Ever been writing and find yourself frozen with indecision?
It’s easily done. But writer’s block is also easily avoided. For one thing, it’s important just to let your writing flow. But before that, it’s important to plan your song.
I like to brainstorm ideas and draw a mind map of words, phrases and their associations. The associations are particularly important because this is what will lead a song will stand out. For example, a very common song theme is love – what do you associate with that? Red, hearts and excitement to quickly name something off the top of my head. Now go further – what do you associate with those things? Grab a pen and paper and draw it out, something like this (awful handwriting optional!):
Now all of a sudden we have some strong words and/or ideas to use and develop. ‘Heartbeat’ is about as cliché as it gets, but what about heart blood? Combine them into a single, new word and there’s a strong title – Heartblood. Otherwise ‘heart blood’ is a strong image that might feature in a line or two.
To demonstrate my point here I’ve committed a cardinal sin – I’ve started writing before I’ve really planned anything. If I dive into writing titles and lyrics with just those few words and ideas, I’m going to run into what I think of the opposite of a dead end (a living end?) – there are just too many possibilities and choosing from them becomes overwhelming.
But that little brainstorm took about a minute and led to one idea straight away, helping me choose one of those possibilities. I’m not saying it’s a good idea, but it’s a starting point for something. What really needs to happen is to keep that brainstorm going:
- Expand on associations of the other words such as ‘attack,’
- Explore opposites of the theme
- Look up quotes about the theme
- There are loads of great websites full of literary and pop culture quotes.
- Try and be specific – quotes about lost love, for example.
- Write down any clichés you can find or think of and look for ways to alter them.
Fill a sheet or three with these ideas. I find that the shape of a song can start to change as you go through this process. Make sure you let it and don’t start writing until you’ve got a load of material to work from.
Even then, make sure you outline your song before you start actually writing – more on this next time!