5 Songwriters’ Ideas For Getting Through the Next Few Months

The festive season will inspire you as a songwriter, but what do you do during the non-festive months?


Download “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle, and increase your song’s HIT potential.

Music teacher and studentThere’s an 80-20 rule that applies to songwriting. Well, who knows the exact percentages, but suffice it to say: 20% of the music you write comes from inspiration, and 80% of it comes from your knowledge of how to properly structure music. This is a combination of good news and bad news. The good news is that it doesn’t take much inspiration to create great music. The bad news is that you can come up with some great ideas, but it usually takes experience and understanding of how good music works to meld those ideas into a great song.

I mention this because many of you are just finishing up what I hope has been a restful and pleasant holiday time with family and friends. Christmas, Hanukah, and other religious celebrations can stimulate the creative mind within each of us, making it seem easier than usual to generate songwriting ideas.

But now we head into January and February. What are you going to do to keep the songwriting stamina strong?

Here are some ideas that will help:

  1. Read all you can about songwriting. The January – March period is a great time to study the topic of musical composition. Since your greatest successes as a songwriter will come from your ability to structure music properly, consider doing a bit more studying of the topic than you normally do.
  2. Involve yourself in other artistic activities. It’s easy to get a bit near-sighted as a songwriter, and forget that there are many other artistic things you could be doing. So January might be a good time to take your artistic abilities in a new and different direction. Perhaps try painting, sculpture, dance, wood-carving… anything that allows you to express yourself in a different way. You’ll likely find that your songwriting will improve because of it.
  3. Try some songwriting “games.” Instead of always trying to write complete songs, take the pressure off and distract yourself with some songwriting games. Read this article for some fun examples.
  4. Take lessons on a musical instrument. Many of the musical ideas you generate start with the instrument you play. But if your performance abilities are a bit weak, you could be unwittingly diminishing your chances of writing great tunes. So why not take those guitar, voice or piano lessons you’ve been talking about? As your performance abilities improve, so will your songwriting ideas.
  5. Volunteer at a local school. Music teachers in public schools are often challenged to serve the complete musical needs of all their students. Many would appreciate the help of another good musician every once in a while. Some ideas: i- volunteer to play in the pit orchestra for the school’s musical; ii- Give a songwriting workshop; iii- give a clinic for your instrument.
I especially like the volunteering suggestion. Why? Because it gets me to another important 80-20 rule: We tend to remember 20% of what we’re taught, and 80% of what we teach. So you’ll find that the more you teach, the better you become.


Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
Follow Gary on Twitter Purchase “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6 e-book bundle

PURCHASE and DOWNLOAD the e-books for  your laptop/desktop


Posted in songwriting and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. Honestly i think that percentage of 80 20 is completely wrong there is no way its only 20 percent inspiration is the main thing in music and to say its all about talent is completely wrong kids that suck somehow are on the radio because everyone likes there inspiration and being a song writer myself i know inspiration takes over at least close to equal amount of the writing process but thats just in my opinion i think without inspiration you have nothing and its the most important thing to me

    • This area of inspiration in the arts is something I’ve been doing a fair bit of research into lately, as part of a book proposal. As part of my work I’ve been compiling a list of quotes from composers, as well as creators in other art forms. I’ve yet to come across anyone, from songwriters to famous classical composers, who give much more than a passing nod to the importance of inspiration. It may be a disagreement with what actually counts as inspiration. For example, someone may consider that once an initial idea presents itself (i.e., the moment of inspiration), whatever happens to that idea after that really falls under the “craft” designation, and not so much under “inspiration.” Others (and I assume you would be in this category) would say that anything you do with those initial musical ideas would be the result of further inspiration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.