Stuck for ideas?

The best policy when having writing as a job is to write every day. Some days this is a joy, others not so much. For those of you that follow my blog, you may remember that I invested in a course a few weeks back, to help me with those more difficult days; the days when your creative side has gone on holiday. The course I’m talking about is called “Success for your songs” and is put together by a man called Anthony Ceseri. http://successforyoursongs.com and today I’m going to share an exercise with you from that course.

 
What feels best for every writer is every time you get a really good idea from out of nowhere that you know you can build a solid song lyric from. The days this doesn’t happen, it is very nice to have a structure as something to fall back on, so that you can methodically work your way to a decent new lyric. I did this exercise the other day and found it an interesting way to work.

 
Step 1. Get Ideas from Other Songs
List three songs with overall ideas or concepts that you like (you can also throw in a movie or book as well). Next to each title, write out the big idea, or overall concept, of that song in a sentence or two. What is each of those songs about?

Once you’ve done that, write out a modification you could make to each of those three ideas, the same way I did in the examples in this Module. For example, you may apply the concept of altered perspective inspiration to the original concepts.

 
One of the songs I chose for this exercise was Anastasia’s “Cowboys and kisses”. I have always loved the lyrics to that song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEWNU3FI4-w . When it comes to an altered perspective to this story, you could write a story from the cowboy’s perspective and how he feels when he leaves the girl for new adventures. Is he feeling free/sad/relieved. Is the relationship starting to feel like a chain around his ankle or is he starting to feel like it’s time to kick off his wondering shoes and make a decent woman out of this girl? There are many different stories that could be born from an altered perspective of this lyric.

 
The story could also be told from the perspective of another man carrying a torch for this woman and looking for ways to make her see him and make her realise that this cowboy never will change. Or, it could be told from the perspective of a girlfriend to this woman, trying to make her see sense and understand that this relationship of hers with the cowboy will never lead anywhere good.

 
As you can see, I have already sorted out a few hours of very productive work for you, and that is only step one of this exercise. After you are happy with the angel of your story of whatever favourite song you have chosen, this is how the exercise continues;

 

Step 2. Find Potential Titles
List three words or phrases off the top of your head that could become a potential song title idea. Don’t think too hard for this part. Almost anything can work here, just keep it simple. For example, “surfaces” or “tire tracks” would be two ideas I could use for this exercise.
Then try to attach emotion and a potential story to these random ideas by asking questions about them. These were the questions I suggested you ask in this Module:
Who sees it/him/her?
Who interacts with it/him/her and in what way?
What emotions does it/he/she make people feel?
What are its/his/her characteristics?
What makes it/him/her unique?
What else has similar characteristics?
When no one else is around, what’s it/he/she doing/thinking?
When people are watching, what is it/he/she doing/thinking?
Come up with a few additional questions that will help you bring to life your simple ideas.

Next, have a conversation with someone, or listen to one (either in person, on TV, or online). Extract three new words or phrases from your conversation that could be used a potential title for a song.

 

Step 3. Plan Out Your Sections
Choose one of the potential titles or ideas you’ve come up with so far, and plan out a song with it. Assume your song will have an ABAB structure. Write down the song sections I’ve listed below, then write down the overall idea for each section to the right of the section name, similar to the example I showed you in this Module.
Overall Song Idea or Title:
Verse 1 Idea:
Chorus Idea:
Verse 2 Idea:
Chorus Idea:

 
Step 4. Create a Character Avatar
Based on the sections you planned out in the previous step, create a character avatar for this story. You can start filling in the information for your avatar that I mentioned in this Module:
Name:
Sex:
Hometown:
Age:
Education:
Occupation:
Annual Salary:
Marital Status:
Kids:
Hobbies/Interests:
Personality Traits:
Lifestyle Traits:

 

Also, add a picture of your avatar. And you can keep adding more information about your avatar if you’d like. You don’t have to stop with the categories I listed above.

 
Finally, allow yourself to actually feel some of the emotions this character may be feeling throughout this song. That will help you decide what the mood of the song should be for your lyrics and music.

 

I feel this is a very good exercise to work through, for as many times as it takes, until this way of working becomes natural. It may be an obvious way to work for a lot of you out there, but if it, like for me, was a new way of tackling the craft of song writing, it will definitely help you to wake your dormant creativity and produce lyrics you might not have thought of without this structure.

 
This example is only a tiny drop in the ocean of what this brilliant course gives you. True value for money in my opinion.
Good luck!

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

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