Songwriting can be a somewhat tricky venture. You’ll often feel the need to come up with something catchy, as well as words that fit well within the rhythm created by the music. But the hardest part of all might be coming up with a subject to write about in the first place.
One thing to focus on that can assist you in the songwriting process is the fact that music is a reflection of human emotion. It’s been that way since the time of classical composers or ancient tribes creating music through drums and simple instruments. That said, turning to your own experiences and feelings is a great start. But then again, just drawing from personal experiences can be difficult for someone who hasn’t done much songwriting.
Here are some places to look for inspiration when writing a song:
1. Everybody hurts. Painful experiences are never fun, but they can make for some great songs. Channeling hurt into music is a formula that has been used by artists since the invention of music, from operas that deal with murder and deceit to modern break-up songs. You can use the writing to help work your way through your emotions, or just reflect on a difficult time to find inspiration.
2. Love. For every song about a painful breakup, there are two or three about finding new love. People like to write songs about what they feel, and there’s nothing better than telling the world that you’re in love. Listeners are fond of love songs too—they’re upbeat, happy and create an instant connection for anyone who’s ever been in love.
3. Look to nature. Writers of all kinds have used the beauty and tranquility of nature to inspire their work, and songwriters are no different. Find a calm place outside and sit quietly with a pen and paper. Don’t even write anything for a few minutes, just enjoy the relaxation and let the words come to you.
4. Become a history buff. Events from the past make a great inspiration for songs, especially when they involve struggle. There are many songs about war or political strife, so tapping into these difficult times can become an inspiration for a song promoting peace or independence.
5. Happy holidays. Whether it’s Christmas or Easter or Halloween, holidays have a built-in music genre with plenty to write about. The great part about this is that the songs don’t have to be too serious, so you get a chance to let your humor shine through.
6. Work sucks. If there’s one constant for all working people, it’s that they’ll complain about their job. It can sound funny and a bit out of place when a multi-million dollar recording artist pens a song about how hard it is working on the factor, but there are many genres that embrace the down-on-their-luck worker toiling away. Just look at any number of country songs.
7. Inspiration itself. People love songs that motivate them, pick them up and remind them that tomorrow is a new day. Just as songs about difficult times and strife are popular, so too are the ones that take a different tack. Try listening to “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor or “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly to get an idea of how these might sound.
8. The creative process. Are you having trouble writing? Write about that. Struggling with becoming a songwriter, the late night gigs with no pay? That makes for a great song too. Remember that before they made it big, every singer or band had to go through the same thing and many of them came up with some great songs about it.
9. Family. Writing about loved ones, especially children, has made for many a hit song. This can be easier too because writing about your love for family comes a lot easier than historical events or heartache.
10. Just make it up. If all else fails and you can’t find inspiration anywhere else, just make something up. Music doesn’t have to be about deep or profound subjects. It doesn’t even need to make sense. Do you think the Beatles really lived on a yellow submarine? As long as it sounds great, just about anything can be the subject of a song.
Tracy Keebler is an avid blogger of music and technology and writes for BearShare, the world’s best file sharing software. You can download free music from Bearshare.com, which has over 15 million songs and videos.