As a songwriter, or even simply a creative person, if you continually find yourself getting stuck in ruts and mental blocks, this article is especially for you.
And here’s the thing, I can totally relate.
There have been times when I’ve had a project due, and from the moment I open my laptop I just start drawing blanks. No amount of willpower or brainstorming in these instances could help get my creative juices flowing in situations like this.
But eventually I started addressing this a bit earlier in my process by making use of mood boards. And I find that my initial thoughts are better collected, and I’m able to see through the end result of a project much quicker and more thoroughly than before. What the heck am I talking about?
Mood boards are a great way to set the direction for any creative project you want to embark on, with visual flare and identity. In the next few sections, I will show you how you can get your creative juices flowing and improve the strength of your songwriting process using mood boards.
Let’s step back, what’s a mood board again?
Mood boards, also called inspiration boards, are a curated collection of inspirational ideas — culled from around the internet, magazines, blogs, artbooks, etc. — used to flesh out one’s ideas from the beginning of a project. It’s a combination of various looks, feels, and textures, that can help you organize your thoughts and spark creativity.
Think about it. How many times have you sat down to write a song and then come up with a smash hit from start to finish, all at once.
For me? Never.
But when I have a visual representation of what inspires my ideas, right in front of me, I can start penning ideas more methodically and songs just start flowing on their own. In this way, my mood board allows me to gather thoughts, stories, and emotions, all in one place; and they’re easily accessible when I need them to be.
Now, let’s talk about how exactly a mood board comes in handy throughout your process.
1. It provides a step-by-step writing process
Have you ever been in a situation where you spend countless hours coming up with potential concepts or themes for a song, only to have them outright rejected by your client?
With a mood board, you can totally avoid all that back and forth, as well as the uncertainty of the submission process, as it allows you a shared platform to present your initial ideas or themes and ask for the client’s input.
As a songwriter, I know I am guilty of striving for perfection as I want each song I put out there to be a masterpiece. But when I am trying to produce as many ideas as possible, the race for perfection just wastes time and energy. A mood board allows me to come up with a rolling bank of inspirational prompts, without worrying about execution or perfection, just ideation.
So I get to relax and let my imagination run wild, because I know that it’s simply a draft and a conversation starter, and a platform for sharing concepts before I waste my time executing them.
2. It helps build the relationship with your client
Secondly, as a songwriter, one thing I want to do is ensure I can convey the feelings of the artist I’m writing for, and put them down in words.
Now, this can be a bit difficult to do if you have no background information on the artist. But with a mood board, you can get ahead of that issue right away. By showing your client or artist a list of visual references, you can see what they gravitate towards, and accommodate those details accordingly.
A mood board empowers the artist or client to get involved in all stages of the songwriting process and lowers the risk of disagreements later on, while at the same time encouraging team-building between both parties. This way, the client knows that their thoughts and emotions are being heard, and they understand the logic behind a songwriter choosing a particular theme or storyline for the song.
3. It helps you visualize your ideas
You’ve probably experienced situations where either you, your client, or your collaborator, simply can’t seem to explain exactly what they want.
In such situations, chances are you are going to have a very hard time visualizing their thoughts or their emotions — and you can’t just go trying to draw the ideas in your head (that’s probably going to get confusing).
But by spending a few hours collecting references on a detailed mood board, you can easily identify people’s ideas and get everyone on the same page, without having to draw it out yourself.
Pro Tip: Utilize colors when talking about emotions wherever possible; they’re always powerful and evocative in the songwriting process.
4. It helps you explore your creativity
Next up, the beauty of using a mood board when writing a song is that it allows you to be as creative and imaginative as possible without any limitations. Limiting yourself to just one concept, because of an impending deadline or some other necessity, is not going to make you a great songwriter.
With mood boards, you can quickly pull together as many concepts and ideas that speak to you as you want, and showcase your range of creativity. Plus, it’s a way to make connections you might not otherwise have made with just a pen and paper.
5. It can provide a great reference tool
Finally, using a mood board provides a great reference tool for me that I can always refer back to whenever I need inspiration for new projects. It’s an evolving platform of things that I enjoy looking at and thinking about.
And honestly, it’s just fun to collect and examine visual ideas. Trust me when you are staring at a blank pad with no inspiration on what to do next, nothing jiggles your brain stem like some fun concepts, and a sense of free play.
A mood board will remind you that it’s okay to find joy in what you do; and to keep you moving forward, even when it gets tough.
Every songwriter I know works differently. Developing a mood board may or may not be a working solution for you. But if you’re struggling with developing, executing, and sharing your ideas with your collaborators and clients, I strongly suggest giving it a try. Plus, it’s a great way to inject creativity and fun into your project and your ideation process.
Uche Ibe is a passionate singer and blogger at www.welovesinging.com. He enjoys teaching people how to sing and helping them become better singers. You can connect with him by visiting his blog or sending him an email.
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