This is a method I have used a few times and find that it can really help get a song going. This also helps potentially to lead to a more narrative style song as opposed to a lyrical style song.
The basic exercise is to
- Think of a mood/emotion/theme you want to write about
- Come up with a short (4-5 sentences of so) story that reflects that mood and that will act as an anchor for your song
That is basically it for today. The story you write (i.e., the words in your story) may or may not show up in the final song. It just grounds us. The next exercise will begin fleshing it out.
- Mood/emotion: sad; theme: heartbreak
- Protagonist has had a rough go of it lately. He has lost his job and his love. His mom who has been his rock is very sick. On top of that, his car won’t start and his cat ran away. He has tried to look for comfort in all the familiar places and vices, but nothing seems to help. He is hopeless, but something changes and he begins to see hope, very blurry in the distance.
There you go. That is it. Your story doesn’t have to be unique (this one is definitely not, I have heard it a million times before). If you are looking to write something unique, try staying away from moods like “love”, “heartbreak”, and “God”, especially if you are a beginner. Those have been written about so much, you may set yourself up for gratuitous self-judgment and undue comparison. If you are unworried about uniqueness (like me), then write about whatever you like.