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Category: Songwriting Ideas

How To Maintain The Flow Of Songwriting Ideas

Your goal as a songwriter is to keep your songwriting ideas alive at all times and at the same time, developing ways to capture those ideas at any given opportunity.

With that being said, my advice to you is to never trust your memory. If you do, you’ll lose more ideas than you gain and at the end of the day, your songwriting process is all about maintaining the flow of ideas.

Our brains are amazing things. They can soak up information and store things away however, as we get older, we start to forget. Our internal filing system starts to break down and it seems that we need to let some of the old stuff go so we can let the new stuff in.

Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way calls this concept the filling of the well.

I liken this concept to the syphoning of liquid. Once you get the initial flow established it then becomes constant. By emptying your mind onto paper or playing your ideas onto tape you’re making space for other ideas to come into being. It’s like you’re creating a vacuum for the new ideas to appear out of the ether.

Your ability to create a constant flow is determined by how much you’re able to accept any songwriting idea that appears before you.

Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones said once that he was merely the channel for a song to come into existence.

It’s was like he was the transmitter and through him, the song was able to be received by the listener.

Remember, if at anytime you think of something that could even be minutely used in a song, write it down, record it onto tape or even ring your home phone number and leave the idea on your answering machine (I’ve done that a few times to great effect).

Do anything to keep your songwriting ideas alive. Your future songs depend on it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Tip – Always Be Prepared To Capture Songwriting Ideas

Sometimes songs come from the most amazing places.

I was once asked to facilitate a songwriting workshop with the topic being how to capture songwriting ideas, and in my research for the workshop, one of the questions I asked myself was “where have my songs come from?”

It was one of the first times I really looked at my song archive and traced the origins of my songs in this way and I realised that some of my songs had come from the most unlikely places.

This was most interesting to me.

Doing this research reinforced in me the notion that, as songwriters we have to be prepared to note down everything that is of interest to us because songwriting ideas can come from anywhere.

My research had shown me that I have written songs while sitting in cafes, waiting for and on public transport, having a shower, going for a walk, drinking at the pub and waiting at traffic lights.

I try as much as possible to have my smartphone at hand so I can capture these flashes of inspiration at anytime.

Get into the habit of seeing and experiencing the world as if it’s an infinite songwriting ideas machine.

As a songwriter all you have to do is find your own way to reach out and tap into this amazing resource. Of course doing this takes practice and a willingness to become much more observant and mindful of what’s going on around you.

On a personal note, since making an effort to be more observant and mindful of what happens in my life, I have managed to get more things done and my songwriting output has increased.

Don’t be afraid of what you see and what you feel. Write down your emotions and what your senses are telling you.

Emotions demonstrate to us all what it’s like to be human and embracing what you see, hear and feel on paper will go a long way in developing your own style as a songwriter.

Be brave in the face of the unknown and always be prepared.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

The Importance Of Always Recording Your Songwriting Ideas

As a songwriter, there are going to be times in your career where you’ll be so inspired, writing a complete song from start to finish in one go will seem like the easiest thing in the world.

For the rest of the time however, it’ll seem like that all you’re doing is constantly finding that next songwriting idea.

You don’t necessarily need to have a fully set up home recording studio to capture your ideas (although I do suggest you seriously consider moving in that direction) but having access to some sort of basic audio recording device is essential.

Personally, I always like to give the voice recording function on my smartphone a really good workout.

It never ceases to amaze me though, how many songwriters out there are still relying on their memory alone and not recording their songwriting ideas.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from all of my years of writing songs it’s this… When it comes to your song ideas, never, ever trust your memory.

A good songwriting exercise and an example of how I record my ideas is this…

If you’re like me and writing songs on guitar is your thing, I imagine you try to set aside some time each day to pick up the guitar and play whatever comes to mind.

Next time you do this make sure you have some sort of recording device near by ready to go. When a hint of an idea develops simply press record and commit that idea to “tape” for future reference.

Once the idea is recorded you then have the choice of either developing the idea a bit more or, go on to finding where the next song idea will come from.

The beauty about this exercise is that you’re not under any pressure to remember the little snippets of possibility that you’ve seemingly conjured up from nowhere. It’s all down on “tape” ready to be referenced ion the future.

Just remember, the whole purpose of the exercise is to simply record what comes out of you.

Another thing I like to do while noodling on the guitar is make nonsensical sounds and rhythms with my voice at the same time, singing whatever comes into my head. It’s quite okay to babble rubbish into a voice recorder or smartphone and not feel bad about it.

When I’m lyrically noodling, I take particular interest in the melodies and the rhythms I produce at the time. The lyrics can come later.

When doing this exercise, don’t even look at finish a song, just gather ideas, phrases, riffs and melodies and get them recorded in some way. After a while you’ll develop quite a collection of them.

This will become your comprehensive songwriting ideas archive.

Be warned though, your inner critic is going to have a wonderful time telling you how bad all of your ideas sound and how awful all the lyrics are. You just have to ignore it and look at all of your ideas in your archive as works in progress that aren’t yet completed.

Once you’ve been doing this as consistently as you can for between two weeks to a month, it’s time to listen back on what you’ve done. You’ll be amazed at how many of the songwriting ideas you’ve forgotten.

This is the part of the process always makes me feel like I’m hearing my song ideas for the very first time and it’s from this perspective that my songs get finished.

Just think, with your ever growing list of possible song titles at your disposal and your musical and lyrical noodles committed to “tape,” imagine how many more songs you are going to write and complete.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Songwriting Ideas Are Infinite And Sacred

My first piece of advice that I would give to any beginning songwriter is… “Never throw anything away, EVER!”

Just think, that piece of paper that you’ve thrown in the bin with some half finished lyrics penned the night before might have contained the ideas for THE song that defines you as a performer, artist or songwriter.

All it might’ve needed was a few re-writes either by yourself or, maybe with a collaborator (or two).

As a songwriter you must keep all of your scraps of paper, nonsensical ramblings on your phone and your audio snippets on your computer because songwriting ideas are infinite and sacred all at the same time.

Just hear me out here…

First of all, songwriting ideas are infinite because they are absolutely everywhere. You just have to allow yourself to be open and perceptive to them.

One songwriter may see a falling leaf and not think twice about it while another songwriter may see that same leaf as a metaphor for freedom and write a song about it.

If you take the view that songwriting ideas are infinite then you cease being protective of the songs you have already written. You then allow your songs to truly breathe, and come into being which will then lead to those songs being listened to and performed.

It also stops yourself having the view that everything that you write has to be perfect.

Remember, if you write a song that you are not sure of, don’t throw it away, just leave it and go onto something else because you’ll always think of another songwriting idea (if you allow yourself that is).

Secondly, songwriting ideas are sacred because they come from you and only you.

That alone is a reason to keep everything you write because, when you think about it, throwing away a songwriting idea is throwing away a part of you.

You should always be proud of what you create whether you feel they are good, bad or indifferent.

The good songs are the ones you perform as they are a gift from yourself to yourself.

The not so good songs should be acknowledged as the stepping stones that they are and besides, you can always go back to them later. Maybe with some more life experience under your belt plus a fresher set of eyes and ears (or maybe a collaborator) a song you’ll be proud of, will come from it.

It’s okay to write a song about world peace. It’s okay to write a song about love and it’s also okay to write a song about a falling leaf.

As long as it comes from you that’s all that matters.

Besides, if you allow yourself to be truly receptive of the world around you, you’re never going to run out of songwriting ideas.

Exciting isn’t it?

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Active Listening – A Songwriters Greatest Skill

When we start engaging in a conversation with someone, our minds generally start thinking a few steps ahead and therefore we miss out on the whole experience.

You know, ordinary people really say the most extraordinary things if you just listen out for it.

If we, as songwriters practise the art of actively listening to a conversation then we won’t miss out on anything. I can assure you that you’ll gain many more opportunities for gathering songwriting ideas if you do this.

It’s a known fact that songwriters like Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Paul McCartney cite everyday conversations as the, primary sources of inspiration for some of their most well known songs.

Just think of it, as a songwriter, there’s always an opportunity to gather a new songwriting idea because the art of conversation happens on a day to day basis.

What we must do is learn to actively listen to what people say rather than just hear them and believe me, there is a huge difference between “hearing” and “listening.”

Active listening is, like any other skill, something that has to be practised over and over again because as human beings, listening does not come naturally to us.

To actively listen to someone requires us to be mindful of what we’re doing and to be fully in the moment. It requires us to give 100% of ourselves to the other person.

Active listening in a conversation means not thinking ahead about what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. It’s almost like a form of meditation.

What you’re doing is emptying your mind so it can be filled with the conversation and it’s surroundings.

With active listening there is no doubt, no having to have words repeated back to you because you didn’t hear it the first time. Being in this head-space leaves you open to flashes of inspiration.

Once you become more skilled at this practise you’ll realise that everyone has something important to say.

There are other spin-offs in mastering the art of active listening. You’ll be greatly appreciated by others because you’re someone who really listens and understands them.

We live in a world where we are told time and time again that we have no time for ourselves, anyone or anything. This also means that we don’t take the time out to listen to other people because we are too busy to do so.

Very sad isn’t it?

When you get down to it people want to be happy, loved, validated, acknowledged, appreciated and listened to. Imagine, with your new found active listening skills how much of a breath of fresh air you will be to the people around you?

You will really get to know yourself and others a whole lot more and you’ll also have a constant stream of songwriting ideas at your disposal.

The world is an infinite song ideas machine and you already have the tools to operate it to your advantage.

Your eyes, ears, mouth, brain and heart.

Start really listening to everyone and everything around you today. Your songs will love you for it.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

One Songwriter’s Trash Is Another Songwriter’s Treasure

You would’ve guessed by now through reading my blog that I’m a real fan of the songwriting process and the many ways that a song can be created.

I’m also a great believer in not throwing anything away, no matter how small, bland, banal, silly or trivial you might think your songwriting ideas are.

Now I know of songwriters who, like me, are pretty good at organising their ideas for future reference and that’s a great thing.

However, I know of others who have indiscriminately thrown away reams of paper and piles of notebooks filled with potential song fragments, possible song titles and bits and pieces of hurriedly scribbled phrases and sentences.

This really breaks my heart.

If you’re one of those songwriters who would rather clear the slate than organise your song snippets for later use, listen up, I have a deal for you.

Next time you’re feeling the need to sort out and purge or, if the temptation to chuck away all of your stuff you’ve held on for so long has become far too much to bear… Just give them to me.

That’s right, give them to me. I’ll gladly take your songwriting ideas off your hands and out of your life.

Think of me as a retirement home for all your old song snippets that you feel have stifled your creativity and have gotten you nowhere. I’ll give your stuff a new home and in the process, I might just develop some of them into songs of my own.

But here’s the thing…

Even though I’ll be in possession of your old ideas, I’m still very mindful of where these ideas have come from and will definitely give you credit where credit is due.

So, the deal is…

If I create a song from anything that you’ve sent me, I’ll give you between 10% and 50% songwriting credit depending on how much of your idea I’ve used.

I think that’s a pretty good deal considering you were going to throw them away in the first place.

This is proof of how much value I personally put on songwriting ideas, no matter how large or small they are or, where they came from.

So before you throw your old stuff away and before you succumb to the urge to bin all of your old song fragments, think about my offer. Contact me and we’ll work out how I can offload these ideas from you.

I’m serious.

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

Reading The Newspaper For Songwriting Ideas

If writing lyrics is all about manipulating words onto paper, then to be a good lyricist you would need to develop a very healthy respect for the English language and how it can be put together to tell a story, describe a scene or, to put across a point of view.

It would also be handy to become very mindful of what you read, speak, see and hear around you. This would seem like an easy task as words are all around us yet we don’t really see them do we?

Far too often, we take words for granted.

Actively seeking out words does not mean getting out the dictionary and reading it from cover to cover but it does mean increasing the amount of reading that you currently do now.

If you’re like me, you’d be saying to yourself that you have no time to read. My answer to that excuse is “who says you don’t have time?”

As songwriters, we can’t afford not to have the time to read. We need to slow our lives down a bit so we can pick up on what is happening around us. We might just miss out on a songwriting idea if we don’t.

One of the ways that you can increase the amount of reading with very little effort on your part, is to start having your local newspaper delivered to your door.

At the start of every day, get your newspaper and a cup of your favourite beverage and start reading it, taking note of what you read and the pictures that you see. What you’re doing is looking for something that captures your attention, something that jumps out at you and compels you to write a song about it.

A headline may make a great title for a song, a quote may make a good line for a chorus and an articles theme may make a great song story but a word of warning here, newspapers are notoriously full of bad news so don’t get sucked in by all of the negativity.

You’re looking for songwriting ideas, not an excuse to feel sad.

If you’re one of those songwriters who only writes when they’re feeling angry or passionate about something, then reading a newspaper every morning will be the equivalent to finding a vein of gold for you.

For the rest of us its a good opportunity to just take some quiet time out, grab a notepad and pen and allow the ideas to enter us from the freshly printed pages of your daily newspaper.

Until next time, keep on writing (and reading),

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting

6 Ways You Can Find Songwriting Ideas Everywhere.

I’m a great believer that songwriting ideas are everywhere and all you need to do is to allow yourself to tap into the void and somehow, let the songwriting ideas come to you.

These sentiments are echoed in Erin McAnnally’s wonderful article titled “6 Songwriting Tips for Finding Melodies in the Space Around You” which appeared recently in the songwriting blog SongFancy.

In the article she writes…

There are melodies all around us, even in the silence we may be lucky enough to experience once in a while.It is up to us to harvest them, to memorialize them and to put them to use.

The world and the mind itself can be sources of constant inspiration and provide fruitful and nearly constant ideas if we allow ourselves to listen and create.

Erin then goes on to list the 6 ways that you can find songwriting ideas everywhere around you. Without going into too much detail, they are…

  • Listen to yourself
  • Listen to the world
  • Meditate on a looped track
  • Doodle on your instrument
  • Let words lead you
  • Record everything you find

Essentially what Erin is saying in 6 Songwriting Tips for Finding Melodies in the Space Around You is that you need to stop the world, get off the merry-go-round for a bit and really take the time out to listen to yourself and the world around you.

I also think she’s saying that we also need to be brave enough to walk along paths less travelled and be prepared to experience inconvenient tangents and happy accidents in our quest for new songwriting ideas.

I enjoyed this article very much and found myself nodding my head in agreement while at the same time, feeling vindicated that my views on the infinite and sacred nature of songwriting ideas had resonated with someone else.

What are your views on this matter? Do you think that songwriting ideas reside in the spaces in between and are waiting to be channelled?

Comment below or, let me know what you think. Id love to hear your thoughts

In the meantime, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting


Check out the original link: 6 Songwriting Tips for Finding Melodies in the Space Around You • SongFancy