are passionate can spill some of that over to you and help to motivate and inspire you in songwriting.
It helps if they are an artist of some kind but that’s not totally necessary. In fact, I would challenge you to try meeting passionate people in other fields. This can be sports, business, fashion, politics, or anything else. This is great because you don’t want to get stuck living in a bubble. That is a big reason many people struggle with feeling inspired. If everything’s the same every day then you are not getting creative stimulation or new perspectives to compare and contrast your musical and lyrical ideas to.
Tip #4: Volunteering
Volunteering can be incredibly rewarding. It not only makes you feel fulfilled but depending on what you volunteer for it might inspire you to write songs about it. For example, if you go feed the homeless you might feel inspired to write something dedicated to people who are less fortunate, or it might make you feel grateful about the things you have or have been taking for granted. You can volunteer to help in almost anything. If you like skateboarding, you can volunteer to teach kids. You like going to the beach? Volunteer to clean one for a day. You like concerts? Volunteer to work at a music festival or be a guitar tech for local bands. This can really inspire you to come back home and work on your own music.
I have volunteered to work at music festivals before and not only do you get in for free after your shift, but you also get to see bands, meet people, and sometimes even get free food. I highly recommend volunteering for concerts.
Tip #5: Journaling
Keeping a journal can become a great source of creative inspiration. When you write down your thoughts, opinions, or analyze things in writing it not only helps you organize your thoughts, but can trigger a flood of ideas to come out.
There’s a great book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron where she teaches people how to become more creative. She recommends what she calls daily morning pages where every morning you write down all the random inner dialogue you have when you wake up, no matter what comes out. This could be the errands you have to run, the dream you had last night, the way you feel about the weather or whatever else. The point is to get rid of all the random inner chatter that is cluttering your mind and is blocking you from being creative automatically.
The book gives plenty of other exercises to help unblock your creativity. If you want to check it out I’ll leave a link here, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, so you can get it for free with an Audible trial. It is an affiliate link and if you decide to use it, it really helps to support the channel and blog.
Lastly I did want to add one more thing. If you’ve been doing all of these things already or you have been getting lots of stimulation lately but still can’t sit down and write songs, then the problem might be that you are overstimulated. If this is you then I recommend you unplug and minimalize. Try not to think about songwriting or write anything, or do anything creative for a few days. Clean your house, throw away a bunch of stuff you never use, and just try avoiding as much stimulation and clutter in your space as possible. This helps to clear your head and you’ll most likely feel ready to sit down and write again after a few days.
Let’s recap, if you’re wondering where to find inspiration for songwriting we suggest finding artists in other art forms, travelling for concerts, spending time with passionate people, volunteering (especially for concerts), and journaling.
That’s it for today. Hopefully these tips have given you an idea of where you might be able to get inspiration for songwriting. If there is anything that helps you feel inspired that I didn’t mention share it with everyone in the comments! I’ll also be reading them and answering back.