Seeking Inspiration in Survival Mode

How can you seek the inspiration to create when you’ve been in survival mode? 

By Leah Hudson




Why should you? Your world has been turned upside down. Your rituals rearranged, your communication shifted, your spirit challenged in the face of natural disaster and national illness and cultural crises over these many months. Some things may never be the same. And yet, history tells us that folklore, storytelling, music, and culture are the things that prevail. The inspired art survives. Why does any of it matter to you?  

Because you are a storyteller.  


Before reading stories aloud, LeVar Burton draws a deep inhale, to focus on the story and the act of storytelling, and to draw a clear line connecting authors and readers. Let’s begin with a big deep breath, and let go of any guilt, worry, or “I-should-have-done-this" before we face forward. Below are four techniques you can use to reignite the desire to create, to imagine, and to tell stories. Songs come from the heart, but the mind and the pen make them come to life. To better that craft, you must take care of your mind, and always remember the mission of a songwriter: to make someone feel something.  


  1. Accountability Partners 

Being creative does not mean you always feel creativeHaving healthy relationships with other creatives (perhaps most helpful, other songwriters) drives you to want to be a better version of your creative selfMaybe you aim to write a new song per week or attend two NSAI events (Online Song Feedback/Weekly Workshop/Chapter Meeting, etc.) each month, or maybe you just journal every day and text your accountability partner once that task is completedFinding these people can be challenging if you’re looking to gain something specific from the relationship. If you want someone to give you honest song feedback or to set up a bi-weekly co-write, that’s going to take a little work in finding the right fit. Keep in mind that a family member or friend can also be your partner, even if the goals you’re respectively trying to achieve are not the same. Find someone, or a small group, and build a new ritual. This will help you AND your partner(s), increase productivity, and make it easier to seek inspiration, then put it to good useDo you have a co-writer, a friend, a family member you could call today and ask, “Will you be my accountability partner?” 


  1. Exploration  

It’s known that spending time in the sunshine and sitting in nature ignites happiness in our brains. Remember when you were a kid, and the grandeur of the world around you constantly ignited creativity? Get that back. Explore the new world around you. On your porch, around your neighborhood, or in a nearby State Park. But also explore yourself. Now is the time. Read new books (maybe with your accountability partners!), watch a series, study a new language! Re-visit an old hobby, like painting or fishing, or golf! Self-exploration will only increase your overall happiness and lead to the possibility of new song ideas, and more importantly, a revitalized sense of inspiration. Exploration will create confidence, positivity, and mindfulness in yourself, and you’ll be able to create songs with ease, like a child coloring outside the lines.  


  1. Meditation  

Maybe it has been a while since you’ve been “in the zone” with your writing. That’s okay. One of the many physical and physiological benefits of meditation is recentering to that space; becoming more productive and better prepared to handle life’s challenges. Heck, turn those into stories and songs, tooThere are many types of meditation, including activity-oriented, which you could incorporate into your songwriting or stream-of-consciousness journaling rituals. Whatever method you prefer, the general practice is the same: step away for a few minutes. Back out, and temporarily close all the noisy tabs in your brain. Focus on one thing (breathing, for example), then come back to your work, your songs, your life feeling more focusedmore inspired, and more at ease with what’s in front of you.  


  1. Reflection  

Whether you’re actively acknowledging it, there are things in your life that have been going right. Write those down and think about each one. Celebrate those victories, no matter how small. Did you make a new friend at an NSAI event like RISE or Tin Pan South Songwriting Seminar? Did you work towards a physical or intellectual goal over the past few months? Did you get feedbackor even pitch your songs latelyOr maybe you stepped away from songwriting and finished your education, learned to cook, or took care of your family. Whatever it is, you did it. Reflect on that and pay your gratitude to yourself.  Share your reflections with someone and listen when they share what they are proud of (see technique No. 1)! Recognizing your accomplishments and your strengths will keep you moving forward, and remind you that, in the face of many obstacles, you’re still the storyteller. You are a songwriter. And you got this.