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These three songwriting exercises are designed to get you into the flow of writing without thinking.

Your best ideas come from your subconscious—and, you can tap into this with regular practice.

Remember to do these exercises quickly, spending three minutes on each in rapid fire succession. I set the timer on my iPhone. Don’t judge or question ANYTHING you write down. This isn’t a test! The sole purpose is to train your creative thinking to respond on command.

I find it helps to write with pen and paper, instead of typing. A lot of studies show that your brain responds differently when writing, as opposed to typing.

Pen and paper? Timer set? Okay, let’s go!

1.Write down every song title that comes to mind without censoring yourself.

Work fast. Spit out titles. No judgement. Go wherever your thoughts take you. Note: These are your own original titles, not pre-existing song titles!

2.Choose one of your titles to play word association.

Write down every word or phrase that relates to your title. Don’t think! Just work as quickly as possible. This will free up your subconscious.

Here’s an example of how I free associated with one of my Darius Rucker #1 hits:

Title: ”Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It”

Associations: regrets, missing you, could’ve been, should’ve been, wrong choices, mistakes, do I cross your mind?, looking back, rear view mirror, where are you today?

3.Choose a word in your title and play poor man’s rhyming dictionary.

Write down as many rhymes as you can.

Example: My title is “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” rhyming the word “it.”

Work your way through the alphabet and add consonants to the beginning of the word. B-it, F-it, Gr-it, H-it, S-it, W-it, etc. Not all letters will work, so move quickly to the next. Today, there is less emphasis on perfect rhymes, so don’t be afraid to cast a wider net: D-itch, W-itch, S-witch.

In the example song, I chose to use the word “regret” as a rhyme with “it.” The meaning of the word, coupled with Darius’s delivery, made it work beautifully. This exercise will strengthen your rhyming skills, so that it becomes second nature. Your goal is to spend less time “thinking” of rhymes while writing.

Congratulations, you did it! Repeat daily! Write On!

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  • Jessica Allossery

    Helpful Post and I TOTALLY do this stuff – especial going through the alphabet and trying to rhyme. LOL! Thanks for writing this for songwriters like myself!!! 🙂 PS If anyone out there is interested to know my top 5 must have tools for any DIY Musician, click this link!! They will be sooo helpful to you, I promise. http://www.thelovelyindie.com/diymusicians-optin

  • Thanks Clay,
    sounds similar to the free writing exercises we did with freshmen composition students, but focused on songs.
    Love the idea of exercising your lyric muscle – totally stealing it for a post on music writing 🙂