Tools For Effective Songwriting (2)

As I mentioned in my previous post, songwriting is made up of three important ingredients: inspiration, creativity, and craftsmanship.
And if we were to break the science of songwriting down a little further I would say the following categories are vital to consider:



Capturing -methods used to keep your ideas and moments of inspiration from leaving you
Researching -gathering and organizing good content
Refining -the process of crafting and completing your song
Archiving -having a useful system for organizing finished and unfinished songs

In this post we’ll look at the first one and some tools that go along with it.


Ideas come and go. Your brain will unfortunately forget most of your ideas. This means you need some tool to capture them. You’ll have to explore what will work best for you, but here are my suggestions.

You’ll obviously need some method of recording. Before I got a smart phone I remember calling my wife’s voicemail and leaving messages with my ideas. Thankfully she was patient with me as I cluttered her mailbox with loads of little random melody messages!

You may not be comfortable with that, but you do need some way to record your fleeting moments of inspiration. I know what it’s like to have a great melody one moment and think you’ll remember it, only to later find that it’s been erased from your memory, never to return.

Your typical handheld recorders can be expensive, but there are smaller, cheaper options. Something like the Olympus VN-7200 would work great if you take a retreat to a place where you don’t want to bring your iPhone and be interrupted easily. If you want to keep it simple and user friendly then a dictation recorder like this is what you need.

But let me tell you about my favorite. Now that I’ve upgraded to the smart phone I’ve discovered Evernote.

Evernote allows me to capture audio on my phone while syncing it through “the cloud” to my laptop, where I can continue working on it later. This has been huge for me, because I used to just have little recordings of things on my phone or my handheld recorder, but it was harder to keep it before me. In Evernote I can have the original idea in a wav file attached to a new “note”, where I can immediately begin researching and refining my ideas in the same place.

Keeping all your ideas in one place is vital. Songwriters are artists, and artists tend to loathe organization. The problem with this is you have artists who never get anything done. (Read Belsky’s book Making Ideas Happen to change your ways).

Don’t go completely paperless just yet! Sometimes you need to get outdoors and unplug from technology, but you’ll still need something to capture ideas with. Having your favorite journal on you is smart. I suggest something like a moleskine for simplicity and creativity. I’m trying out a similar journal created by Behance that allows you to also keep a to do list in connection to your ideas. Journals are nice because they don’t require a battery!

Whatever it is that you decide to use, you should keep it simple and sustainable. Inspiration is something that comes and goes whenever it pleases, but when it does come you must capture it. Don’t let it get away. Also don’t try and judge your ideas to quickly before you capture them. That comes later with refining.

Get the Evernote app for free here-

More In This Series

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