5 Ways To Break Out Of Your Writing Rut And Spark New Songs



One of the hardest things a songwriter has to learn to level-up their writing is learning how to avoid or pull themselves out of a songwriting rut. Here are 5 things I’ve learned over my 25-year career that have me avoid songwriting ruts and stay inspired…

Switch instruments to spark new song ideas…

If you write on guitar, get an inexpensive keyboard and bang around a bit. You’ll be amazed at how unfamiliar territory gets your creative juices flowing. You can always switch back to your regular instrument to perfect your new idea once it’s born.

Change Tempos.

If you write a lot of ballads try uptempo and vice verse. One great tool for doing this is to put on a drum loop and write to the loop tempo.

Try a new tuning.

If you are a guitar player experiment with alternate tunings. I switched a few years ago to DADGAD, started fumbling around, and wrote “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” for Darius Rucker. More recently I struck gold with a tuning we jokingly call around SongTown “Drunk Tuning” – CGCGCD. A video lesson I did on this tuning has been one of the most-watched on the SongTown member website. It’s an extremely versatile tuning for songwriting. This is a fav tool of mine for avoiding songwriting ruts. It forces me into new territories.

Start listening to styles of music that you normally don’t.

Search for things about it you like. A cool lyric line, a rhythm, or an instrument sound. We grow by liking new things and learning from others.

Co-write with other songwriters.

This is a great way to expand what you do and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to hang out and create music with a new friend. It’s also one of the best networking tools on the business side of writing as well. If you haven’t tried or had success co-writing, a book like The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing can help you learn the ins and outs.

Write on! ~CM


Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood.

Visit: claymills.com

8 thoughts on “5 Ways To Break Out Of Your Writing Rut And Spark New Songs

  1. Uno mas: Try not using an instrument at all.

    Try singing a melody ia cappella. Once you get past the sound of your own voice—not my fave thing— it gives you the freedom not to go to the same old boxes you go to on your usual axe.

  2. Loved this blog post!! Thank you and good timing. I did try another instrument before this blog and it’s so true that your inspirations and creativity come alive. I cannot wait to try the different tunings you suggested. Thank you so much. Keep em comin’

  3. I thank you Clay or this affirming or RE affirming message. Over the years I have “successfully” tried, and used, more than one of these methods to get me out of ruts. My problem was not sticking to them enough because I was too afraid of what other people might think. Thus the “” around “successfully”I was such a “people pleaser” on this. You folks at Song town are really helping me to break out of this a lot, especially with messages like this one and I thank you very much for this, Duncan.

  4. Great ideas and I’d like to add 1 more to that….learn new tricks and techniques on your instrument…if that happens to be Guitar have I got something for you 🙂

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