Mind Mapping for Exercise for Songwriting: Do This Every Time You’re Stuck on a Lyric


Sarah Spencer

're stuck on a lyric! From SongFancy, songwriting tips and inspiration for the contemporary singer songwriter

Who uses mind mapping?

A mind map is a tool used by writers, project managers, marketers, and all sorts of people to brainstorm new ideas. It’s also a fabulous exercise for songwriters to visually produce new material for songs!

Songwriting tips: use a mind map to explore new song ideas. | SongFancy

What you’ll need:

  • A notebook or a sheet of paper (one per song)
  • A pen
  • Optional: colored pencils or markers

How to mind map: The Basics

1. Write your title or central idea in the middle of the page and circle it

This is the point from which all your other ideas will branch off of. If you have a title in mind, slap it there in the center. If you don’t have a title, you can put down a line, a concept, or general idea. Keep it as short and sweet as possible.

We’ll use the example title, Love on the Beach.

2. Add 3-5 other related words that branch off your central idea, and write them around the central idea

Here’s where the magic of mind mapping starts to appear: when you add a related idea to your main idea, it’s called a “branch.” Each branch acts as an arm spanning outward from your main idea. You can add as many branches as you want. 3-5 is a good place to start.

For our Love on the Beach example, then you may have branches like beach bonfire, sand bar & grill, Corona beer, and sunset.

Songwriting tips: use a mind map to explore new song ideas. | SongFancy

3. Explore that branch with multiple smaller branches and words

Pick one of your branches and begin to explore it by adding more and more smaller branches off of it. Using our example above, let’s start with beach bonfire.

You’ll then start brainstorming words related to beach bonfire and write them down as smaller and branches. Let them chain off of one another. They don’t even have to necessarily relate back to your main idea. Follow the branch! See where your the words and your imagination leads you!

Songwriting tips: use a mind map to explore new song ideas. | SongFancy

4. Move to the next branch and repeat step 3

Now that you’ve filled out one branch as far as you can take it (or you’ve filled up a good portion of your paper!), pick another main branch and get to mapping! Repeat this process until you have every one of your main branches filled in.

You’ll see in the next photo that your branches don’t all have to be linear, either. See how Stars coming out has three mini-branches coming off of it? Each one is a color – that’s because I wanted to describe all of the different colors in a sunset! And one of them, sherbert orange, sparked it’s own branch of ice cream related images.

A closer look at the sunset branch. Mind mapping for songwriters. _ SongFancy

5. Fill the entire page!

See a blank spot on your mind map? Find a bubble near it and add a branch! Fill in every blank spot on your mind map until you have the entire page full or gorgeous ideas!

Mind mapping for songwriters - fill the entire page! | SongFancy

Option: Adding color

Some people are very visual and like to color coordinate their mind maps. If that sounds like you, try incorporating color in any of these ways:

  • Write your main idea in one color, and each branch in a unique color.
  • Write your main idea in one color, and each main branch topic in another. Write all middle branches/bubbles in a third color, the farthest branches/bubbles in a fourth color, etc.
  • Write your words in one color, and your bubbles & lines in another.
  • Allow a song to have it’s own unique color palette.
  • Come up with your own color coding system!

Fun tip: Save your mind maps

A mind map can be a fun piece of carts and crafts that you might want to save and look back on later. And you never know – you might write a song from a mind map one day, and write a completely different some from another branch in it a week later!

Share your mind maps on social media and tag SongFancy!

Got a mind map you’re really proud of? Share it (and your song!) on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtag #SongFancy – we like to share your songs on our pages!

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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.