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#458355 - 02/20/18 04:03 AM [Songwriting] Inspiration
camp_band Offline

Registered: 02/20/18
Posts: 16
Hello guys! How are you guys doing today?
I wanted to ask you how did you find your inspiration to write songs, and does it changes with every other song?

#458406 - 02/20/18 10:23 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Mikke - PG Music Offline

Registered: 01/25/18
Posts: 52
Loc: British Columbia
Hello Camp_Band,

Welcome to the PG Music forums. You have come to the right place, there are tons of users with years of experience in songwriting.

This is a pretty subjective question, one I am sure will have many approaches. As cliche as it might sound, I always recommend doing what is right for you.

For me, inspiration comes with mood. How I feel, and where I am at in life will dictate what I feel like writing. Sometimes it is a lack of anything, I just come up with something interesting because I was bored.

In my opinion, sometimes songwriting circles can be a bit too rigid, or serious. There is no right or wrong way to make music, that is the beauty of art.

It doesn't take too long listening to the radio to see lots of songs are about falling in or out of love.

You could do that, or you could write about a big blue dog who came from space, and challenged superman to a race.

While I might not have a structure to abide to, or have the ability to know what inspires you, I do have one rule that comes above all else when making music...

Have Fun.
C-sharp when you cross the street… or you’re going to B-flat.

Mikke - PG Music

#458495 - 02/20/18 05:41 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Belladonna Offline

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Songwriting Inspiration – Where Does It Come From? 2/20/18

Some songwriter’s will tell you they only write when the heaven opens and rains a song down on them. And I am sure it does happen occasionally. But there may be long dry spells in between.

If you talk to your best songwriters you will find that they approach songwriting totally differently. More like a job, a craft that can be developed. Show up every day at 9:00 am with your coffee and write for an hour and learn. Read everything you can get your hands on. Look at hit songs and analyze them, what makes them great? Take a songwriting class, they even offer some online or join an online or local group. And it’s gonna’ take time, probably years and you’re probably not going to make a lot if any money.

If your only goal is to be rich and famous, forget it because I’m 99% sure it ain’t happening. You have to love it and just want to do it for yourself. If you find people that like your songs that’s even better. But you will run into your share of frustrated musicians, narcissist egocentric people who can’t understand why the world never recognized them as rock stars. They carry a chip on their shoulder and many times they will not be encouraging or even nice. Many times musicians critiques are just their biases, likes and dislikes and will not have much value in truly analyzing the quality of your craft. And maybe they’re not really qualified to do that. You have to take what is helpful and positive and have a pretty thick skin. If you are lucky you may find a mentor you trust who will be qualified to judge your work in an unbiased way. And with all that in your life, writing songs and creating music may still end up just a hobby.

So back to the topic, where to find inspiration. The answer is everywhere. Your life, the people you hang out with, your spouse, neighbor, strangers, things you read online or in the newspaper, see on TV, from other songs, books, movies, poetry, the weather, etc. The key is to start looking for inspiration and have a system of organization where you can retrieve ideas, notes, stories when you have time to write. I use Microsoft OneNote to store all my ideas.

I visit several web-sites where others write songs and I look for ideas there that I might incorporate into my own songwriting. Inspirational quotes are great. I read stories about people’s lives and problems and sometimes get an idea from that. I also go to writer web-sites and they have daily prompts and I can read what others have written. Pat Pattison has a web-site called where he gives you a daily word and many people write using all their sensory perception which helps you be a better writer in that you show rather than tell in your songwriting. There’s a site called 365 Day Prompts, which has a prompt for everyday. I have gotten ideas off things people posted on FaceBook. Ideas are everywhere.

Edited by Belladonna (02/20/18 05:45 PM)

#458659 - 02/21/18 08:08 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
ManInTwoSocks Offline

Registered: 02/09/18
Posts: 12
Loc: Los Angeles, Cauliflower
That's a great idea, Belladonna, that 365 Day Prompts site.
If anybody is interested in finding more sites with those types
of writing prompts, simply Google "Writing Prompts" and you
will find sites that have as many as 100s of writing prompts on
one page. You can also find many more similar sites by Googling "Essay ideas."

Another similar site is: Site With Over 1000 Debate Topics
That site is designed to aid debaters. Every one, of the over 1000
topics on that site, has both the pros and cons of that topic.

Along similar lines, i would recommend two books:
What Can I Write About?: 7000 Topics for High School Students.
Both of the above books are available at Amazon inexpensively.

Also, on Google Play Store if you search for 'writing prompts' and
'essay ideas' you will find lots of apps that have numerous more
ideas to give you inspiration for song ideas.

However, i do want to warn you that you need to be careful if you
use the name of a character from a movie or book, even in just
the title of your song, because if that name is trademarked, you
can be sued, even if you only use it in your title.

But my favorite way to generate ideas for songs is this:
Imagine you are talking to someone. It could either be someone
you know well or someone famous you have never met. Imagine
you are explaining something to this person. When you have said
everything that you wanted to say to that person, in your mind,
then write it down.

Then start writing a song using words that are as close as possible
to the words you spoke in your mind. Don't worry about rhyming
and song structure at first. You want to put the main emphasis
on the ideas, at first, so that you can write asong that really
communicates to people on a deep level and says things that really
touches their hearts. Then, once you have the ideas fully fleshed
out you can start to concentrate on rhyming and the song's structure.

I came up with the above technique this past week after imagining a conversation
with someone i know and then realizing that it would make a great
idea for a song. I can' t begin to describe what a fun way this technique
is to write songs. It is not necessary for songwriting to be a tedious
process in which the tortured songwriter bares their soul to an audience that wants to
become even more depressed than they already are. The actual joufulness
that you put into your creative process will be communicated to others
and will make them feel better about their own selves and will raise
them up.

Science fiction writer Harlan Ellison has often been asked: Where do you
get your ideas from? His usual reply has been either "Schenectady" or

#458723 - 02/22/18 09:44 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Belladonna Offline

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Where do you get your ideas from? His usual reply has been either "Schenectady" or"Poughkeepsie." Ha! Ha! Love this!!

Man in Two Socks, great ideas and tips above. Inspiration is everywhere. The more you write the more ideas and inspiration you get. It's like priming a pump. But you have to make an effort to do it, doesn't just rain down very often.

Sometimes I write a letter to someone as if I'm telling them the story and what happened and then I will develop my song from that. Next I may do an outline like for a video

Scene 1 (Verse 1) What, when, who, how, why
Scene 2 (Verse 2) Developing the story more
Finale (Bridge) Wrap up, conclusion, moral, etc

Structure, metaphors, rhyming, etc. next and finally
re-write, re-write, re-write; Self-critique and make those lines better.

Thanks for you input.

#458734 - 02/22/18 11:20 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Deryk - PG Music Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 02/15/17
Posts: 1468
If I only I knew what created musical inspiration - I'd bottle and sell it! In all seriousness, I'm really not sure. I definitely know when there is a lot going on in my life I am typically writing more. Whereas when I'm in the day to day cycle, and nothing is really happening - I typically hit my writing dry spells. I find if I try to force my writing, it sounds dry and uninspired.

That's just my take on it though - I'm interested to hear more of others smile

#458764 - 02/22/18 03:23 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Belladonna Offline

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
I think sometime the well does run low. After writing about twenty FAWM and other songs in February I did feel sort of like scraping the bottom of the barrel. However, someone somewhere gave me a new idea that was great. I revisited my Song Titles list that I always keep going in my files. I the listed ahead 10 new song titles that every morning I now visit to write a song and it have triggered a new wave of inspiration. Sometimes I have an idea or a title, like when I was young I had a 1959 Blue Teal Malibu and I was the hot babe in the Blue Teal Malibu. So I decided to write a song about that and I googled Blue Malibu and I found a story about a cute girl who has a web-site called Blue Malibu and she's sort of a Betty Boop looking model and she's selling cool clothing to young women. Got a lot of ideas for my song.

Edited by Belladonna (02/22/18 03:25 PM)

#460824 - 03/06/18 08:13 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: Mikke - PG Music]
camp_band Offline

Registered: 02/20/18
Posts: 16
That so cool. Thank you so much for the responses guys!

@Mikke-PG Music. Thanks smile The thing with me is that when I am bored I kinda go into a stuck state of mind. Sometimes it's just hard for me to express myself. Is this the drill that beginners have to deal with, or it's just me? Otherwise, I completely agree! Having fun is so important and sometimes we completely forget to do so because we overthink or strike to perfection. (at least that's what I do)

@Belladonna I was just going to ask whether reading also affects your songwriting skills. But yeah, makes sense. Isn't it dangerous to look at other peoples creations though because it might affect your own work? I mean sometimes you take a certain idea unconsciously and you think that you came up with it but in reality, you didn't, so you might get in big trouble. I will check out the site though, thank you!

@ManInTwoSocks yeah the copyright strike is a very serious thing. I even heard that some artists trademarked whole phrases...

#460900 - 03/06/18 03:40 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Belladonna Offline

Registered: 09/09/17
Posts: 250
Loc: Virginia
Camp_Band, There's an old saying "it's not where you got something from it's where you take it to".

I'm not talking about plagurism, using someone's else's work or phrases. But I'm talking about ideas. For instance recently I've been looking at the lyrics of contemporary songs for new song titles. There's a lot of cool, unique words in some lines. Maybe I would reverse a couple of words or look up some synonisms for the same words or idea.

Sometimes I hear a country song and I write a response to it or the other side of the story. Maybe it's about a girl who's left a guy. I'll write it the opposite way he left her for someone else. Or, I'll write a sequel to the story. Thinking about writing a response to the country song "Marry Me" where he actually talks to his best friend and let's her know he's loved for for a long time and will always be around if things don't work out.

You might find some cool words in a poem that could be a song title. Titles are not copyrighted in most cases. You might hear some cool words an actor might say in a movie line or a novel. It's all about looking at others work for ideas and inspiration.

So, like the Beatles wrote a song called "Yesterday" and it's all about how life used to be. What if you wrote a song called "Tomorrow" and it's all about how your life is going to be in the future and so different from today.

Everyday I do something with songwriting. I don't write a song everyday, but I may look at a song I like and try to figure out how they wrote it and what's so cool about it. I may just write a couple of lines of something or I may look for some titles or concepts to write a song in the future. The important thing is that you start a discipline of writing something for at least fifteen minutes a day.

If you're stuck you can also free write, that means just putting down anything that pops in your mind, don't try to rhyme or have a cool phrase or anything.

The other thing that improves your writing a lot is to object write. So from your free write or even just pick a verb and a noun from wherever the dictionary opens and write anything putting all your seven senses in it. Taste, smell, visual, hearing, touch, kinetic movement and internal sensations.

Take the word "Runaway Train" and write using a paragraph using all your senses about the runaway train and maybe even how does your life feel like a runaway train. Maybe your life is out of control and there's an impending threat.

If you think you have to write a song everyday, it's overwhelming and intimating, so you don't. You just have to write anything and even bad songs are fine.

Edited by Belladonna (03/06/18 03:48 PM)

#461151 - 03/08/18 09:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Ember - PG Music Offline
PG Music Staff

Registered: 06/19/17
Posts: 1046
Loc: Victoria, BC
For me personally it's all about the emotion. No matter what artistic media I am using, I find that so long as I have an emotion -- whether anger, sadness, or pure joy -- I need an extreme emotion in order to be inspired to write or to make something happen artistically speaking. I find no matter what or how much I try to create when I am not emotionally invested in the project that it just falls flat, or I get flustered and scrap it. So in order to remain inspired or get inspired, I need to be moved by something or have an overwhelming need to convey a certain sentiment.

#461746 - 03/12/18 02:43 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
camp_band Offline

Registered: 02/20/18
Posts: 16
I agree with @Ember - PG Music. I think emotion has a major role in songwriting. Especially, when you are able to connect to your deepest sadness, happiness, confusion, or whatever bothers you. I would say that being able to read yourself and understand your flaws, whether they are in songwriting or in life, in general, will be a positive contribution to one's creations. However, this will come in time and I need to practice a whole lot! Perhaps one day I can write a song about how I changed my life for the better.

@Belladonna, you are completely right and have given me some useful tips! It is a great thing to be able to "borrow" ideas from other places and recreate them in your own way! Particularly when you connect with a song/novel. I think that these days the internet is full of stories that I can connect to and can help my creative juices flow! smile

Edited by camp_band (03/12/18 02:44 AM)

#461767 - 03/12/18 06:27 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Janice & Bud Offline

Registered: 12/05/11
Posts: 6095
Janice and I are mountain bikers. We enjoy demanding tough trails that require a lot of aerobic and anaerobic output. It sounds counter intuitive but often there is a zen like aspect of intense exercise on a bike. You are totally focused on the trail but somehow you are set free. It is this point that a lyric idea will often come to me. If it seems to be a really good idea (and I’m not racing smile ) I’ll slow long enough to tell Siri to make a note.

Otherwise I’ll occasionally hear a phrase watching a movie or conversing with someone that seems to stick. I’ve never just sat down to write a song sans an idea. I’m neither that creative or prolific.

I have a friend on this forum who will tell me that “the song truck backed up this weekend and dumped a load in my lap.” And they are invariably great. I wish!

Never grow's a trap.
Our 2018 album release
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J&B Website

#461772 - 03/12/18 07:36 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Guitarhacker Offline

Registered: 04/03/09
Posts: 5793
Where does inspiration come from?

Mostly life and watching people go through things. Sometimes just a thought, or listening to something someone says.

Here's a list of my recent songs and how they came to be

Crystal Clear: True love and how it affects someone.

That's How The Story Ends: I heard another writer's song here and it inspired a slightly different direction on the topic.

One More Time: wrote this from a listing for music needed by a film. Missed the deadline.

Nowhere Left To Turn: A friend who I have played with in a few bands back in the day finds himself homeless and broke at the age of 64 and there's not too many options for him.

On The Road: just a fun run at fantasy throwing adult responsibility out the window.

Whiskey For Breakfast: Inspired by the lyrics a writer here sent. Wrote it to be about war and conflict and the fallout in the lives of the folks involved.

That's just a start. Look around you and write about what you see. The more you write the better you get.

Edited by Guitarhacker (03/12/18 07:36 AM)
You can find my music at:

Add nothing that adds nothing to the music

#461869 - 03/13/18 01:26 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
camp_band Offline

Registered: 02/20/18
Posts: 16
That's an interesting approach @Janice&Bud. I should try it sometime, activity helps to clear one's mind for sure! When I have something on my mind I always go for a walk or take my bike and just drive around but I haven't thought about doing it for inspiration.
@Guitarhacker those are some nice titles. How do you usually come with the title? Do you write the song first or brainstorm on the idea, come up with the title and then the song?

#461890 - 03/13/18 05:27 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
rockstar_not Offline

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7446
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
If you are not already inspired to write songs then let me suggest that maybe songwriting is not something that suits your personality. Most of the songwriters I know have too much inspiration to keep up with it in actual writing. I will say that being creative in any art takes practice and discipline. You can even see this in Jackson Pollock’s paintings. It is a chicken or egg situation. You do have to try it for a bit before deciding you want to dive in and study the craft. Find a local songwriters group and join in. Participate n FEbruary Album Writing Month 2019. Take a look around the room you are in and pick out one object or other person, and think of three slightly obtuse characteristics about that object or person you would describe in slightly obtuse terms. In other words try to avoid being absolutely direct in your descriptions. Don’t say: the cover of the book is red. Rather: whether it preferred to be green or blue, someone chose scarlet for its hue. Practice that kind of storytelling where you come to the description from a side road instead of the main highway.

#461932 - 03/13/18 09:59 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: rockstar_not]
cliftond Offline

Registered: 12/23/17
Posts: 392
Loc: Alabama
You know, i jjust let it flow, with no idea usually where it is going. I just start singing with guitar and writing the words, of course, there is the scratching out process, and rewriting.

#462045 - 03/13/18 09:50 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
Sundance Offline

Registered: 05/30/08
Posts: 4220
All the above posters make some good points. Keeping your idea antennae up is a skill that just takes practice.

The most important thing to remember about inspiration is that there is next to nothing that hasn't already been written about in a song. I find that fascinating and freeing in one way and quite a challenge in another.
My version of BE MY BABY
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#462046 - 03/13/18 10:16 PM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
John G Allen Offline

Registered: 01/01/16
Posts: 3
Loc: North Padre Island, Texas, USA
Where do you get your song writing inspiration? … Now there is a question I am often asked, and I have always thought, you can give a 10-second answer or one that takes a day. It is almost impossible to describe the creative process to a non-creative person. As for the creative ones, we have a language and some shared insights, but we will still create from our own perspective. Moreover, we should, because that is what makes the product unique.

For myself, I usually write from the perspective of a character. If I may explain – In my early years I was an actor in New York City and Los Angeles. When I stood in the wings, waiting for my cue to walk on stage, or film set, I was inside my head steeping myself in back-story. Who is my character and what is the period? How am I dressed? Is it raining or cold, am I laughing or sad, and what do I see as I look around. (No, not myself looking at the stage, the curtains, the lights), but what the character in the production is seeing.

I write stories and songs almost the same way. I see a drunk in a bar and I wonder, who is he? what is his story? I see a soldier kissing his wife and kids at the arrival gate in an airport - Who is he? is he home from war? what are his experiences, how will he adjust to being home? I see a young woman standing in the rain on a hilltop, or an old woman pushing all of her belongings in a shopping cart... Who are they? what is their story?

Believe me, that was the SHORT answer !

An example of writing a song from seeing a man drunk in a bar is in my song, ‘Going Down Hard’, posted somewhere on this site.
No set genre. I write Western, Civil War/Historical, Southern Swamp Rock, Blues, Doo-[*****] and the usual ‘love lost – love misplaced’ songs. I also write many non-PC parodies. Apart from the serious and sad, it is nice to make people laugh.

#462223 - 03/15/18 12:18 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
JoanneCooper Offline

Registered: 05/12/12
Posts: 2371
Loc: South Africa
A good way to practice these techniques is to take an existing song and try and write your own lyrics over it. And then take an existing lyric of another song and try and write your own music.

Note; I said PRACTICE, you would obviously not record, release or perform these. Imagine how much your songwriting would improve if you did these exercises every day?

#462267 - 03/15/18 07:15 AM [Songwriting] Re: Inspiration [Re: camp_band]
David Snyder Online   happy

Registered: 08/29/14
Posts: 4187
Loc: North Carolina

I have some thoughts on this.

1.) Inspired energy. Inspire means "to breathe life into" so "Inspired" literally means "to have live breathed into." I have found that with 100% accuracy you most often have life "breathed" into you when you help out other people, or encourage and inspire them--say something nice. That energy comes back you. The more you encourage and inspire others the more inspired you will get. You will never be inspired if you don't. You will only be isolated, empty and flat--and that's the way your songs will sound.

2.) You have to listen to A LOT of other people's stuff. One goldmine I have found is BIAB demos for styles. Every day for the last four years I have listened to 2 or 2 of those demos and found chord progression ideas I liked. Now I have several thousand arranged in folders in every genre. So if a sync licensing company says "Can you crank out a song in this style in 24 hours" I can say--"No, I can do it in 20 minutes."

3.) Write lyrics all the time. I use my phone to record both audio and voice to text files of every chorus, hook, or verse idea I can think of. I also use Evernote because it syncs up with everything.

I have hundreds of chorus ideas in a chorus folder because I think choruses are the heart of a song. I don't always know what to do with choruses on the spot, but if I think of one I write it down immediately and file it in a special folder. Then weeks later, after it has had time to "stew"--the song almost always pops out. Okay, I have been simmering long enough! I am ready now!!

4. Electronic post its. Microsoft has electronic post it notes. I keep it open all the time so if I think of something while I am doing something else I can put a verse line or idea on an electronic post it. Then at the end of the day, I transfer all those post it notes to a Word document. Then if I want to know "What was that line I had about heart at the end of the road?" I just do a search in word and there it is!

5. Use Audio chord Wizard. If I ever hear a song I like in my collection, and I am fascinated by the chord progression, I am never content to just wonder how they did it. I load it into BIAB audio chord wizard and check it out...Oh, so that's how they did it huh.

Those are the main ingredients of my process. Oh there are 2 more:

6. Carry a notepad where ever you go and write down what people say in malls, churches, bars, restaurants, on the street. Human beings are a gold mine for song lyrics.

7. Read A LOT of books. Every novel has about 400 song titles or choruses in it so far as I can tell.

P.S. I just wrote on a sticky:

Neighbors at her feet
Wonder if she'll find them
something good to eat

Do you think it has a chance?? Does anyone hear a melody???

David Snyder
Audiophile Everything + Studio + Instruments + Fingers


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