What No One Tells You About Inspiration

What No One Tells You About Inspiration - SongFancy, songwriting tips and inspiration for the contemporary lady singer songwriter

This post has been completely re-written! It was originally posted in September of 2016, and OH BOY do I have new things to say about songwriting inspiration. Read on to get the new new!


Inspiration gets a bad rep.

For songwriter and creatives, it can feel like this ephemeral, amorphous being that will not come when called. Kind of like a cat. She’s on her own schedule. You’re completely at the the whim of it.

For non-creatives, it can seem like a convenient excuse for lazy artists. The perfect scapegoat for being unproductive. “Oh, you wanted that song written two weeks ago? Sorry, I just haven’t been inspired. Can’t force it!”

What an ugly stereo type for songwriting inspiration – something we love and rely on!

But did some of this resonate with you?

You’re at the whim of it

You can’t force it

Will not come when called

Oof. Too real.

But truth and stereotypes aside, there’s a lesser known aspect about inspiration that never gets talked about. And it’s a game changer.

Ready for this?

Ok, here it is:

Waiting around to “get inspired to write a song” instead of actually writing a song is not going to get you anywhere.

ONE MORE TIME FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK

Waiting around to “get inspired to write a song” instead of actually writing a song is not going to get you anywhere.

Wait, you have to write songs to get inspired to write songs? What?

Yes. One hundred percent YES.

Isn’t this great news?? I’m obsessed with this because it’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten.

Once I stopped waiting for inspiration to strike and just started writing, I saw a huge change in my songwriting:

  • I wrote all the time, when I wanted to
  • I started to become a better writer
  • I shared ideas in co-writes that my co-writers loved
  • All because I stopped waiting around for inspiration to strike.

When you think about your relationship with inspiration, what does it feel like? Let’s take a look at what a lot of songwriters go through when they start a new song:

Waiting around to “get inspired to write a song” instead of actually writing a song is not going to get you anywhere. On SongFancy.com

1. Inspiration can feel like lightening in a bottle.

We tend to think of inspiration as an elusive, mystical resource that dances around our heads, glittering above us in the atmosphere, until it decides to dip down and endow us with a halo of great ideas.

It’s in these rare and magical moments that we’re struck with an amazing concept for a song, and holy shit, you have to get it down. RIGHT. NOW. 

BOOM! Thunder cracks, the room lights up, and there it is.

Those moments are exciting. You furiously grab on to the edges of the idea and capture everything you can while it’s hot.

So you pick up your guitar or pull up your bench at the piano and start writing.

For a moment, it feels like you’ve just captured lightening in a bottle.

2. Then it disappears just as quickly as it came.

You write and you write and then – cue tire screeching noise – you hit your first snag.

You come to a point in the song where it stops being “easy.” The words aren’t pouring out of you, you find that aren’t sure where to go from here. (Sometimes it happens around the second verse)

You play through your song so far and you start to think, “Well, that’s that – the inspiration is gone:”

So you close your notebook, get up, walk away and tell yourself some heinous lies:

“This is so terrible, I don’t know why I even stared.

Or my favorite (read: the worst one)

“I’ll come back it to it when I get inspired again.”

And guess what?

You never do.

You never come back to that song.

You go about your life and pass your notebook sitting at your desk, your guitar tucked away in it’s case, and you think, “Hm, maybe? No, not today. I’m not feeling it.”

You may go so far as to pick up your notebook and flip through it, hoping to jumpstart something, but the inspiration never strikes. The storm has passed and you’re left with a half baked idea.

And you feel terrible about it.

The guilt. It’s thick like humidity.

The air around your notebook or guitar or piano or computer feels heavy with it. You kind of don’t even want to walk past them anymore because the guilt of not writing is eating you up inside.

You’ve accumulated probably dozens of half started ideas that have taken up permanent residence in notebooks around your house, and it breaks your heart a little bit every time you look at them. 

Common songwriter Lies: “This is so terrible, I don’t know why I stared. “I’ll come back it to it when I get inspired again.” On SongFancy.com

3. Babe, it’s time to put up a lightening rod.

Up until now, this is usually what the life of a frustrated or beginning songwriter looks like. Is this your story, too? It was mine. For too long.

(No shame, babe. That’s why I’m writing this post – to share with you the big truth that helped me become a happier, better songwriter)

Those lightening in a bottle moments have been what you lived for.

Between songs, you’re just going through the motions of your life, waiting for the next strike to hit.

Honey, I’ve got to be honest with you – you can’t keep doing this to yourself.

It’s time to actually give your songs a fighting chance.

But how? By investing time yourself. 

Remember how I said that you need to write songs to get inspired to write songs?

You need to allow yourself to write song songs, even when you’re feeling completely uninspired.

And in doing that, you’ll put up a lightening rod – an inspiration trap – to catch those moments of inspiration when they strike.

While you’re focusing on your songwriting, your lightening rod will be out there, ready to capture any inspiration the moment it comes up. NO waiting around required. You can get to work while all the songwriting inspiration comes to you.

What is a lightening rod? It’s something that you naturally start to build by

  • Writing often
  • Writing consistently
  • Writing fearlessly

I’m not going to pretend this is easy.

It really isn’t.

You have to allow yourself the grace to make mistakes. To be imperfect. The patience to see it through.

It’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be so rewarding.

You need to go to work, babe.

I’m not here to crack a whip on you. I want to get you psyched to write! And for me, when I realized that writing more = writing better = more inspiration, I was pumped.

It’s like going to the gym and not seeing gains for a long time – then one day, you do.

You don’t have to be at the whim of inspiration anytime you want to write or finish a song. You can do it yourself, but putting in some time, hard work, and fearless writing.

Isn’t that exciting?

How to set up a lightening rod: 1. Write often 2. Write consistently 3. Write fearlessly. On SongFancy.com

Now you know the truth, so what are you going to do about it?

Finding inspiration means actively searching for it. You’ve got it in you. Are you going to finish those songs you’ve started?

Are you going to write more often, even when you feel completely uninspired?

Putting in the time and the hours to live a more inspired life is a commitment. You’ll need to exercise your creative muscles daily. You’ll need to walk through the world with an open heart (and ears). You’ll even need to practice being kind to yourself.

All of this is a lot, I realize – it takes a ton of energy and discipline to change habits. Especially if you don’t know how to start.

That’s why I’ve created an online course to help you through exactly that. It’s called Living an Inspired Life: How to Find Song Ideas, and it will take you from uninspired, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants songwriter to a prolific, creative-minded idea machine.

Living an Inspired Life will:

  • Help you change your mindset around inspiration
  • Guide you with small video lessons and exercises
  • Show you how to see song ideas everywhere

Following through with the exercises in this course will help you establish lifelong creative habits. Check it out here! More details and a sneak peek on this page. See you inside the course!

Some of the goodies inside Living and Inspired Life | Songfancy

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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.