by Clay Mills
May 20, 2020
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.
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
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