Music Inspiration – How to Get Musical Inspiration When Song Writing

Musical Inspiration - How to Get Inspired to Write a Song

“I can’t write any music right now, I’m just not inspired by anything”.

Does that sound like what you’ve thought before?

Think about any time you have to wake up in the morning to go to school or work. If you don’t feel like going, you don’t have a choice.

You have the pressure of a possibly angry boss, getting a lower paycheck, and even getting fired, so you show up.

But what about music?

When it comes to writing or practicing, music gets the short end of the stick.

How to Get Inspired to Write a Song

Stop Waiting for Inspiration – Create it Yourself Instead

How often do you actually sit down and write something when you really don’t feel like it? I suspect it’s not very often.

It all boils down to a matter of pressure. If you avoid music, there are no immediate consequences. You don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder, you won’t lose your job, and your general livelihood will stay intact.

It seems to be of no real consequence to skip out on music.

In reality, there are many consequences to this laziness. They just won’t hit you until a 30 or 40 year old version of yourself looks back on your life, and regrets all the things you never did. You really do lose out when you choose to be lazy.

This is especially true when you consider that choosing to be lazy really nullifies your opportunities to make it as a professional musician.

So if you find yourself in a situation where you have the time to write music, but you don’t feel inspired, don’t let yourself be lazy and procrastinate it.

You have the ability to inspire yourself, if you would just start believing that you can.

How Do You Inspire Yourself?

Everyone has to find a way to make themselves inspired. If you’re waiting for a creativity faerie to come along and show you the way, let this article be your faerie.

“So tell me then” you say, “what inspires me?”

Well why the bloody rhinoceros hell do you think I would know what inspires you? Everyone is inspired by something different, you just may not know what it is yet, so I’ll give you some idea’s and examples of things that inspire me.

Mind you, if any of these things are just boring or uninteresting to you, then they probably aren’t good sources of inspiration (eg. if you hate the outdoors, it’s very possible that Nature will not be very inspirational to you).

1. Real Life

I don’t know if you noticed, but some of the very best lyrics and music comes from a writer’s most impactful real life experiences, such as someone dying or an exciting time in their life.

Music IS about expressing what you experience through a song, so why forget this method of writing? Often if you have a good story and lyrics lined up, the music behind it will come quite easily.

Zdzislaw Bekinski
Artist: Zdzislaw Beksinski

Examine your life, and consider your:

  • opinions
  • life events
  • beliefs
  • hobbies
  • passions

What do you think would be well expressed within a song? There certainly is a reason that so many people write lame songs about break-ups; they’re painful and relatable!

I suggest not taking a typical approach to a topic if it’s already been covered to death though. Try and consider how you can present your experience in a way that hasn’t been done before, either through metaphor or a perspective change.

2. Other Music

It is an especially a good idea to use music that is somewhat evolved beyond your current skill set.

If I am ever lacking inspiration, I know that there are quite a few bands that are always inspiring, such as:

  • The Number Twelve Looks Like You (inspires me to want to be a better drummer).
  • Between the Buried and Me (same as above).
  • James Blake (minimalistic, so I feel that great emotional content is within my grasp).
  • Sigur Ros
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • The Mars Volta (Frances the Mute album)
  • Isis
  • Mogwai
  • Grizzly Bear
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • The Weeknd

What music do you listen to that really empowers you to feel like, “hey, I can do this.” There are lots of bands that you might like, but only a few of them really cause that “I want to do this badly!” drive.

You want to listen to something that’s only just a bit outside of your reach, so that it still seems attainable to you; sometimes music can be so far out of our reach that it’s discouraging.

3. Visual Art

Do you find the beauty of nature breathtaking? Does a spectacular (possibly cliche) shot of a sunset help you appreciate God’s creation? Use it on your music.

If you enjoy the world around you, find an artist that creates art that captures you, and return to their website when you are in need of a little “inspirational pick-me-up”.

Here are a just a few resources for inspiring artwork:

You can find a whole lot more online though; Google is your friend.

Alex Grey
Tool Album Artwork by Alex Grey

4. Poetry & Literature (It Means Books Ya Dummy)

Yeah perhaps it is a little emo (it won’t be if you stay away from teenage angst poetry), but good poetry can really take the inspirational choke-hold off.

Poetry has a certain quality to it that is different than just plain literature. It’s written for the aesthetic sound of the synonyms and words, on top of metaphorical meaning.

I often find poetry to be very, very similar to lyrics. How fitting for a musician to receive inspiration from it!

Oh, and I would also recommend literature. That means books ya dum dum.

Zdzislaw Beksinski 2
Artist: Zdzislaw Beksinski

5. Nature

Maybe you are the type of person who likes spending time outside. Do you have a forest or river/ocean nearby?

Perhaps a walk amongst mother nature will heighten your inspirational senses.

You could also take some time to look at natural photography that grips you, but that more applies to the “visual art” section above.

Being in nature is what will calm your senses, and inspire you to write. Changing your environment will change your mind, for the better! Heck, bring your instruments outside if you gotta!

As an added bonus, I very highly recommend the article “Write drunk, edit sober, and the myth of inspiration“. I thought it was very cool, and very empowering. That article explains why there’s no need to wait for inspiration, kind of like the article you’re reading is doing!


…what do you do when you have this holy inspiration in you?

Programs To Write & Record Music With

Once you start playing, you’ll need to write your idea’s down. I already cover this subject in other areas of this site, so I won’t do much more than summarize here.

You can try out:

  • Guitar pro 5 (6 is difficult to use) – for writing tabs and classical notation
  • REAPER (free windows recording software)
  • GarageBand (free Mac OSX recording software)
  • Your phone or a portable recorder (the iPhone has a fantastic recorded inside it which is perfect for recording quick ideas)
  • Pro Tools (expensive professional recording software)
  • Logic Pro (Mac OSX competition for Pro Tools)
  • Plain old paper

Now you have no excuse not to write music if the time is available to you.

Read this article again if you are in need of an inspirational viagra. You could also check out my article How to Write a Concept Album which introduces the idea of creating a story or ‘concept’ to help you get out of a lyrical rut.

May your writing be a U-turn in the world’s bland music.

Further Reading: