Songwriting prompts are great tools for songwriters of all levels and backgrounds. If you’re stuck with writer’s block, out of ideas, or just need a place to start, a great songwriting prompt can get you going.
If you’ve been around the ol’ SongFancy block a time or two before, then you know we’re huge proponents of the humble songwriting prompt. Our songwriting challenge, The 5 in 5 Song challenge, is built completely on writing songs to prompts (every day for 5 days)!
If you’ve never written a song before, or if you’ve written hundreds, sometimes all you need is a new approach to get you inspired to write.
So what are songwriting prompts?
Songwriting prompts usually exist in the form of a question, statement, or word that you can use as a starting place for an idea. The sole purpose of a prompt is to invoke a response in the songwriter.
A great songwriting prompt stirs something inside of you and helps you see the outline of a new song before it’s even written.
Why songwriting prompts are useful:
They kickstart your creativity when you’re fresh out of ideas.
You can pull up a songwriting prompt when you’re writing from ZERO and have literally no idea where to start. The idea is in the prompt – start writing!
They make you think outside your normal writing comfort zone.
Oftentimes when you use songwriting prompts, you’ll find that you write songs you never would have otherwise. You’ll use words you’ve never used before, you’ll write about topics you wouldn’t have normally.
They help you create good songwriting habits.
Songwriting prompts make it easy to start a daily writing routine. Pick a prompt every day and go!
They help you grow as a songwriter.
When you write to a songwriting prompt, you’ll find yourself stepping away from over-used clichés and crutches you’ve relied on in the past. Prompts stretch you to work outside of your comfort zone, which is where real growth happens.
They’re just fun!
It’s fun to challenge yourself and write in new ways. Prompts make writing fun, even if you’ve fallen out of love with what you’ve been writing lately.
Tops for how to approach the prompt:
1. Allow yourself to follow a story
When writing to a prompt, you’ll want to approach it with an open headspace: You’re going to want to listen to what the prompt is saying. Listen for what the prompt it telling you, not what you want to hear.
Remember, you’re most likely using a prompt to help you write new songs and to get you out of a rut. Listen to the new stories and themes that the prompt is whispering to you, and expect to leave your old go-to-stories behind.
2. You may write a song you wouldn’t normally write
This is the beauty of writing to prompts: You’re often going to write something you wouldn’t have even thought about had the prompt not encouraged it out of you!
If you usually write about teenage love and you’re thinking a prompt lends itself toward a song about a lonely traveling truck driver, write that! If you have and idea that is out of the ordinary for you, and you’re down to see it through, follow that magic!
3. Look for connections between words
If the prompt isn’t a question or a theme, but perhaps a list of words, look for connections. What words feel like they go together? Are there certain words you can string together in what feels like a chronological way? Do some words feel like family, do others feel like opposites? Try grouping your words into related collections and feel if a story emerges.
Some words will feel like they easily tell a story, while the remaining words will have to be worked in more cleverly. Or, leave the stragglers by the wayside and write the song with the words you want to include!
4. Apply it to your own life experiences
You may find that the prompt isn’t inspiring a cool fictitious story – if that’s the case, try applying it to your own life experiences. Could you tell your own story based on what the prompt is asking? Songwriting can be very cathartic. It’s basically therapy! You may be surprised what you dig up. You may stumble upon a very important song that you’ve needed to write for a long time.
5. Journal first, write second
A good strategy for gathering y9our thoughts around a songwriting prompt is to pull out a notebook and start journaling. Free-write around the prompt. Spend some time with it. Allow your mind to wander. You might even want to set a timer: Give yourself 5-10 minutes to meditate on the prompt and write anything and everything that comes out.
Don’t censor yourself as you free-write. You want to get the raw material out on the page.
Then, when you’ve free-written for long enough, take all that good stuff and start crafting it into a song.
Where to find songwriting prompts
SongFancy has quite a few different ways for you to get your songwriting prompt kick!
The 5/5 is a great way to get your feet wet with songwriting prompts if you’ve never used them before (or if you use them all the time!). It’s our free 5 day songwriting challenge. Basically it works like this:
Every day, I share a new prompt inside our private Facebook group.
The writers in the group all have 1 day to write a song around the prompt.
Then we come back and share/discuss inside the group!
We only do this a couple times a year, so register today to save your spot and get in on the fun! Details and registration here.
SongFancy’s book of immersive songwriting prompts. A gorgeous 80+ page book full of beautifully designed pages and unique songwriting prompts.
The book is designed to inspire all of your senses. From the gorgeous design, full-bleed photography and super unique prompts, this book looks great on your coffee table and will get you excited to write!
I’ve always felt like the best songwriting prompts were emotive. Not just stagnant black text on a white page. Because your songs evoke emotion in the listener, so why shouldn’t prompts evoke emotion in the writer? Order your copy on Amazon.
A package of our famous immersive song prompts from the past few years of 5/5 challenges.
This package includes daily emails so you get a prompt delivered to your inbox every day for 30 days!
I’ve gathered up the best songwriting prompts from the past 2 years of the 5/5 and made them available to everyone. These prompts no longer exist inside the challenge – they’re gone for good, unless you get them here.
Get a prompt emailed to you every day for 30 days, or download them all at once. Details and order here.