#2. Starting in motion.
Write a verse (with lyrics and melody). Instead of I V vi IV (the most used 4-chord progression in pop music of the last 40 years), try IV I V vi.
In the key of C, this would be: F C G Am
In the key of A: D A E F#m
In the key of D: G D A Bm
Meta: This is a gentle chord-based way to start down a less obvious road. It starts your song on a chord that is not ‘home’, so the song starts in motion. The last chord, the vi, is also a motion chord, so the progression itself, though simple, has a lot of movement and tension in it.
I enjoyed this David Bennett video analysing the chord progressions of Taylor Swift’s songs (there are some she’s used more than 20 times…), and seeing this one feature heavily.