Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
It can be tough, especially during the holidays, to get the ambition to write your next song. There’s lots to inspire you (love, friendship, a wish for peace, etc.), but holidays have a way of disrupting your normal writing schedule. If you feel that you should be writing something, but can’t summon up your next song, here are some ideas for keeping the creative juices flowing.
- Take the pressure off to write a full song, and engage in some songwriting “games”: Set the timer for a ridiculously short period of time, like two minutes, and see if you can come up with a verse and chorus (with bonus points if you actually manage a lyric to go with it!) Once you’re done, reset the timer and go at it again. Most of what you’ll write will be… rough. But some of it you’ll find to be useful, so don’t throw anything out.
- Write a list of words that are emotive in nature (love, warm, touch, feel, eyes, etc.) Then set the timer for five minutes and see if you can write a short lyric that can use as many of the words as possible. Extra points for rhyming.
- Compose a short five – ten note melodic fragment, with a chord progression to accompany it. Then try inverting the melodic shape using the same progression. For example, if the idea you come up with starts on a note, slowly rises upward, and finishes with a leap downward, try a line that descends slowly by step and finishes with a leap upward.
- Compose a five – ten chord progression. Then, using the suggestions for chord substitutions shown here, try substituting several of the chords to come up with a similar-but-different progression.
- Choose at least five of your favourite songs and figure out the formal design, using letters to signify each part of the form. For example, the Star Spangled Banner is: AABC. (Read this free songwriting lesson if you need a refresher in how this works).
The great thing about these little “games” is that you can do them with a songwriting partner, and it can actually be a lot of fun. The purpose of this sort of pastime is to take the pressure off of you for writing a complete song, but still allows you to stimulate your creative mind. Not only can it be fun, but you’ll find that some of what you come up with can be used in a future song. So as I mentioned earlier, don’t throw anything out. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself!
Discover the real secrets of songwriting by checking out Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books. They’ll show you how good melodies work, and how lyrics, harmonies and form all work together. Hundreds of pages of instruction, with hundreds of chord progressions you can use right now. Click here to get started!