"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." (Thomas Edison)
This is the motto I live by where my writing is concerned. I'm reading The Complete Singer Songwriter and learning not only more about writing songs, but also about performing and recording. Some ideas the book offers for getting inspiration to write songs are:
1. Babble—write music first, sing nonsense phrases, make sounds that fit the music and rhythm
2. Make mistakes—try alternate tunings, introduce a random element
3. Eaves drop/observe—find intriguing details to use as starting pints for characters/stories, be a detective, take good notes, look for specific words and precise images to use
4. Give yourself an assignment—write a song to a rhythm scheme, write a slow/fast song, write a ballad based on a story, use only two chords or no chords to start.
5. Get away from your instrument/loops
6. Expand your instrumental technique, try a new style
7. Try a different instrument
8. Switch media—poetry, novels, painting, sculpture. All art forms arise from the same basic impulses
eg: books—look at 4 ideas on how to use language and imagery to develop memorable characters
9. Learn other people's songs and come up with your own rendition. Rely on your hands and ear.
10. Listen to new music, other genres you don't know well, live music, festivals
11. Imagine an audience of a famous singer and write something for them.
12. Arrange and rearrange—work with existing material. Write lyrics to a favorite melody, or set lyrics or poetry to a new melody. Speed it up or slow it down. Transpose to a different key or instrument.
13. Use a ghost writer—imagine one of your favorite singer/songwriters writing your song and write it the way you think they would, in their style.
15. Collaborate with a cowriter
16. Join a songwriting group to get feedback, moral support, performing experience, writing assignments, connect with local music community, find a cowriter, bass player
17. Just do it—like a staff writer, develop a songwriting routine