There was a time when I had my own writing room, with a white board and everything. And on that white board I scrawled the words, “In this room there are no mistakes.” That’s a quote from Tunesmith, Jimmy Webb’s book talking about the process of songwriting.
I got Tunesmith out of the library again this week after Russ Rogers of the Fearless Songwriting community suggested it. As I started to read it, these words popped out at me: “Inspiration comes from the guts.”
Inspiration, to me, comes from doing.
The doing is trying out good ideas. And trying out bad ideas. Sometimes the good ideas that turn out to be bad. Other times bad ideas eventually turn a corner and become good ones. The goodness or badness of an idea generally comes down to the amount of energy and excitement an idea gives us as we follow it.
It’s a human thing is to create meaning and connection so it doesn’t take much to find good or bad ideas. We can thread together meaning and find connection between almost anything. Merely of putting things next together is often enough to spark something new. It’s part of the reason why, when I post the prompts each week, I often look for words and images with a pretty loose relationship to each other. I’m hoping that stretching to create a connection will spark something in your mind. (Mine too).
If it doesn’t, that’s where something like a word splatter or an object write comes in. All these things are ways of sparking an inspiration. And it’s why I can’t quite agree with the idea that “inspiration comes from the gut.”
Sure, of course, there’s a something gut level in what gets any of us excited about writing. But you can’t just wait for your gut to churn things up.
This week’s sheet is looking at Del Shannon’s Runaway, a song chock full of chord and melody ideas you might use in your own songs. (These days hearing the organ solo in Runaway reminds me of nothing so much as Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy).
The Musical Idea:
Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above: