Inspiration is a funny thing for a songwriter. Sometimes it feels like it is taking a lifetime, and your patiently waiting to be inspired again… to be able to write and create a new song. You know… that thing you were “born to do?” But you get stuck in a rut where your life is uneventful and things start to feel monotonous. This wears down your creativity levels and next thing you know you are in a funk and you don’t even pick up your guitar, piano, banjo, harmonica, cigar box (whatever it is you use) for anywhere from a week to months. I have been there.
Then there is those times when you are super inspired. Like you just caught lightning in a bottle and your creativity is mega charged. During these times you are full of new and awe-inspiring ideas. You can’t get enough. Like a junkie on a 3 day binge. <- That was a terrible analogy I know but you get the idea. These are my favorite moments. I love taking an idea for a song and watching it grow and take on a life of its own. I know several artists, myself included, who view the songs they create as their babies and it really is like watching your child grow up before your eyes.
Currently I’m in the latter group. That’s not to say I didn’t struggle to get to it though. I went from November to Middle of April with only writing 3 songs (well 3 worth a damn) in that whole time span. I have wrote 7 decent songs since Tuesday and its now Friday. I say decent because I haven’t gone back and worked on them and perfected them yet. I usually let a song simmer a week or so after I initially write it and then go back over it and make changes that improve it. (I’ll cover more on my writing process later.)
I feel like the trick to get through the dry spells of inspiration isn’t to just sit around and wait for the next “Great Idea” to hit. You have to work on it. . A little science for you: Your ideas come from your brain(shocking I know), your brain is a muscle, and muscles must be exercised. I’m sure your thinking (or not just go with it) “but how do I exercise my brain? It is inside my head.” The answer is simple: You write something, anything … Every. Single. Day. It’s like when a baseball player has a bad day at the plate. They may strike out at every at-bat but you don’t see them sitting out the rest of the game until they feel they are ready to hit again. They go and work on it in the cages. In order to prepare yourself for the times when you are flooded with ideas you have to make yourself write, and it may be crap, I can promise I have hundreds of less than subpar scribbles in I don’t know how many notebooks. You have to force yourself to sit down with whatever instrument you play (or have someone else play) and just throw whatever is in your head out there. Write it down, make a work tape of it, or record with the voice memo app on your smart phone (this is my favorite thing to use.) It may sound like crap but who knows when the muse comes back around you can look back and listen to what you have and it could wind up working its way into a newer, better version of itself .
“But where do I get ideas to write about during a dry-spell?” Glad you asked. I find watching movies, taking a walk, listening to other artist that you don’t normally listen to, going to a bar, getting drunk (yes you read that right.) I said get drunk. Ernest Hemmingway said “Write drunk, edit sober.” Actually that was Peter De Vries who said that in his novel “Ruben, Ruben” (look it up you’ll see I’m right) I like to remind myself of this and it has become quite a mantra for me. Geez, that made me sound like an alcoholic. I’m not. I promise. Point is; don’t sit at home and wallow in self-pity that you aren’t able to magically pick up a pen and have the best thing anyone has ever heard come flowing out. If it does then kudos to you! You are the exception to the rule.


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