Here are some win-win ways good for amateurs and experts alike.
1. Buy a box of file folders, and G.O. (Get Organized). Don't do like I did! Years ago I put my first 20 or so songs
Place any song that has potential in its own folder, and use a single folder (maybe a colored one) for all your mediocre songs and those scraps of song that may never get completed. My father used to say "Paper is cheap!" But confusion is discouraging and costly.
2. Sensitize your powers of observation. When I started writing and publishing articles for children I grabbed some library books written by my favorite children's authors, and pored through them, writing down each colorful action verb. Words like flashed, danced, rippled, and soared spoke so much more graphically than did said, did, said, did, and ran.
3. Experiment. Break out of the mold, then break the mold. Vary your routine. Try a new lyrical or melodic style. If you record, try some new voice samples. Don't be afraid to jam and see what gels.
4. Invest a bit of money. A used book, a new CD— even a week-long seminar— will further your education immediately, and much more economically than a year pursuing a degree.
5. Prime your creative juices with parallel disciplines. Huh? Yep, when you learn a foreign language or a new instrument, or read a book by some creative, out-of-the-box-and-off-the-wall thinker, all of that stuff conspires to teach and empower your sub-conscious person. And it will make MORE of a difference than you imagine. Focus, memorize, work through the pain, sweat, and discouragement, and keep on educating yourself.
Our English Alphabet, and All of life starts with "A": A.S.K.— Ask, Seek, Knock, and watch doors open (the Bible, Matt.7:7-8).
6. Analyze some good verse. Yes, this overlaps my point number two a bit, but it's extremely important, and it's Free!
Here's an example, a few lines of a hymn I wrote many years ago, containing some thoughts from the 90th Psalm and elsewhere. It's been printed in 4 or 5 different hard-cover hymnals, by various publishers, with hundreds of thousands of copies in print.
Notice the word pictures in these three, simple, chorus lines from verse one:
"I am but a man, my years are but a day;
Short will be my stand, and brief will be my stay,
And I will not again e'er pass along this way--
Teach me, O Lord, to number my days...etc.
...and verse two:
"Life is like the sand, soon trickled through the glass;
Flowers we appear, to perish as the grass;
A thousand years with Thee as yesterday is past,
Teach me, O Lord, to number my days...etc."
Yes, they're simple lines, and they flow to a simple tune carrying a simple, 4-part harmony. But the double (internal) rhyme— coupled with a strong melody— packs a powerful punch. It's a fun, singable song with some thoughts worth singing.
Big blessings on you and your writing, till we meet.