Finding the inspiration zone

Added on Monday 4 Jul 2011

What inspired you to write that song? This is an age-old question that fuels many a conversation. You are probably familiar with the quote, “in the beginning was the word,” but from a songwriter’s perspective you could rephrase that statement as “in the beginning was the thought.” A thought, idea, or inspiration is where all songs begin. It is the genesis of all musical masterpieces.

I can hear you say “sounds simple, but how do I actually get the party started?” There are many techniques and methods to go about this, but the bottom line is that you need to tap into your inner voice to listen to those brilliant thoughts that are just waiting to come out and be revealed — you need to find a way to “get in the zone” and let inspiration come bubbling to the surface.

This is a common phenomenon in the sports world where athletes are able to slow down time and get into “the zone” of competition — a place where there are no distractions and everything seems to be effortless. For the songwriter, it’s just as important to get in the zone. So how do you do it? You simply quiet your mind and pay attention to your inner self. This may be difficult for the average person to fathom, but with practice it is attainable to all who seek the ability to tap into a place of higher authenticity.

Every successful songwriter has experienced this phenomenon more often than not when composing music and writing lyrics. You’ve probably heard a story or two about how an artist says their ideas come to them seemingly from nowhere. There is a perfect example of this when Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, said, “I wake up from dreams and go, wow, put this down on paper . . . that’s why I find it hard to take credit for songs I’ve written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it’s been done and I’m just a courier bringing it into the world.” From Stevie Wonder to Paul McCartney, and probably Mozart to Bach, songwriters have been listening to that inner voice of inspiration and wisdom and have passed those thoughts along to the masses.

Some basic tips for getting in the zone:

  • Clear the clutter: Quiet your mind in a peaceful setting or surroundings.
  • Set an intention: Determine what you want to accomplish, or set your sights on a particular subject or topic of interest.
  • Let your mind wander: Accept whatever thoughts want to appear.
  • Allow inspiration to flow: Don’t judge or censor what shows up.
  • Listen and record: Let your pen go as you jot down your thoughts onto a notepad or speak them into a recorder.
  • Visualize and fantasize: Expand on any thoughts that are in line with your intention or subject matter.

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