We have so much information around us these days yet I still hear so many songwriters complain that they can’t find anything to write about.

The way that I look at it, there’s so many ways in which a songwriter can be inspired that it’s almost impossible to not find anything to write about.

Personally, one of the ways that I’ve found which really gets my creative juices flowing is immersing myself in the many forms of media that I’m exposed to every day, such as newspapers, TV and magazines.

It’s not what type media that has the potential to inspire, but how it’s used and today, I’m talking about books.

Now, I’ll admit it. I don’t read enough. In fact, we as a society don’t read enough and there are many reasons for this but let me tell you, when I start reading a book I start feeling guilty.

It’s very strange I know, but when I read a book I start getting feelings that there’s something else that I could be doing besides taking time out for myself, sitting in a comfortable chair and reading.

This is a great example of my inner critic hard at work.

I was talking to a songwriting friend of mine about this some time ago and he made a suggestion that was remarkable in its simplicity.

He said to me “why don’t you use reading a book as part of your songwriting process.”

I never thought of reading a book in that way but the more we discussed the concept the more excited I became about it. I knew that this was going to open some doors for my own songwriting.

Simply put, use books as a reference library of words, phrases, quotes, statements and sentences that you can use for your songs.

Now, I’m not talking about plagiarism here, just a shifting of your perspective by using other peoples words to form newly created perspectives in your own mind. It’s from these new perspectives that you write your songs from.

I’m going to start experimenting with this technique and here’s what I’ll be doing.

1. I start off with my book, a writing pad plus a highlighter pen (only use the highlighter it if the book is yours).

2. I read one chapter at a time rather than as many pages as I can in one sitting.

3. As I’m reading, any phrase, words or sentence that either jumps out at me or I feel some affinity with, I write it down or highlight with my pen. I then re-read the sentence so I don’t lose track of the story.

4. If there’s a passage that moves me I stop and write down what I’m feeling at the time. Some questions I’d be asking of myself could be:

  • How do I relate to this?
  • Is there a story for a song in this?

5. At the end of the chapter I write a synopsis of it in my journal.

6. If one of my captured lyrical ideas has a melody attached to it, I then get my guitar out and start formulating something with it.

At the moment this experiment is purely theoretical. It is not perfect by any means but if I can read my favourite book and gain songwriting ideas at the same time that’s got to be a good thing.

I’ll let you know how I go with this.

As with any songwriting process, one songwriters way of doing things will be different to another. All I can do is try it out and see what happens.

However, if you have any suggestions on how I can improve this fledgling songwriting technique or, if you want to try this experiment yourself, let me know and we can start comparing notes

I’m excited…

Until next time, keep on writing,

Corey Stewart
All About Songwriting