5 Fun Songwriting Exercises: Improve Your Writing AND Have A Good Time

Here are some writing exercises I do when I want to sharpen my songwriting skills and just have a good time with it, putting no pressure on myself.  Ready for some songwriting fun?!?

Thumb through a magazine looking for song ideas.

Sometimes when I’m on an airplane, I pick up the inflight magazine and challenge myself to find 5 song ideas.  I often find great song ideas or titles in headlines and in advertisements.  On my last flight, I found a killer idea that I wrote later that day.

Writing something goofy always adds up to songwriting fun.

Not worrying about the “quality” of the song can be therapeutic. I’m still working my songwriting muscles, but just giving myself the freedom to write something stupid that will make people laugh is really enjoyable.

Write something YOU love.

Every now and then, I walk into a co-write and just request permission to simply write something that WE love without giving a thought to who might record it.  Many of those songs turn out to be very commercial, but we’re okay if they don’t as long as we love them.

Open a dictionary and pick one word that interests you from the pages you opened to.

Write a song with that word in the title.  Or, even more challenging, write a song with that one word as the title.

Free Associate.

Take a song title you’ve been messing with and take 15 minutes to write down every word or phrase you can think of that is related to that title.  You’ll be amazed at the interesting ideas you uncover.

Don’t let songwriting ever start to feel like a job.  It should be a mix of pure songwriting fun and sharpening your craft!

Write on! ~MD

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson - pro songwriter/instructor - SongTown

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing

16 thoughts on “5 Fun Songwriting Exercises: Improve Your Writing AND Have A Good Time

  1. Thanks for the tips Marty, I often practice “object” writing to spark new ideas. It really does work everytime….!

  2. The “goofy” tip is all me inside and out! I love doing this. I’ll jot down something that I think, “There’s no way this will ever turn into a song!” Like a famous phrase, “Got off on the wrong foot,” and just goofified it. “Stop stepping on the wrong foot!” Eventually it transformed itself into a song called “The Right Foot,” and now it’s one of my top-50 that I’ve written. I love reading these ideas from a great songwriter. My favorite song I’ve ever written, “Come to Life,” which has won two 1st places and one 2nd place in the three respective contests in which I’ve entered it was actually a “goofy” idea. “What if a picture came to life like Harry Potter?”

    I’ve never tried the thumb-through yet, but I might do a version of that – like pointing to the spot on the globe you dream-visit, maybe I’ll just poke at a random sentence and make myself write a song about it, see how it works out.

    I really, really want to join. This dang COVID stuff is hamstringing me financially, but by just reading the tips on this blog to help guide me, I’ve sold the licensing rights to four of my songs in the past three weeks. You guys are awesome; I cannot wait to join, as soon as I’m able!

  3. I especially like the silly song writing idea. We sometimes take our songs too seriously and want to hoard our words. This exercise encourages writing as a waterfall instead of a secluded pool.

  4. Mr.dodson, im really needing some direction/help…lifetime writer/guitar player..april 1982, neck nearly busted -oil rig accident, spine& nerve damages..they ‘retired’ me. On sm disability since. spent the ’90’s home studio recording 500+ origional songs onto cassette.
    Pop/ballads/rockers/country/children’s songs/poems/social .etc. WAS injured at local comedy show when a drunk smashed a heavy glass beer pitcher into my face/head.. 7.5 hrs w/ plastic surgeon, etc, I literally saw stars (silver & gold) for yrs. I forgot EVERYTHING ..who i was/what i did etc..NOW, for the 2nd time, my home been robbed, my guitars & studios (etc) all gone..stolen. AND 2 days ago I found 1 tray of 100 cassettes down in my driveway..returned by the thiefs ..BEFORE their stolen again, can you Please aim me…how/where to sell, how to transfer cassette to cd..anything would help.. theres some nice stuff here..some beauty, some crap, some eye-wetters, somec great ideas for m/f singer.. from the lost teddy bear missing one button eye, to the quiet woman with the sad an angry eyes, who takes care of the old crippled cavalrymen..yeah..she Feed’s ’em well..they all come hobblin up when she rings her dinnerbell…to the brokenhearted no-longer young man crossin the dixie line for what he prays is the last time..commin out of oklahoma, he thot about her then..as always again, again, again.. IF you have any ideas/thots/ etc.and a spare moment, I’d appreciate your imput..&if lead generates any income, I do share. I’m old now, still trying generate something to leave to my son an daughter. They were the ones who really got hurt when I was injured.. my wife stayed longer than most, but in the long run they lost their daddy and all i had planned for them an their growin up years..(which was ALL of me, ALL I knew, ALL that I could teach an provide them)..

    1. Bill, I just now saw your post. It’s from a year ago, but still pertinent, I hope?
      For me, I keep a notebook and write down any, every idea..No rules, just a sentence that catches the gist of the idea..
      You have so many life experiences, so even reading your post here, I can see several ideas..If you can’t play while working on an idea, look for someone local to you who can, maybe you can write together.
      Happy writing!
      Tedi May

  5. Great tips Mart y going to try these used to walk around in the book stores getting titles thx for the info!

  6. I hum ; I want to turn that humming into a song. Write that song with staff notation, What do I do. I may want a composer/songwriter/musician combo. How do I get such people?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *