Muse's Muse Songwriting Message Board: Are You a Nocturnal or Diurnal Songwriter? - Muse's Muse Songwriting Message Board

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Where do you get your inspiration? What books have you read or seminars have you attended that helped you in this respect? Are there any specific techniques you use to get you writing? Feel free to discuss any of the creative aspects of songwriting in this forum. You can also use this forum to help inspire and to challenge yourselves. Make suggestions for song topics, talk about titles, discuss the differences between poetry and song lyrics, etc. Enjoy!
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Are You a Nocturnal or Diurnal Songwriter?

#1 User is offline   Nicholas Icon

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 03:36 PM

Do you "hear" music by day or by night? Miles Davis and Duke Ellington both said that they worked most naturally by night. So far I haven't encountered a musician who works only by day, and I've encountered quite a few who say it comes after dark. Many also seem to be insomniacs. What's the deal? Do you work by day? Or by night?

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 05:03 PM

Good topic - I guess I'm more of a daytime, and especially morning, writer. I'm at my best creatively in the early morning, and at least half my gigs are morning shows (libraries, markets, etc). But 3 of my last 4 songs came to me at night, after wife and kid had gone to bed - I recorded them on my phone while watching baseball.
I like the occasional happy hour performance, too, but usually after a hard day or week at work I'd rather be listening to music than trying to please a crowd with it.
But back to writing ...
Probably half of my February Album Writing Month output this year was written during the day. I do like recording at night, though - particularly when I can leave the window open and get a good breeze and maybe even some ambient night time noise (crickets, or sometimes police sirens around here) in there. And I like practicing banjo on the porch as the sun sets.
I'm pretty worthless as a writer in the hours between, say, 2 and 4 in the afternoon. That's usually when I'm on my way home from work or driving my daughter around, anyway.
I do like to stay up late, but I'm not an insomniac. And I rarely get a good music idea late at night, so there's not much danger of me coming up with something cool right before I drift off to sleep and then forgetting about it.

#3 User is offline   Neal K Icon

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 08:13 PM

Day. Night is for playing live or sleeping.

Neal
The forest would be silent if only the best birds sang.

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 08:55 PM

Hey Nicolas, I'm still trying to become a songwriter but I do have a lot of trouble sleeping! I may go weeks without anything at all going on inside my head (scary I know) and then I'll start getting lots of ideas, when that happens I can't sleep. I'm not sure which comes first but I do know that they come together. I was actaully wondering which comes first, because it last for days or a week and I hardly sleep at all.

Is it a known disease? Is there a cure? :)

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 12:08 PM

Diurnal, unfortunately. I wrote most of my stuff at work--while I was supposed to be working. :P

#6 User is offline   Alistair S Icon

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:07 PM

View PostNeal K, on 10 June 2010 - 02:13 AM, said:

Day. Night is for playing live or sleeping.

Neal


And stuff :P

Except when I have nobody to do stuff with. Then I might write :)
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Posted 27 June 2010 - 10:25 PM

I am all about the daytime -

Sometimes some interesting lyrics can come if I use that almost-asleep-time to conjure up some unusual ideas - but the music is almost always in the daytime - often before lunch!
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#8 User is offline   weirdrelatives Icon

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:41 PM

For me, it really has nothing to do with the time of day. If I feel stress-free and well-rested, that's when it's easy to get creative. The weekends are generally when that occurs. It's sometimes next to impossible for me to write on weekdays, because I feel so stressed and/or tired. But no matter what time of day, if I have energy, I can usually sit down and actively search for ideas until I find one.

Of course, if I have to pick one, I'd say daytime is definitely more productive for me if we're talking starting a song. I can stay up to wee hours of the morning if I'm in the middle of something, but because I need sleep, I don't generally try to start a song at Midnight.
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#9 User is offline   MrFitz Icon

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Posted 11 July 2010 - 02:24 PM

View Postweirdrelatives, on 28 June 2010 - 10:41 PM, said:

For me, it really has nothing to do with the time of day. If I feel stress-free and well-rested, that's when it's easy to get creative.


I agree with that - songwriting is definatly something I "indulge" in when i have sometime to chill out and relax - due to my busy lifestyle this usually occurs late evening say 10pm onwards. So that kinda makes me a nocturnal writer I suppose - it does help that I struggle sleeping (Not quite insomnia but ya know close) and it is definatly something that helps me chill out that little bit more and ready to sleep - maybe not the greatest way to write songs but hey work for me!

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 04:49 AM

Definitely daytime for lyrics, evening for music. I write lyrics on the way to work and at lunchtime at work. I sometimes work on the music in the evening after work (as you can see, it all circles around work!)

#11 User is offline   140483 Greenock Scotland Icon

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 01:14 PM

generally night time for me, although i have scribbled lyrics down at work and then worked on the song more in the evening. Sitting down with my guitar and a nice cold beer in the evening to write is the perfect way to relax
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#12 User is offline   kimberlyinnc Icon

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 05:29 PM

I am a night owl and usually feel more creative at night....
I am sure medications have something to do with that, as in the early morning after certain meds, I am not able to put two words together...haha. Not true, but I get my best sleep from 6 am until noonish...so night time is good for me. I usually stay awake until 1 am easily. I am not a morning person. I suppose I am "fortunate" as I can write when I want to, not working outside the home. But I have to be in the mood. :blink:
:P

Good question...so far I think the daytimes are winning

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#13 User is offline   weirdrelatives Icon

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 08:41 AM

View Postkimberlyinnc, on 04 August 2010 - 05:29 PM, said:

after certain meds, I am not able to put two words together...haha.
I think that's called drugs, not medication, Kim.:D
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#14 User is offline   kimberlyinnc Icon

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Posted 05 August 2010 - 01:27 PM

View Postweirdrelatives, on 05 August 2010 - 09:41 AM, said:

View Postkimberlyinnc, on 04 August 2010 - 05:29 PM, said:

after certain meds, I am not able to put two words together...haha.
I think that's called drugs, not medication, Kim.:D

Come on now Valerie, you were not supposed to tell anyone!! :P :lol:

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and.. I can laugh; because I have known sadness

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#15 User is offline   skybreaker2012 Icon

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 09:38 AM

I work best at night time...something about the calm of the night that sets my brain into overdrive...lyrics and ideas pour out...I just can't concentrate during the day...
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#16 User is offline   Kiat Icon

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:01 AM

Usually, most of my inspirations for songs pop out at night. Night time is the time when i'm most calm and collected, thus it is the perfect time to write a song, especially a love song.

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:55 PM

I LOVE night time and always have, that's when I enjoy writing the most. But experience has taught me that I write better content during the day, especially the morning. I really have to force myself to write during the day though, I just don't like it as much!
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#18 User is offline   Brennan Walls Icon

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 01:39 AM

i love me some late night recording/writing sessions. the later the better typically. (i'll mix until 5am if i have to)

but i'm just a college kid who's too excited by the magic of music ;)

#19 User is offline   Big Jim Icon

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:18 PM

I am not a day person.....early rising knocks me for six. I usually work at night performing so my body clock has over the years become accustomed to that.....Having said that I sometimes do studio work during the day...but prefer afternoon sessions. When writing recording or mixing at home I do it when I get time. I mostly write as a hobby...performing for a living is my full time job.

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 11:26 AM

I agree some nice ideas can occur at any time of the day or night... However, as a doctor, I know that for example the hormone levels (like for example melantonine) are different on different hours and this might have some effects on creativity... at least, cincerning me, I have to say that some of my best ideas came up at night or during the early morning hours, when woke up from sleep, though it might be also purely coincidental...

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 05:46 PM

Nocturnal all the way. But idead pop into my head all the time, I guess. Sometimes I wake up at night with bits and pieces of lyrics in my head, or even a complete chorus.

Yeah... I'm always very tired in the morning...

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:12 PM

I write my songs at night for the most part. Often, I can't get to sleep until I have them out of my head and down on paper. I used to write quite a few on the commute to and from work too - probably because these are the only times I am on my own and not surrounded by kids or other people. I used to drive a scooter through the country roads of co. Antrim singing all the way...by the time I got to work, I had come up with a song.

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 06:48 PM

I'm usually more creative at night time. That's when I try to organize my thoughts and think about the day, and often times these trains of thought turn into a song.

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Posted 16 February 2011 - 12:34 PM

I don't have a specific time for much of anything. If the mood strikes me, then I write -- haven't composed anything since I was a child, though. I've written at work, in the middle of the night, recorded lines on my phone while driving, texted myself at stop lights... I've an everywhere-all-the-time kinda gal, so if I don't have specific inspiration, I find it frustrating to write.
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Posted 19 July 2011 - 03:00 PM

I write whenever I have an idea, no matter what time of day it is.
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Posted 26 October 2011 - 10:16 AM

I don't really have a time to write, I just need to be alone and feel the inspiration. :D
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Posted 04 November 2011 - 03:36 PM

I cant tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night, wrote some words down (thinking it was brilliant) then waking up and reading them! blahahaha. I'd rather write awake!
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Posted 18 November 2011 - 12:55 PM

I write when I'm inspired. A lot of my lyric ideas come from things I hear people say, or things I read, so I find that I write at pretty inconvenient times... watching TV with my dad, in math class, eating out at a restaurant, during an English assessment... if I get a good idea, I start writing the song in my head and I can't move until I'm done, then I quickly write it down. I also have a lot of melodies recorded on my BlackBerry, and I think a lot of those come later in the day, usually after 5pm. I also have a lot of random lyrics written on my phone, in the Memo Pad. When I have a few lyrics or an idea, I tend to sit down and write a song either at home after school, or in my free periods at school. So generally, I don't have a specific time for writing... but mostly mornings, maybe 9am - 12am and late at night, around 9pm-2am often :)
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Posted 03 December 2011 - 11:02 AM

For me there is no correct or best time to write, when an idea hits I try to get it down in some form so that it is not forgotten and then I can come back to it when my time is more flexible.

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 08:07 PM

Lately I've been writing songs before I go to sleep, I try to write one (even if it's no tvery good) each night, but sometimes I get inspiration during day(:

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 11:39 PM

Cami12
I do the same thing...matter of fact I'm writing one now..also write just before waking up

Theresa

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 12:57 PM

As a writer, it's not about day or night for me. It's about getting ideas from words, like a phrase or simple sentence, or even an image on tv, or something spoken that I hear in a movie, something I see in a news broadcast, or tv show. Communication between people is an important source for ideas and if I hear something I like, whether serious or funny, then I develop an idea from a word or phrase. For me, words are the motivating factor but the list is endless as to possible writing triggers of inspiration. Visuals are important too. Music or melodies I hear can often inspire me to write as well, just so many factors to aide the process.
One thing I love to do which tremendously motivates me, is to create a list of lyric titles that I rank by title alone at first in what I call my own "Top 21 lyric countdown" . I started doing this more than 10 years ago and it's very useful. The name of the game is to develop the lyric based on the title and then move each title I've created up and down the chart based on which ones I think are better or worse than others and by how well I anticipate a thought or idea would do in a "real" market. Lol
Call me crazy, but hey! It works. Sometimes I write in the morning, sometimes the afternoon and other times the evening. Most of my writing takes place, when I am relaxed, my inhibitions are low, and by that I mean like stress from work is not around, so vacation time or weekends especially are best, but after work during the week, which usually means the evening times are good too, but there is no set time or day. Feeling passionate enough to write something is like sex. It can just happens when you get the urge, feel it, and sometimes least expect it. I am like the weather with my own creative energy. Don't try to predict the weather, because just when you think you have, it changes.

#33 User is offline   DannyDep Icon

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 02:31 PM

I am a "need to be alone" songwriter.
Now I admit that this occurs, in my life, more so during the night than during the day.
But it has nothing to do with the amount of light wherever i am at the time I'm writing.
I guess it's one reason why I'm a big fan of Stings as he too, needs this sense of tranquility.
So, Bring on the Night. :P
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#34 User is offline   Roger Icon

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 03:16 PM

Mornings, 100% of the time. I never work at night. For me, I like approaching writing when my head is the clearest and cluttered up with a day's worth of baggage. I usually get up around 5:30 or 6, have some coffee & read the news and then get to work by 7:30 or 8.

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 11:01 AM

I used to write whenever I had free time. Now its a regular thing and I have to agree with Roger, Mornings work out much better. If I get an idea, Ill write it down, but the majority of the time, I work much better in the am with fresh ears and head
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#36 User is offline   Theresa Icon

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 01:49 PM

View PostNeal K, on 09 June 2010 - 09:13 PM, said:

Day. Night is for playing live or sleeping.

Neal


Just had to say love the saying on your post

The forest would be silent if only the best birds sang

#37 User is offline   Topaz Icon

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 09:54 AM

Definitely nocturnal. I can't seem to get the creative juices flowing when it's bright out and there's so much noise around me. Interestingly, I also like to write when it's raining really hard out... ;)

#38 User is offline   Clemo Icon

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:05 PM

For three nights in a row I got into bed, picked up my pen and wrote the next parts to the song I had started the words needed no correction (Weird or what?)
I can get inspiration any time though very rarely when I wake up.

#39 User is offline   Captain2003 Icon

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 01:07 AM

I usually come up with my lyrics as I'm lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, and I record them on my phone. But I don't physically write them down until late evening the following night, just before I go to bed. If I have a deadline to meet or if I'm working on a collab, then I'll write anytime of the day as needed to get it done.
--Kyle--
ASCAP Member

Exercise:

1. Go to the Billboard website and open the 'Hot 100' chart.
2. Select as many of the songs as you wish, find the accurate lyrics to each one (Sing365 is a decent site), and paste them into whichever word processing program you use.
3. Critique each lyric using the same criteria that you use to critique lyrics here on the Muse.
4. If you stay true to yourself during this process and leave all biases out of it, you'll notice that your lyrics are often no worse nor better than anything being marketed and sold in today's mainstream music industry. So, the next time someone tells you how 'taboo' it is to alternate between multiple points-of-view within your lyrics, or when someone insists that your lyrics contain too many clichès, just remember that it really is your choice, and that making recommended changes may or may not improve your work from a marketing standpoint. Writers at all levels of expertise can benefit from this exercise, and repeating it every few months is a good way to stay up-to-date on current industry standards, and you'll give better feedback because of it, guaranteed.


*Always thank your peers for taking the time to review your work, and most of all, hold yourself accountable for maturing into the writer you want to be.*

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