Note from the editorSongwriting

Finding internal and external inspiration

Finding inspiration comes easy to some of us and proves harder for others.

In today´s blogpost I want to look into two different kinds of inspiration and how evoking those can really move you forward in your songwriting!

What is inspiration anyways?

The two main sources of inspiration (meaning what sparks the urge to elaborate on an idea) lie either in your inner world of thoughts and feelings and experiences (internal) or in the outer world and the happenings around you (external).

Both sources of inspiration play an important role in our lives, and they can´t be separated strictly. The outer world experiences translate into inner world processing and vice versa, do our inner thoughts effect the way we experience the world around and how we interact in the first place.

The word inspire comes form the Latin words “in” and “spirare” and quite literally means “taking something in”, “breathing in”. In that sense inspiration is something that blows some sort of excitement into our inner world. Whether that excitement stems from an outside event or an inner dialogue. And this is where either internal or external inspiration sets in.

Internal vs External inspiration

Internal inspiration often stems from strong emotions or something that´s been on your mind for a while. Internal inspiration requires some silence and attentiveness! Figuring out what is of importance to you! You need to observe your thoughts. Such internal inspirations often lead to philosophic, poetic song topics. What comes to mind are songs like “Let it be” by the Beatles, “I will always love you”- written by Dolly Parton or “Blown in the wind” by Bob Dylan.

External inspiration can be evoked by observing what´s happening around us. Listening to music that inspires, watching lovers stroll around town, overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop. External inspiration offers almost endless resources. Such observations of the world around us often lead to very relatable, storytelling scenarios. Songs that come to mind would be “She´s a maniac” by Flashdance or “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie, which illustrates the energy of a city. Something that’s clearly inspired by watching what´s going on around us.

A lot of times internal and external inspiration go hand in hand, too! Check our post on How to find inspiration when you have absolutely none.

Moving forward 

If you look at your songwriting process, you might find that one sort of inspiration dominates. In my case it is internal inspiration, due to my being an introvert and the need to be alone a lot! However, I will sometimes (if not often) incorporate external inspiration as well! For example when discovering new music I love or when writing about a party I attended or a fun trip I went on. It´s a matter of the right dosage!

I urge you to try exploring with the kind of inspiration you do not usually write from. It can be a fun exercise or it might really bring about some killer songs, you never knew you could write! Be bold, courageous and open-minded! Invite all kinds of inspirations in! You can only benefit from playing around a bit! Worst that could happen is you wasting some time.

So, go and get inspired!



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