Being Prepared When Inspiration Strikes

Added on Monday 4 Jul 2011

Ideas will come into your brain while you’re in the strangest of places, at any time of the day or night. You’ve probably heard stories about how some of the greatest hits were born. Paul McCartney has said some of his best songs came to him in his dreams. Billy Joel also got the song “River of Dreams” from — you guessed it — a dream. And Sting, former lead singer of the group The Police, awakened in the middle of the night, wrote a song in ten minutes flat, then went back to sleep. The song? “Every Breath You Take.” (Makes you want to get plenty of shut-eye, now doesn’t it?)

When a melody or a lyrical idea pops into your head, make sure you have a way of freezing it in time. Try to carry with you, at all times, a notebook to jot down ideas and a digital recorder to capture your musical phrases. Never fool yourself into thinking you’ll remember the ideas when you get home. And don’t think that “If it’s really so great of an idea, I won’t forget it.” Some great songs will never be heard because the songwriter couldn’t reconstruct some once-in-a-lifetime moment of inspiration. Those cool ideas that you know you’ll never forget will be “dust in the wind” if you don’t have the discipline to write them down or hum them into the recorder when they hit.

A flash of inspiration may hit you when you least expect it. Be ready to catch it — then be prepared to work hard at turning the initial idea into a finished song.

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