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Q&A: I Write From Inspiration But Need Discipline

Q&A: I Write From Inspiration But Need Discipline

 

Waiting for inspiration to hit doesn’t always lead to a high volume, or even steady flow, of songs.

We recently got a question in our newsletter survey that resonates with a lot of people who want to write from inspiration.

But if there’s no inspiration that happens, they feel like writer’s block has set it.

 

Q I write from inspiration, which makes my songwriting spotty and not very disciplined. I’d like to have more songs – how do I create a more disciplined songwriting approach?

 

A I had a poetry mentor who always said, “create time for the muse to show up.” I know. It sounds like something a poetry professor would say.

And, at first, I admit, I was a little hum-buggy on the whole concept. Appointments for muses seems a little unicorn-like for this INTP.  I imagine myself just sipping on some butter beer waiting for pixie dust to part the clouds and “Muse” to show up with six pack.

But, he was my mentor, so I tried it.  And, to my surprise it worked sans the six pack.

I “set an appointment” to this day.

So what did he really mean? And how do you make it happen?

Even though you might rely on inspiration, if you develop a discipline around your writing the muse will appear more consistently.

And, you won’t have to abandon inspired ideas that hit you out of the blue.

The key is to not only find ways to casually be inspired, but to have time and space to act on those inspirations as well.

Below are a few ideas.

 

—– CREATE A DISCIPLINE —–

So how do you create a discipline?

1.  Decide on a time of day, and perhaps day of week, you can consistently be present for with no distractions or potential interruptions. And, it doesn’t need to be long. Start with 15 minutes.

Maybe you have 30 minutes before you head off to work, or 20 minutes before you go to bed each night.

Remember, you’re setting an appointment. You’re not trying to complete something.

2.  Make sure you have something to do/create ahead of time. You don’t want to spend 15 minutes staring at a blank page.

The easiest way to get into the rhythm is to do object writing for 10 minutes. Read Object Writing: Quickest Path To Great Lyrics to get the full 411 on object writing and how it helps create songs.

Object writing serves two goals:

– You end up creating a discipline of writing as well as setting an appointment.

– You have ready-made ideas for those instances when you have additional time to work a bit more on a song.

3.  Give yourself the next day’s assignment during the last 2 minutes. For example, if today your object writing was about a chess piece, assign yourself a worn leather baseball tomorrow.

4. Use the 365 Days Of Object Writing worksheet to keep you going for a full year!

5.  And, you can always create songs using other songwriting exercises to give yourself some variety.

6.  The main goal is to create a discipline for the muse to come. Once she starts showing up you’ll be amazed at the ideas and productivity. You may need to extend her visiting hours!

7.  If inspiration does hit, drop your object writing and go with the inspiration.

–  Is one of the ideas you wrote down previously pulling at you? Go ahead and work on it, and get the song going!

–  Did something amazing hit you during your object writing? Abandon and go with the idea.  This is your appointment, so your time to use!

 

—– MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY —–

 

This one is key.  If you create a discipline, but ultimately end up looking at a blank page, you’ll quickly become discouraged.

Here are a few tips to keep a steady flow of ideas at the ready.

 

Observe & Catalogue

Take the pressure off yourself by not trying to write a song.

Put yourself in collection mode.  Just jot down things with no intention of turning them into a song.  Note how you feel about something, or a word you think is funny – and why.

This is sort of journaling “lite” and you’ll be amazed at how it frees you up to become inspired by something as simple as a ladybug on a blade of grass.

 

Keep A Prompt Bank

As you go through your day, there are probably things you see, hear or read that catch your attention. For whatever reason you’re intrigued by them, and give you pause.

My poetry instructor used to also say those things caught your attention because they have a connection to you. It’s your responsibility to find out what that is – through a poem or a song.

Write them down and keep them in a prompt bank. Evernote is a great tool for this. Also jot down the circumstances so you can get back in the moment when you go to use the prompt.

 

Some Image Prompts To Get You Started

Use this gallery to get the inspiration flowing.  I wrote a song from one of the images here (it will be on my album being released this summer)

 

prompt-jana-pochop-dublin
Grady-Doc-Henley-1966-Polaroid
WIN_20171104_09_06_20_Pro
Green Heron capturing frog
tail-feather-photos-hdr-hd-museum-wi-3
texture-sunrise-trees
tail-feather-photos-hdr-harrisons-hollywood-fl-1
okeeffe-jimson-weed-flower-allusion
texas
honky-tonk

 

7 EASY STEPS TO WRITE A SONG
– Pick a photo, preferably one you’re drawn to
– Start writing whatever pops into your head
– Is there a recurring theme in what you just wrote?
– Start there and write a chorus
– So what’s the story that the chorus is commenting on? That’s your first verse.
– What happens next?  That’s your second verse.
– How does it all resolve? That’s your final verse (we’ll worry about bridges later)

Speaking of Evernote, get my 44 Things prompt list.

Have a question?  Let me know!

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