Even the most seasoned songwriters among us hit a wall from time to time. We might just call it a good, old-fashioned case of writer’s block – or maybe we’re consistently writing, but we feel we’ve hit a plateau as far as creativity and inspiration are concerned.
For whatever reason, the next time you feel the need to mix things up a bit, consider incorporating one of these unusual ideas into your songwriting process.
Write your song in a different order.
When we sit down to write a new song, most of us consistently start with the same component – perhaps an interesting chord progression we’ve stumbled upon, or maybe a new lyric that recently popped into our heads. The next time you write, through, consider changing the process by starting with a component that you don’t usually choose first – whether that be the melody, harmony, lyrics, rhythm or structure.
Try a new (for you) topic.
Yes, of course, we all like to think that each song we write is completely different from the next – but the truth is that most of us stick to the same handful of themes and topics (and almost all of us have written a love song at some point.) If you’re at a loss for what else to write about, try one of these compelling themes: surprise, grief, revenge, fear, peace, or forgiveness.
Co-write with the deceased.
Did you know that music published before 1923 isn’t protected by copyright and is instead considered to be in the public domain? This means that it is free for other artists to use. Someone who definitely knew this was Vera Matson. When stumped for a catchy tune, she borrowed one from an old civil war song, “Aura Lee”; the resulting song was “Love Me Tender” – which became a huge hit after being recorded by Elvis Presley.
Switch up your instrumentation.
Timbre can change drastically from instrument to instrument, altering the overall mood of a song. This is why many songs in the same genre have the same instrumentation; however, no songwriter should necessarily feel restricted by that. Instead, feel free to experiment with different instrumentation. If you usually write for the guitar, consider what the same song would sound like on the piano – or the violin, or the saxophone, etc.
Experiment with structure.
You know the tried-and-true formula by heart: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. But what if you stepped out of that structure and tried something more unusual? Sure, you might wind up with something weird and confusing – but you also might wind up with something surprisingly catchy and beautiful (and if nothing else, entirely yours.) Give it a try.