3 Great Hacks to Regain InspirationSep 04, 2021
Sometimes life is going too well. There’s no drama, no heartbreak, no despair to write about. Maybe your teenage angst is gone or you just don’t love tractors the way you used to.
So sometimes it can be hard to maintain or regain inspiration.
We’re going to discover 3 great hacks to regain inspiration.
Go Back or Forward in Time
Just because your current situation is nothing like your past experiences doesn’t mean you can’t draw from them.
Even if you’re happily married with 3 kids, I bet you still remember what it felt like when you had your heart broken for the first time.
Even if you have found your way out of an abusive relationship, I bet you remember all the emotions you were dragged through.
Even if everything is going wrong now, I bet you remember that feeling of hope- even if you have to dig far to find it.
The good thing about experiences is they stay with us. Not only do they shape who we are, but they will forever remain a pool of emotions and experiences to dive back into. Only, this time, you can stay broken hearted for the hour you’re writing and then go back to your good life. Ah, much better.
We can go forward in time too. Having friends with children may help you imagine the feeling of holding your own child.
Imagining the pain caused by a spouse with cancer becomes something that feels more real and possible when you know someone close to your age who has gone through it.
And we can even let our imaginations get out of control and imagine a bright or dark future. Like a dream that feels so real when you wake up, it’s amazing how real a fake future can feel if you take the time to dive into it.
Lastly, you can use current experiences to bring more realism to your past experiences. Maybe you could never relate to your overprotective mother and how she worried about you. But your daughter just went on her first date. The shotgun is loaded and you’re ready to write a song from your mom’s perspective as she worried about you.
Look at the Real World Around You
There is a whole world around you. There are countless people you are friends with, work with, and simply see walk down the street. Surely there are experiences you can pull from outside of your own.
The easiest and most obvious group to pull from are those close to you. Your spouse, closest friends, relatives and co-workers.
It is amazing what kind of inspiration can come from a single bro talk. Just talking to someone about something other than small talk can go a long way.
I wrote a breakup song from my friend’s perspective years before I had ever experienced a breakup. And, you know what? When I did experience that, I realized just how accurate what I wrote was. Very accurate.
I also wrote a song on the hopelessness I saw from some of my co-workers from my first job.
I’ve utilized a combination of my own experiences with the emotions and experiences of my wife to write several songs.
You can really tap into the emotions of something affecting someone you care about.
We can even draw from people we observe but don’t know well. Maybe a single mother you see struggling to keep calm as she is in a restaurant with her 4 kids. Maybe that girl at your college you always notice sitting alone for dinner (note: also, go talk to this person, we all need a friend).
Even the homeless man you say good morning to as you walk from your parking garage to your work building can provide inspiration for your writing.
Lastly, you can write from the experiences of people you don’t know, but can empathize with. This could be people in another country who are facing persecution or people trying to survive a natural disaster. Maybe there was a heartwarming story about a police officer saving a little boy’s life.
Whatever is going on in the world, if you can empathise, you should be able to tap into that empathy to be inspired.
Look to Stories and Other Fiction
Sometimes a movie leaves us in tears. Sometimes, when we finish a book, we feel sad as it feels we’ve seen a friend for the last time.
Sometimes a youtube video makes you gain faith in humanity (just don’t read the comments, or you’ll lose that quite fast!). Stories in all forms can bring us into a totally different world. When we’re in this world, we often feel attachment to the characters and stories.
Michael Scott’s last episode of the Office has made me tear up all 3 times I’ve watched it. I cannot help it, I HAVE FEELINGS.
These stories can make us feel something like we’ve never felt before. They also can bring dormant or locked-up emotions to the surface.
If you’re not in the middle of binging a show that gives you feels and don’t want to invest in a 2 hour movie, a great hack is to look up videos about your subject. There are so many well-made short videos by people all over the world on the internet. For a song I was writing, I found a video of an old man attempting to save an injured bird. I watched it twice in a row, and found exactly the emotional space I needed.
This may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes cutting back or even totally cutting out listening to other music can be very beneficial. If we have so many fully-written songs rolling around in our heads, this can sometimes make writing our own original music a bit harder.
So, if you’ve been struggling with originality or even being able to write at all, take a couple week break from listening to music. If you still need something to listen to, podcasts are a great option. If you want to hear more from me, check out the accompanying podcast, the songwriter theory podcast! Even audiobooks you can often get for free through your library. With my library, I can even find, reserve, and download audiobooks all from my phone.
My last 10+ audiobooks have been free due to my library subscription, and I haven’t had to do anything but use an app on my phone to get them.
Where are some places you find inspiration when it seems to have dried up? Tell us in the comments below!
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