Think You May Have A Knack For Songwriting? A Music Journal May Be Your Guide To Inspiration

If you've been wanting to get into songwriting but you aren't sure how to work this practice into your life, you may want to consider keeping a music journal. Most of us can admit that the way to get better at any skill is to practice, and songwriting is no different. If you want to be a disciplined songwriter, a music journal is the perfect vehicle for your ideas.


If you are strategic and organized, keeping a journal will be a wonderful addition to your practice. You'll soon see that it's not only a place for you to write down your dreams but also to document your life as you journey through it. If you ever get stuck or you aren't sure what to write, your journal will hold collections of ideas to give you a starting point. Before beginning your journal, be intentional about how you will work this practice into your routine. A strong start will ensure this becomes a lifelong practice.

Decide on the type of journal

Before beginning your process, you'll want to make sure your journal is something that you will use daily and that it makes sense for your routine. Whether you decide to keep a digital journal or a physical notebook, make sure it is something that isn't too difficult for you to access. Whatever you choose should be easy to carry, and it should be something that you keep on you at all times. Ideas can surprise you and come out of nowhere and you'll want to make sure you are ready when inspiration strikes. 


If you opt for a digital journal, the notes app on your phone is a great option to try. You can title your entries and organize them easily. It's also effortless to voice record ideas and convenient to search when trying to access an idea later in the process. 

If you prefer to be a physical journal keeper, you will appreciate the ability to keep a notebook you can write in, as there can be something therapeutic about actually writing down your thoughts. It can be easier to search for the ideas you wrote down, too, and you may like the act of physically searching through a book you made.

Choose scrapbook style vs. workbook style

Once you decide on the type of journal that works best for your artistic process, you'll want to choose the style that inspires you best. Some writers prefer the scattered and creative style of a scrapbook. This is where you collect parts of song ideas, snapshots of topics, and snippets of song notes that float into your brain. This also makes writing down ideas that come to you a breeze. The scrapbook option will be best for you if find inspiration on the fly rather than in a scheduled writing session, and you need to write down your ideas before they leave you.


A workbook-style journal is a bit more organized on the outside. If you prefer this type of journaling, you have a little more control over where you write down your ideas. As a workbook user, you may use tabs, folders, or easily identified sections of your journal so that you can keep your categories separate.

Keep it well organized

Whether you prefer a scrapbook or workbook style, you will want to organize your music journal in a way that makes sense to you. Keep a section for writing exercises that you complete to get your ideas flowing. Some writers take part in drills that help them begin forming words into lyrics, and having a section for those drills is a good idea. You can also have a section dedicated to the warm-ups you do each day. In addition, you'll want a section specifically for inspiration. This could be where you write down lyrics that are inspiring to you, but you could also keep a list of songs that impress you musically as well.


Another category you will need is one for your own song ideas. By keeping a list of topics for your songs, you'll be able to flip to that section to see if there is an idea you can flesh out. Finally, you'll want a place to keep musical notes, chord progressions, and tempos that excite you. Having a well-organized journal will inspire you to return to it each day, and it will keep your ideas clean and easily accessible.

Be disciplined in your practice

Writing is like any creative endeavor; it is not always easy to find inspiration. There will be days where ideas flow like water and you'll wonder whatever stopped you from writing before, but there will be days where writing even one line of a song seems impossible. 


It's important that you write every day without fail. To set yourself up for success, schedule a time for writing every day in your calendar. It's best if this is the same time each day, and that it's set up for the time when you feel most inspired. This is when you sit down with your music journal and take part in writing exercises. Even if you are just writing about your day, there is bound to be a topic that ends up being worthy of a song lyric or two.

In addition to making room in your schedule each day for writing, follow the same routine if you can. Start each session with a prompt, a journal, or a little bit about your day. Follow that up with lyrics or music that seems to inspire you lately. Finally, end your session with a few lines of song that may turn into something bigger.