It’s been two years since I started my songwriting journey. While still got so much to learn, one thing I’ve noticed, and I feel most of you will agree, is that after a while we all struggle to find ideas for a new song. Most of us start writing songs because we have experiences to share and so we run out of ideas after a while. Now one thing you need to remember is that we always have experiences to share. It’s just that we run out of ideas that help us bring those experiences out. We run out of themes, stimulus to get started. So here are five tried and tested ways to come up with new song ideas that work all the time for me.
1. Declutter your thoughts and emotions.
Our mind is occupied with many thoughts all the time and it can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed, which results in a creative block. In such situations, we need to clear up our minds. It’s pretty simple. Just take a piece of paper or a notebook. I prefer a notebook because a paper can easily get misplaced. Take a pen, sit at a peaceful place and close your eyes for a few minutes. A peaceful place doesn’t necessarily have to be a place which is silent, it means a place where you find yourself at peace. I usually find myself at peace when I’m having tea/coffee at the local coffee shop. So, close your eyes for a while, stop thinking, and let your mind calm down. Then open the notebook and start writing the first word that comes to your mind. Don’t pause to think because you need things that are already on your mind, and thinking about what to write will not help. Keep writing whatever comes to your mind. Doesn’t matter if it’s not making sense. Doesn’t matter if you are not even writing proper sentences. All you need is to empty your mind. Now chances are that out of everything you’ve written, you’ll always find something that can be turned into a song. Decluttering your mind not only helps you overcome creative block and empty your thoughts, but also brings out interesting things that are stored in your subconscious.
2. Take a late-night stroll.
This is something I do every night. Because there is nearly no commotion during this time. Taking a late-night stroll is really soothing. The overall feel during the late hours is soothing, plus walking stimulates thoughts. You might even find inspiration from the surroundings; if not, you’ll surely find one in your thoughts. There is something magical about being alone outdoors during the late hours. What I do is, after having dinner, I sit in my room, listen to some music, and then I head outside. I don’t listen to songs while walking because I can’t think about something else when songs are playing in the headphones. I have a habit of singing along regardless of where I am and who is around me. I listen to songs before going out because it prepares my mind for musical thoughts (that’s what I think and that’s where ideas mostly come from). Try it out and remember to note down or record whatever comes to your mind immediately.
3. Watch a movie.
Watching a movie, as lazy and counter-productive as it might sound, really helps in coming up with song ideas. I’ve come across plenty of ideas while watching a movie or a show. Let me tell you one such instance. I was watching a series on Netflix named “Once Upon A Time’. It’s a fantasy series. In one episode there’s a certain situation that arises between two characters and I immediately thought – “I’m gonna a write a song about this”. So that’s how it works. Not even a scene or a situation, all you need is a word or a phrase which you feel can be turned into a song. So, choose a movie, or a show or anything you want and start watching. Keep an eye out for interesting stuff and you will definitely end up with an idea for your next song.
4. Re-read a Book.
Pick up a book that you’ve already read. It can be a novel, or even a short story; anything that is fiction. I would prefer fantasy because I love fantasy. You can choose whatever you are most interested in. Now because you’ve already read it, you’re aware of the most interesting parts. Jump to those parts and try finding something that you can write about. It can be a particular situation which is interesting enough to make a song, a character’s point of view about how he/she is feeling, or even the whole story summarized into a song. If not, just do what I said for the movies. Start reading from the beginning and keep an eye out for interesting words, phrases and dialogues. Always works for me and I’m pretty sure it will work for you.
5. The Dictionary Method.
It’s totally random, but fun. Pick up a dictionary, open to a random page and scan for interesting words. Do it till you are satisfied with a word and then start writing about it. If you don’t have a dictionary, just go to google and search for ‘all the words that start with a’ or ‘all the words that start with s’ etc., whichever letter you want. Then find a word you like. I’ve tried this only once, but I was able to find a few interesting words. While the words I found did not become the main theme of the song, I just started writing using those words as starting points and then found out a topic from all the random things that I ended up writing.