Getting the Most out of Song Prompts

By:

Sarah Spencer

How to get the most out of song prompts.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to write but just didn’t have any idea what to write about.

My hand is raised, and I’m thinking yours is, too!

We all have days where we’re scratching our heads wondering, “What the heck should I write about?”

Song prompts are wonderful little tools to help us on those days.

Here are some ways that you can make the most out of your next song prompt inspired writing session:

Getting the most out of songwriting prompts: Freewrite first.

1. Freewrite first. 

Freewriting loosens us up. It gets our energy flowing. So it makes a wonderful “start here” step.

Songwriting, distilled waaaay way down, is the act of taking something from inside of you and bringing it out into the world. And freewriting does exactly that.

Freewriting on the prompt gets you in the headspace for writing.

Even if all you do is scribble “na na na” and loopy lines for the first few minutes. Loosen up your hand and your heart.

The trick is to let it pour out. Don’t censor yourself. You can’t say anything wrong or do it incorrectly.

Imagine you’re a faucet: first a trickle, and opening more and more until a steady stream of words is appearing on the page.

Again, fight any urge to censor yourself. What you freewrite doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to rhyme. Just get your thoughts down. All of them.

It will help you create a ton of raw material to pull from. Aim to freewrite for at least 10 minutes before you start songwriting to get the wheels turning.

Getting the most out of songwriting prompts: Write quickly.

2. Write quickly.

If you’re turning to a prompt because you feel stuck, then this is for you.

Writing quickly can help us move swiftly past the barriers that have been keeping us from writing.

  • Got nothing good to say? Oops, you’re writing too fast to judge!
  • Writer’s block? Oh, can’t see it, you’re writing too quickly!
  • Perfectionistic inner voice? Oop, can’t hear it! You’re writing too fast!

Quick writing can help you to steamroll right over those thoughts of “This is no good, I’m no good, I’m just not gonna write today.” It’s a perfectionism killer and an inner critic silencer!

Getting the most out of songwriting prompts: Play now, edit later.

3. Write first, edit later.

Gonna tell you right now, bby. Relax your shoulders. Unclench your jaw. And remove the pressure of writing a perfect song on your first go.

It doesn’t have to be that way! A smart person once told me “Pressure makes diamonds. Not artists.” She’s SO RIGHT.

This is a time for play. Experimentation. Trying things out to see where they go.

So allow yourself the grace to just freely write, without the expectation of writing a great song in your first go.

You can totally treat it as a draft. And then, if you like what you’ve written, you can come back to it and make it even better.

(if you’re a Song Club member, your Club friends can help you with thoughtful feedback on your draft song. We got your back!)

Getting the most out of songwriting prompts: Follow the song.

4. Read the directions, follow the song.

So each prompt you use here on SongFancy or in Song Club or during the 5 in 5 Song Challenge comes with a set of directions.

While these directions well help you get started, you do not have to follow them to a T in order to “win.”

Seriously!

The whole point of song prompts is to help you get to a song.

So if you followed the followed the directions and and arrived at a song? Well done!

If you started there then had a really exciting idea that too you totally out in left field and you abandoned the song prompt entirely and finished a song that you love? WELL DONE.

Use the prompt as a handrail to get you moving. But if you find a complete different idea that’s off the prompt’s path, follow your idea! You are always well within your rights to do your own thing. ✨

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Infographic: Getting the Most out of Songwriting Prompts, from SongFancy. 

1. Freewrite first. 

2. Write quickly.

3. Play now, edit later.

4. Follow the song, not the prompt.

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Sarah Spencer

Sarah Spencer is an award winning singer/songwriter based in Nashville, TN.

Born in the Sunshine State, Sarah Spencer writes vibrant, shining americana/pop music. She works in Nashville TN as a singer/songwriter, as well as a UX designer for a marketing firm.

Follow Sarah on Spotify to get her latest releases.

You can jump on her email list at SarahSpencer.com or purchase her debut EP, "Freshman Year" on iTunes.