Songwriting Exercise for Uncovering Interesting, Fresh Hooks


Sarah Spencer


Great hooks are soooooo hard to come by. This songwriting exercise is a fun one to try when you need some interesting hook ideas (or at least a place to get started).

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 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.

Your line certainly doesn’t have to be perfect.

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 1 through 6.

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 1 through 6.

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

You should now have 6 words on the right, and 6 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 word. For example, in the photos below, I got 6 and 5, so my idiom would be “Fool’s gold” and my word would be “Tallahassee”.

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

songwriting tips and techniques - roll a di!

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

So [idiom] becomes [idiom + noun]. In our example, Totally weird!

Here are some of the hooks I got:

  • 6 + 5 = “Fool’s Tallahassee”
  • 3 + 2 = “Backseat Body”

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

6. Repeat. :)

You can do this process forever. You can even get 2 dice and make lists of 12 instead of 6, for even more options.

Keep rolling until you’ve got some inspiring hooks, then put them in your hookbook for safekeeping.

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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 or purchase her debut EP, "Freshman Year" on iTunes.