How To Boost Your Songwriting Creativity

Feeling creatively stuck, lost, or lacking, is an uncomfortable reality that all musicians inevitably face at some point during their careers. Whether it’s the nauseating sense that you’re writing the same song over and over again, or the inability to finish ideas, lacking creative potency can be frustrating. This especially goes for musicians who appear to be bursting with original ideas one day and none the next.

An unconventional way for musicians to address this problem is by thinking about their own unique musical taste. What you like isn’t exactly what you’ll make as a musician, but it’s connected in a big way. Challenging your music taste can get you thinking about music in a new way, and in turn, help to boost your own creativity.

Musical taste isn’t permanent

We like to think that music taste is something as fixed and unchanging as a genetic trait, but that’s not true. Most of us develop our interest in music during our teenage years and listen to similar music for the rest of our lives. But the artists you dug when you were 15 don’t have to shape the music you make when you’re 25. Similar to dragging yourself to the gym, breaking out of the mold of music taste takes work. It doesn’t feel natural to want to leap up off the couch and exercise, even though it’s good for you. It also doesn’t feel comfortable to seek out new artists and question why you appreciate certain types of music, but doing so can shake up your creativity in meaningful ways.

Questioning your musical taste as an exercise

Challenging your musical taste doesn’t mean trying to erase your preferences and start over––that’s impossible and it misses the point. Instead, it means questioning why you like the things you do. What exactly is it about a band or artist is it that you love? If there’s a song you can’t stop listening to, why? And if there’s artists, eras of music, or complete genres you’ve never been compelled to listen to, you should stop and think about why while you’re at it. This is an exercise that will help you pinpoint what aspects of music speak to you and which ones you’re not interested in. By identifying and understanding your preferences, you’ll have a better feel for how your taste impacts your songwriting.

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Bring in the new

Challenging your taste also means making an effort to listen to unfamiliar music. Try listening to something like a musical genre you’ve never explored of before. You may love what you hear or will get a better understand of why you were never interested in it in the first place. Either way, defining what resonates with you and what bores or frustrates you about the music will strengthen your taste. If you can, see unfamiliar music performed live. Making the effort to listen to challenging new music will broaden your taste and musical perspective.

A familiar theme when it comes to maintaining creativity is embracing discomfort. There seems to be a link between a person’s creativity and their willingness to take risks and embrace the unfamiliar. If you’re struggling to bring creativity to your music, it might be time to break out of your songwriting habits. Beginning with looking at your own musical preferences is a good start.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

JayHow To Boost Your Songwriting Creativity

7 comments

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  • Tynee - May 23, 2019 reply

    How can I make it? I know I’d a very good talent in music but how can I be so good at song writing and even singing…I wish to be a musician

    M.S. - May 23, 2019 reply

    Listen to music you love. Artists you aspire to be like, and listen to their lyrics. As you listen, start to form your own words and lyrics. Write your own version of a song you like.
    Imulate the melody but use your own words. After some practice, try finding instrumentals that inspire your thinking.

  • Alexander Hudson - May 23, 2019 reply

    Just sit and write a page of lyrics starting with a title then pick up your guitar or whatever instrument you play strum a few chords and start singing keep going till you’ve got a definate melody and chord sequence, record it and see if it works, if not start the process again once more…good luck

    Joie - May 23, 2019 reply

    thanks Alexander! even if you don’t play an instrument like me…you can still grab a keyboard and plink at it or even start a couple handslaps on a notebook…I love what you said because it keeps it simple and easy when sometimes ya just need someone to say something simple so you can try it…very grateful!

  • Jim Hutter - May 23, 2019 reply

    I actually assessed my tastes when I was 15 in 1979. I wondered why I loved 1950’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and 1960’s British Invasion but did not care for then-contemporary 1970’s Rock. When I figured it out, it opened my mind to Punk and New Wave. I became open to many new sounds (Synth-Pop, Grunge, Dark Wave), and rediscovered many that I had previously passed upon (Glam Rock).

    As for eras, I grew up feeling compelled to hate anything that happened before 1955, the onset of the Rock Era. When I analyzed why, it was because Pre-Rock was considered “uncool” among ‘seventies youth. Once I overcame that prejudice, I came to love Early Jazz, Swing, and popular vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole.

    Now, I am waiting for Classical to reveal itself and move me to the same highs as Rock.

    Ariana Saraha - May 25, 2019 reply

    Jim, your story made me smile 🙂 Good work, and good array of tastes!

  • Massimo Lajolo - May 23, 2019 reply

    I like very much this blog, it’s well done, interesting and stimulates creativity. Thank you

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