The Songwriter’s Journal

TSJ 2Inspiration for Songwriters

Stan Swanson
Retail Price: $14.95
Publisher: Stony Meadow Publishing
Publication Date: January 2007
Pages: 220
ISBN: 978-0-9787925-1-0

Whether you are new to songwriting or have written hundreds of songs, “The Songwriter’s Journal” should be within arm’s reach whenever the mood to write a new tune strikes. It is packed with the fuel you need to ignite the imagination and provides you with more ideas than you could ever hope to write about. With hundreds of entries designed specifically to spark the muse within, the book should reside on every songwriter’s bookshelf or desk. It includes songwriting exercises, chord progressions for new songs, word association exercises, ideas to write new songs about, note sequences for new songs, power words to include in your lyrics, items that belong in every songwriter’s toolkit and much more.



This is not a book you read; it’s a book you do. It’s a great workbook for songwriters, with sections for every week of the year. It includes places to jot down ideas, word games to inspire lyrics, chord progressions and melody lines to play with, and space to write a whole song, plus lists of “power words,” quotes from famous songwriters and information about songwriting resources. I just wrote my first week’s song, and I’m having a hard time keeping myself from reading ahead to next week. In fact, if I didn’t have other things to do, I could just cuddle up with this book for the winter and write one song after another. Or I could use it whenever I feel stuck. This book would work well for poets, too. It’s so much fun. – Susan Lick

The subtitle, “songwriting ideas and inspiration,” accurately describes this book. As one reviewer commented, it is rambling and not “organized.” Each of the 52 2-3 page sections is an independent, random unit of ideas and things to spark ideas and images to make a song from. (A shotgun approach to writing one song a week.) I like the idea. Within each “week’s” pages, it is completely random. The chord progression, tips, themes, etc. are unrelated to each other. I think the purpose is that if even one bit strikes you, it is worthwhile; which I agree with. I like the idea very much. Scattered among the nuggets of ideas and inspirations were helpful recommendations for best low cost acoustic guitar, best introductory music recording software, best drum machine, and a list of other recommended books (I already own one of those recommended books and found it excellent, which gives me confidence in the author’s other recommendations.)  I think this would be an excellent book for breaking out of writer’s block. Then get a songwriting book (which the author kindly provides recommendations for) to turn the ideas into developed lyrics. —Ted (Amazon review)

“The Songwriter’s Journal: 52 Weeks Of Songwriting Ideas And Inspiration” by professional songwriter Stan Swanson was written to both provide aspiring songwriters with ideas and inspirations for new songs, and a forum in which to jot down their daily notes, thoughts, ideas, and musical notations over the course of a year’s time. The formula is straightforward: ‘An Idea to Write a Song About’; ‘Note Sequence for a Song’; ‘Power Words’; ‘Cliches, Expressions, Slang and Idioms’; ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’s Greatest Songs of All Time’; and ‘Songwriter’s Toolkit’; followed by a page of blank lines and a musical score section just waiting to be filled in. Of special note are the sections arranged by the week and devoted to providing an opportunity to address and record ‘Songwriting Exercises’; ‘Song Titles’; ‘Chord Procession for a Song’; ‘Word Association Exercises’; and ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’ which showcases a particular musician composer. “The Songwriter’s Journal” is an invaluable tool and very strongly recommended for the novice songwriter, and has a great deal of utility and value for even the more experienced composer. –Midwest Book Review

This is a really great idea, and one my 12 year old son and I (age 50) are both having fun with. My son is using piano (yep, he plays most every day and is in to improvising and taking the next step in his musical journey), me guitar. There’s a journal format that encourages developing an individual’s song ideas on a regular basis. The hardest part in writing this book is coming up with 52 basically unique sets of entries for – useful songwriting exercises, and sample chord progressions ( this alone is worth the price of the book). There are 13 separate thought invoking ideas (52 x 13) in each week’s entry incl. cliches, expressions, power words, word association, and famous songwriters thoughts. There is another segment in there called songwriter toolkit with recording, technical advice and other books about rhyming, lyrics, etc. It’s one thing to read a lecture on songwriting, but to figure out how to write songs, most of us need both ideas and motivation. I like this book for both. – Jon Hood


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *