Songwriters of all levels need quality inspiration to write excellent songs. If you’ve been songwriting for a long time, you will inevitably start to fall into patterns in your songwriting if you don’t seek out some fresh perspective. Even if you are brand new to songwriting, you may need help finding a good place to start. Whatever your situation or experience, use these prompts to draw out your artistic voice in a fresh way and help kickstart your next hit song!
Prompt #1: Write a song that incorporates another language or culture
Writing a song directed toward a new audience can be a great way to step out of your comfort zone while writing! And if you have no clue how to do this or speak another language, don’t worry! The point is to get you out of your comfort zone, try something new, and expand your songwriting skills!
Start by diving into listening to another culture’s music! While researching, make sure to take notes on the musical and lyrical choices the artist is making. Listening to lyrics in a foreign language can reveal interesting ways that other artists write lyrically to keep a listener engaged! Listening to instrumental music may inspire new sounds to incorporate into your song.
Remember, referencing music from another culture doesn’t mean you have to lose your sound (aka what makes your music unique to you!). This is just a great place to start! Use these thoughts and see what you think of, both lyrically and musically for your new song.
Prompt #2: Write about a cause you believe in
We believe that there is power in music and that it can be great way to bring awareness to issues we care about and change to our world.
We all have personal stories that are intertwined with others. Along the way, we meet people and encounter situations that tug at our heart strings and make us want to step in and help.
Have you ever been a part of an organization you believed in? Maybe you’ve participated in mission work or been an advocate for a specific group of people. Is there something that you have struggled with and overcome that you would love to share with others so that they can get through it as well?
This song may hurt a little bit to write, but if you can get others to feel the same emotion that you have behind what you’re passionate about you might just stir something in your listener so they go help the cause as well!
“Where Is The Love” by the Black Eyed Peas is a great example of a song with a call to action supporting something which the band cared about.
Prompt #3: Write about a quote
All of us have someone we are inspired by. It might be a family member, a musical artist, author, or activist. Whoever, it is, there are truly brilliant and inspirational souls that impact the music we write.
Think about the most memorable quote from the person who inspires you most. What is the quote? How does that quote make you feel? If appropriate, make the quote itself your song title! Or take an important excerpt from the quote and make that your song title.
Quotes are powerful because they are simple ways of incorporating very meaningful messages. Make that meaningful message what your chorus is all about! Then, support that message with examples or scenarios where it applies in different ways in the verses. Finally, use the bridge to amplify that message!
When people listen to your song, try to make the listeners feel the “heart and soul” of that quote!
Prompt #4: Write about a personal struggle
Slow down and dig deep. Your challenge is to write a song that addresses a question you have either been wrestling with, or one you still do not know the answer to.
Think about some of the life-questions you don’t quite have the answers to yet, a deep theological or philosophical question that you’ve been wrestling with for some time.
What is the reason I was put on this earth?
How do I know what is true and how to find it?
Why am I stuck in this job that I don’t love going to?
Why am I having trouble loving this extremely annoying person I’m around?
A great example of this type of song is “Why God” by Austin French.
Do not be afraid to question. Questions are often how you learn the most. So, let them inspire both your personal growth and the songs you write.
Prompt #5: Write about a life lesson
Reflect on the past few years. Examine the person you have become, and the choices you have made.
Looking back, is there anything you would change?
Reflect on moments of failure, and reflect on moments of success. What advice or words of wisdom would you give younger you? Is there anything they need to know in order to better navigate the next steps of life?
If you want, you can even sit down with a pen and paper, and write a letter to your younger self. The deeper you go in this exercise, the better your song will likely be.
Prompt #6: Write about a TV show, movie, or video game
An underrated way to make money in the music industry is by getting your song placed in a TV show, movie, or video game! This is known as sync licensing. So, if you haven’t already, challenge yourself to write a song that you think could be used for sync.
Find a new movie, TV show, or video game that is releasing within the next few months.
Head over to YouTube and search something along the lines of “new movie trailers,” and find a movie (or a show or a video game) that looks interesting to you! Try to write a song that you think could go over the trailer or pretend that you have to write a song that will play in the end credits (one of the coolest spots for sync placements!).
Not only can this exercise turn into a great song, but it can be great practice for pitching real sync placements in the future!
Prompt #7: Write about a “show” story
Great songs often tell beautiful stories by painting pictures with words. One topic we always teach is “show” and “tell” lyrics.
Tell lyrics are upfront and tell you the story very simply: “It was a sunny day.”
Show lyrics use imagery and language to illustrate an experience to a listener. An example of this is: “The breeze woke me up to an ocean blue sky.” Your challenge is to write a song that uses show lyrics.
Go overboard. Play with the senses. Use those high school creative writing skills!
To test your success, once you’ve finished writing the song, print out your lyrics and hand them to a friend. Give them a few minutes to read them over, and then ask them to tell you about your song.
If you did a good job with your show lyrics, they should be able to tell you a lot of the basic details even without using the “poetic” language that you did!
To learn more about writing lyrics click here.
These prompts will only help you if you use them, so pick the one that resonates with you most, and write a song that truly pours out your heart. Your inspired and genuine songs are what people need and want to hear most!