Inspiration is for Amateurs

The Creative Process

Inspiration is for Amateurs

So you’ve decided to take the leap and become a songwriter.

Before we get to the words and notes we might write and sing, let’s think a little about the creative process in broad terms.

Some songwriters talk about: channelling songs from somewhere else; spirituality; inspiration.

"When I write a song it starts with a feeling. I can hear something in my head or feel it in my heart. It may be that I just picked up the guitar and mindlessly started playing. That's the way a lot of songs begin. When you do that, you are not thinking. Thinking is the worst thing for writing a song... Now is the time to get to know the song, not change it before you even know it. It is like a wild animal; a living thing. Be careful not to scare it away."

Neil Young (singer / songwriter)

Some songwriters talk about: work; routines; techniques.

"Inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. I go into my office every day and I work. Whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant."

Neil Cave (singer / songwriter / writer)

There's certainly a truth in both approaches, but most of us will probably hover somewhere between these two extremes, drifting a little further one way or the other depending on how we’re feeling that day.

The truth is this: you won’t always feel inspired. This is OK! More often, in fact, writing a song will feel like work. But this is a good thing. Songwriting - like any other skill - requires discipline and application, and there are always other things you can be doing in these moments to develop existing ideas. This might stimulate a change in direction or just get the creative juices flowing again. If your brain is engaged in the mechanisms of problem solving then stuff is happening. You just have to learn to trust the process.