Every good songwriter has their moments when the words just don't come out right or a sound is not working. No need to worry, it happens. Inspiration isn't always something that is voluntary. These to get the creative flow going again and help better the craft of songwriting.
Know your surroundings at all times. You never know when someone in the line at the grocery store or an actor on TV might say a phrase or even just a word that sparks inspiration. Bob Dylan used to sit in coffee shops and people watch, creating scenarios in his head and wrote about them. As a songwriter, it is a good idea to always have a small notepad on hand or a handy smartphone app to take notes such as Catch Notes or the simple AK Notepad.
Draft and Rewrite
It's ok to not have a complete song right away. The songs that come out in 15 minutes flat are always the ones to keep and continue strengthening them. But if that's not the case, don't be afraid to rework lines or sketch out ideas - leaving out rhymes if necessary to go back to and write. We are often our own worst critics so try not to be too tough on oneself and silence the voice that says "This isn't good enough." Rewriting verses or single lines is not against the rules.
Lyrics Paint Vivid Pictures
Lyrics paint vivid pictures in our minds of what the song is saying to us. How we interpret them is up to us but the mental images are still there. When writing a song, try to avoid using cliches for the sake of rhyming. It doesn't always sound the best because it's been done a hundred times before. Start by creating a title different ways, either writing based on a title or wait until the thought is complete and title the song after it's written. It's not uncommon for songwriters to title a song based on the theme of the song, never using the title in the song. Try writing more than needed and go back and cut verses or merge them in each segment. Make sure the thought is clear, not leaving the listener to wonder what was just said. Chances are they won't listen to it if they don't understand the topic.
Try composing the arrangement first. If writing a pop song, the backing tracks tend to not be complex and quite simple that allows for a vocal melody to decorate. What kind of mood is being felt? Write based on what the feeling is, use instruments and chords that accent that mood. Once the backing track is founded, go back and listen to what the song is saying then. Does it evoke a different emotion? Or does the emotion become clearer in a way that lyrics can begin to be sketched? Never be afraid to step out of the box when composing and trying something new. If it's not satisfactory, the composition can be changed later when the song is fully written.
Get creative in ways to write songs! Pick up a magazine and when you're done with it, cut words from it and arrange them on a table or piece of paper and form ideas. Try putting them in a box and shaking it up and drawing random words, again placing them in lines putting ideas together. It might be boring to read a dictionary, but opening the book to random pages and spotting words you may not know sparks a world of new words to rhyme and sequence. Playing games like Scrabble or the popular Words With Friends can teach new words played by the other player. Keep a journal as well. Jot down random thoughts, phrases and words heard or learned by these activities. Perhaps during a phone call with your best friend you can listen closely and write down the daily drama and create a story from a few lines said, writing vicariously through the conversation.
Include A Partner
Write with another person, talking about relationships, life events, dreams, even failures. Two heads are better than one and what the other person is thinking or relating may be different than your own feelings. Take turns writing lines and phrases and don't get offended if a line they create reworks one of your own. Many songwriters have writing partners perhaps because one writes better lyrics than a composition. Elton John wrote compositions while Bernie Taupin wrote lyrics. A partner doesn't have to be permanent, just a co-writer on a song.
Dissect Your Favorite Songs
Pick apart your favorite songs. Does the bass line stand out more than the rhythm guitar? Where are the vocals doubled and harmonized? Does the song use 4/4? Look up the chords of the songs and figure out all the notes involved with the chords. Is the song a minor key or major? Is it in the key of C or Am? Find instrumental or karaoke versions on YouTube or karaoke sites that offer songs to download. Study them and their structure. Try writing a reworked version of your favorite song without having it be comparable to the original. There are also programs such as Goldwave that will flip the stereo field of a song and allow you to listen to underlying parts, such as the rhythm guitar or backing vocals.
Keep writing and making better the art of songwriting!