Looking for songwriting inspiration? Here are some tips to bring out your genius.
Your brain on music
We normally feel like we are most creative and making progress when we are concentrating and working on the task at hand. Things like focus, concentration and stress produce beta “wakeful” brain waves. These are the opposite of what happens when you are dreaming – your mind is alert and processing information at a rapid rate. This mental heavy lifting is being done by your conscious mind so you are aware of it, and it feels as though that song is slowly taking shape through all the hard work you are putting into it.
It turns out that your conscious mind may not be the best tool for creative tasks, like songwriting. Underneath it all, your unconscious mind is constantly absorbing and processing hours-long reels of information waiting to be called on by the conscious mind.
When your conscious mind connects fully with the unconscious mind in a moment of creativity it is often called an “epiphany.” Though your brain might have been working on a chord progression in the background for years, you might not realize it until it bubbles up into consciousness.
Epiphanies tend to come during alpha brain wave breaks from heavy beta brain wave activities. Activities that could be called alpha breaks include relaxing listening to music, reading poetry, meditating or just watching the wind in the trees. Make sure you take these breaks regularily and you’ll find songwriting inspiration will sometimes seem to come out of nowhere.
Reading about Creative Struggle
Another block for creativity is low self-esteem or fear of failure. Most people don’t realize how hard songwriting is until they try it, so they feel like giving up when it goes slowly and this just makes it harder to be creative. It will help you to know that most artists struggle with these feelings sometimes and it’s not just you.
Here are a few quotes by famous songwriters:
“I’m writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I’m not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is.”
“Committed to page, I write a rhyme/ Sometimes won’t finish for days/ Scrutinize my literature, from the large to the miniature/ I mathematically administer/ Subtract the wack/ Selector, wheel it back,”
“I don’t think you can ever do your best. Doing your best is a process of trying to do your best.”
If you are looking for songwriting inspiration take a break from those beta waves, and remember that most songwriters find as hard to write a great song as you do!