The myth of the “eureka moment” in songwriting – the idea that great song ideas come in a single moment of inspiration – is a pervasive one, and it can be especially damaging for songwriters who are trying to come up with new ideas. The idea that creativity is something that can’t be forced, that it’s something that just happens to you, can be a discouraging and demotivating belief.
However, the reality is that great song ideas rarely, if ever, come in a single moment of inspiration. Instead, they are the result of a process of iteration and revision, of trial and error, of zig-zagging our way towards something that works.
One way to think about this process is to consider the analogy of a sculptor. A sculptor doesn’t simply chisel away at a block of marble until they have a perfect statue – they make rough cuts, then refine and refine, making small adjustments and changes along the way. This process of iteration and revision is what allows them to create something beautiful and meaningful.
The same is true for the songwriting process. It’s important to recognize that great songs are the result of a process of iteration and revision. It’s okay to start with something rough and unfinished – in fact, that’s often where the best works come from. The key is to keep working at it, to keep making small changes and adjustments to your lyrics, melodies, arrangement, etc. until you end up with something that works.
So, rather than waiting for a magical idea to hit you, try actively working on your songwriting. Don’t be afraid to experiment, to try new things, to take risks with your lyrics and melodies. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to revise and iterate. With time and practice, you’ll zig-zag your way to a great song.