When studying in my introductory Lyric Writing class at Berklee College of Music, I was introduced to a concept that changed my approach to songwriting moving forward - song seeds.
A song seed is exactly what you might expect: a seed from which a song can grow. In other words, the roots of a new idea. A short lyrical phrase, interesting title, melody, chord progression, groove, or concept. The possibilities are endless.
The reason why song seeds are so important is that they provide a streamlined way to collect fleeting ideas. This comes in handy as a songwriter living an active daily life, as inspiration does not care where you are or what you're doing; you'll often find an idea when you're least expecting it, in the middle of a busy day. Song seeds provide the opportunity to quickly store those ideas and develop a collection of ideas to look back on when you're feeling uninspired or need a foundation to jump off of when beginning a new song. Song seeds are also particularly useful for co-writing - it allows you to bring a handful of possibilities to the table.
As I mentioned, a song seed is essentially what we call an idea. This can exist in any form - you may record a melodic idea to your cell phone's voice memos on your way home from the grocery store, or overhear an interesting line from a conversation on the bus and write it down in a journal or type it in a note. Either way, if something catches your attention, it is important that you write it down or record it immediately. Your inspiration can only do half of the work - it is your job to catch those ideas and transform them into something tangible before they move on.
For example - my song "Salt" was born from a voice recording I created while sitting in traffic one evening on my way home from my day job in Nashville.
“Art is born in attention.” - Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity