Songwriting Tip: Quick Exercise for Uncovering Interesting, Fresh Hooks

Great hooks are soooooo hard to come by.

Finding an awesome concept for a new song is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Sometimes they just come to you and omg, it’s the best!

Other times, you’re in a cowrite and it’s silent and you’re both just spinning your wheels and then two hours goes by and you’re hangry and just can’t do this anymore.

Save yourself some stress and do this little exercise the night before your next cowrite. Or even better, do it daily! You’ll fill up your hookbook with interesting ideas in no time.

Songwriting Tip: Quick Exercise for Uncovering Interesting, Fresh Hooks



  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Pair of dice
  • The internet (totally optional)

1. Open your notebook to a single sheet. Draw a vertical line all the way down the page.

You’ll want it to look something like this. Lines certainly do not have to be perfect. But if you happen to be a bullet journaler or an expert doodler, jazz that shit up!

2. On the left side of the line, write down random idioms and number them.

Idioms are sayings that most everyone is familiar with. For example, pretty much everyone knows what “burning the candle at both ends” means.

You’ll want to put down at least 12.

This is where the internet comes in handy. I like using these websites when looking up stuff like this:

songwriting tips and techniques

3. On the right side of the line, write in random words and number them.

It’s helpful to pick a certain kind of word – like nouns, for example. Person, place, or thing. Even names and improper nouns are fair game. This isn’t english class. ;)

Again, the internet is a great tool for random word generators. Here are a few:

You should now have 12 nouns on the right, and 12 idioms on the left.

songwriting tips and techniques

4. Roll your die twice!

The first number you roll will be the idiom. The second number you roll will be your noun. For example, in the photos below, I got 4 and 6, so my idiom would be [idiom] and my noun would be [noun].

If you prefer digital di, you can google “Roll a di”.

songwriting tips and techniques - roll a di!

5. Substitute a word in the idiom for your noun.

So [idiom] becomes [idiom + noun]. Totally weird!

Here are some of the hooks I got:

  • 6 + 3 = “Fool’s Land”
  • 3 + 2 = “Backseat Body”

… There may be a bro country song in that second one. Hah!

6. Repeat. :)

You can do this process forever. And ever and ever and ever. Keep rolling until you’ve got some inspiring hooks, then put them in your hookbook for safekeeping.

Got any clunkers you want to share? Let’s laugh together! What weirdness did you come up with? Comment below!


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. You can listen to her music at or purchase her debut EP, "Freshman Year" on iTunes.