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20 tips to jumpstart your songwriting

Words by .

If the perfect songwriting conditions could be summed up in a year, 2020 would have represented the downtime of our creative dreams. As we shifted gears into full coastmode on the neverending rollercoaster of free time, our brains may have taken this as a cue to enter full hibernation instead. 


Cheers to guidelines of social distancing, any inspiration fairies who used to visit us on the regular are now lounging in luxury sweatpants too, so it’s up to us now. 


Here’s a big old list to help you get the ball rolling, because I can only do so much. 


*Fuzzy static plays softly in the background of my mind.  


  1. Listen to a song once and then rewrite the lyrics from memory. 
  2. Write the verses of a song like a question and the chorus like it’s the answer to the question.
  3. Write a poem or convert one you love into lyrics.
  4. Try writing to a drum loop or instrument you don’t normally use. 
  5. Write some one-liners and play word jumble to assemble the lyrics.
  6. Pull a Tom Waits and listen to five radios at once to notice any interesting melody and lyric overlaps. His aleatory storm of an album Swordfishtrombones seems like less of an enigma now. 
  7. Go next level Tom Waits cross-platform immersion by listening to the radio while checking TikTok, reading a news column, playing a record and watching a movie etc etc etc.
  8. Collaborate with a songwriting mate, or a rookie for some fresh perspective.
  9. Pick the most annoying song you know and attempt trainwreck those lyrics even more. 
  10. Let google suggestions finish your sentence.
  11. Take a shower because apparently running water helps you relax, daydream and sparks creativity. There’s even a waterproof notepad called AquaNotes in case you have any big idea moments that must be recorded.  
  12. Take out all your random ideas notebooks and read through them.
  13. Add your own verse into songs you love.
  14. Wait out the storm, the ideas will come when they're good and ready. Probably at the most inconvenient time for you. 
  15. Write the title of the song then build the lyrics.
  16. Use some Joni Mitchell clarity and write about your past emotional pains after you reached a moment of clarity so you don't sound like a whiner.
  17. Use a short melody generator or create a sample and then give yourself one minute to write corresponding lyrics.
  18. Neil Young says he’s always got inspiration for lyrics because he never runs out of opinions. Write down your opinions/reactions to world issues and news articles.
  19. Write a letter to someone you admire or hate.
  20. Write for a different music genre.


If you’re making ground on your post-covid hit then keep us in the loop, we’re fangirls for any musicians staying motivated right now. There’s light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully we can get back to some live music soon, where the real inspiration lies! 


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