I’ve worked with many songwriters who’ve said to me, “I’m not writing because I just don’t have any ideas for songs.” I can’t speak for them, but I know that when I have that thought… I’ve gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick.
For me songs tend to start one of two ways. One is that a fragment of words, melody, and/or harmony occur to me (I get an ‘idea’), and a song starts from that. The other way, much more common these days, is that I sit down with a guitar and just start messing around, singing and playing. More often than not, something comes up. It’s not always good, but sometimes I think it is, and sometimes I can make a song out of it.
There are those who wouldn’t start a song without a good chorus/title idea to build around. I’ve done that many times and it’s great. There are many ways to write – a good method is whatever works. My point is that I don’t have to ‘Have An Idea’ to start writing a song. Writing a song is a way to get an idea!
I make a time and place for writing, and just PLAY… like a kid in a sandbox; at first anyway. A kid’s not worrying if his sandcastle is good or not; he or she is just exploring. Then, when something interesting catches my ear… I start getting a little more ‘grown-up’ and develop things in a more focused way, hopefully without losing the sense of adventure that I started with.
Of course there’s often a time in the process – not always, but usually – when you just have to sweat it out to bring the song home – it’s just work. But that can be fun too… if you like a challenge.
I just need to start writing. Then, eventually, I’ll get an ‘idea’. It might even be a good one.