I have many musical ideas, some instrumental and some are parts of songs with lyrics and melody but in most times I can't get myself to develop the musical ideas or to write more lyrics without feeling I'm forcing it.

What mostly happens is that the first musical idea or song's verse and/or rhyme comes easly and "natural" but then when I try to develop it it becomes "artificial" and I find it hard to develop it and feel I am forcing it just to get more lyrics or more music to get to a full length song.

In other rare cases some songs are just being spelt out of me in whole and so fast.. Those also turn out to be the songs I like best.

What can I do to develop musical ideas/lyrics without feeling I'm forcing it?

4 Answers 4


Short version: it doesn't matter what you do-- so long as you do a lot of it, you'll get better at coming up with ideas.

Go ahead and force stuff. Work it out note by note. Or just noodle around on a piano or guitar, or hum a bunch of random stuff until something sticks out.

I've had dreams where a whole song just came to me by pure inspiration, and I woke up and wrote the whole thing down. I've also spent months and months working on a piece, never quite getting it right, chopping huge sections out in total frustration, and finally stumbling on really great material by mistake.

One more thing: an important trick to being a good musician isn't what you make-- it's what you're willing to throw out. I've had so many good ideas that I just couldn't make work-- learning when to give up and try something different is really important.

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    thoughtful post; to the OP its still worth writing your ideas down, or recording them as they may be useful in the future. Mar 7, 2022 at 13:51

A few suggestions:

  • narrow down the possibilities: Sometimes writing for a specific goal can help provide shape to a composition. For example, writing a song for a commercial or a musical play. This helps because it provides a clear frame of reference for making musical decisions. You will shift the focus of judging your own writing from your own opinion to what is best for the goal.
  • ask yourself what is the definition of forced. How do you know when a musical idea is forced?
  • Play the music to someone else and get some feedback. Maybe they don't think it's forced. The could find it to be connected musically.
  • Variations of a theme. This is a tried and true technique.
  • Have patience, sometimes ideas need some time to brew in our brains.

This might be fairly obvious - and restricting, which is why others may not want to endorse it - but the best way to develop musical ideas without feeling like you're forcing it is to only work on music when inspiration strikes.

This is probably a no-go if you work in the music industry, but if all you are is a music hobbyist (like me), such a schedule is often fine to stick to and maintain.

I must admit that I still tend to force it somewhat often, including when composing for contests and composing inner sections of classical music. Probably like you, my favourite compositions of mine tend to be non-contest entries (or compositions made for very lenient contests such as "anything newer than this post that is 4 minutes long or less is accepted, due date is a month from this post") - most of my contest entries had to follow fairly restrictive rules that I often felt like I had to force music through and use several of my worse musical ideas for.

I have several musical works in progress on my computer, some of which have not been updated in years, and several of my compositions involve a musical form (sometimes considerably detailed) chosen in advance where inspiration for any of its musical themes did not come until several weeks after I chose the form. I even have lengthy melodies (20 seconds or longer each) of my very incomplete Symphony No. 1 in G Minor stored only in my mind and emitted on occasion when I sing them to myself alone. All of these ended up this way because of my basic tendency to only work on music, especially those works, when I get the inspiration to work on them further.

There is a considerable cost to only composing when inspiration strikes, but if you want to feel the best about all your completed music, it might still be worth the cost.


I think part of the problem is pitting "natural" and "forcing it" against each other, especially when you then ask "how to develop?"

If "natural" is some kind of intuitive, "without thinking about it" type process, then "developing an idea" seems the very opposite of that. Developing an idea is where method and technique come into play.

If you demand of yourself that everything flow out "naturally" with no effort, revision, method, etc. it seems you set yourself up for frustration. The worst thing, IMO, is you set yourself up for feeling you don't have natural ability and so aren't good enough.

Don't expect everything to be perfect and effortless, and quick.

To pick just one of many, many songwriter anecdotes, if Paul McCartney could used "Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/Not as much as I love scrambled eggs" as the working lyric for yesterday, I think we can get away with using filler until a better idea develops.

As far as specific methods and techniques are concern, there is plenty of stuff to find in song writing books. But I don't think that is the issue. The first thing is to not get hung up on "forcing it" as failure.

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