There is an expression that I keep on the front burner of my creative mind anytime I feel less than excited about writing music:
Inspiration doesn’t create music; music creates inspiration.
That’s not just a catchy phrase to me; I really believe that. The opposite, by the way, can be the case as well. But more often than not, if you start your songwriting process with a shot of inspiration, you’ll find that the original source of that inspiration fades quickly, hopefully replaced by a more long-lasting form that comes from the act of writing.
But how do you get excited to write music when you’re feeling anything but creative?
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Most songwriters can manage to conjure up even a small snippet of music, even if they’re going through a creative block. From that one snippet, if you can manage to build it into something even a little longer, you will feel a small moment of musical excitement: something is working!
Often, even if you can’t think up anything to make that snippet longer, you can simply repeat it, maybe with a different chord underneath, and you’ve got something twice as long. Think of practically any successful song chorus, and you’ll see what I mean: they very often consist of a short musical phrase, repeated with the same or different chords underneath (like the chorus of P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), by Michael Jackson.)
Each time you add to your fragment of music, you feel that little shot of musical success: musical excitement. That excitement is generally known by a familiar name: inspiration. And the source of that inspiration is your own work.
The benefit of inspiration that comes from your own songwriting process is that it is self-fueling. As long as you keep writing, you should reap the benefits.
Remember, though, that from time to time inspiration can let us down and be hard to find. Everyone has a limit; you need to find time now and then to allow your creative mind to rest.
Then, like holding a small flame to paper, the fire can get going again. It doesn’t take much to feel inspired. But it does take something: your commitment to daily writing.
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