Has it been a while since you wrote a tune? Many songwriters create a portfolio of music and then “get out there” to perform in public, sometimes forgetting that their talent as a writer is what helped them get out there in the first place. Then their periods of writing seem like some distant, past events that might never repeat themselves…as if the well is dry.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you’ve accomplished something in the past you can do it again in the future, and even better. Take a cue from the self help community, with the number one way to jump start inspiration and create change: do one thing different, each day.
Here are seven great ways to write a new song:
Take a road trip. Go some place new to shake up your senses. For extra credit, get there in a new way (bus, train, Uber…kayak).
Seek out the ordinary with fresh eyes. In honor of Robin Williams (“Oh, Captain, my Captain!”), stand on your desk, climb up on the roof, or just look out the tailgate of your car. Bike where you have driven or walk where you have biked, or even sit where you have walked, and be present.
Write music on a different instrument. Move from guitar to ukulele or keys. Try to write a song on an instrument you have never played before. For the more eccentric, follow Ian Anderson’s advice and try writing a song with a blade of grass.
Listen to life’s orchestra. The computer, the fridge, and a ceiling fan all have rhythms and tones. And the sonic rush of vehicles passing and engines humming and people talking or laughing – tune in.
Follow your dreams. Keep a notepad (or recorder) by the bedside and jot down anything you remember. If you want to rev up the imagery, you can induce a “REM Rebound.” Basically, just deprive yourself of sleep for a night or two (when you can afford to do this) and watch how rapid and vivid your dreams come when you finally do crash.
Be derivative. It’s been said that Paul Simon would sometimes walk around his apartment, barefoot, with headphones (and Walkman?), listening to someone else’s songs while singing a new song into a recorder. He’s no thief, but he has used some of those existing rhythms and harmonized with the existing melodies to create new tunes.
Be prolific. Write a new song…every day. Force yourself. Don’t censor or judge your material. There will be plenty of time to separate the wheat from the chaff later. Just do it, every day, and see what happens.
For a bonus method, turn off all of your technologies and unplug from civilization for a while too. Yes, become an Amish hermit. All of your senses will thank you for the break.
And for one final bonus, pay attention to the environments where song writing comes easiest to you. Pay attention to the moods you are in when most prolific. Recreate those conditions often and have a recorder standing by. Your next album might depend upon it.