Humans are habit-forming creatures, which can be both good and bad for musicians. Routines are ideal for stuff like practicing an instrument or getting plenty of rehearsal time in for an upcoming performance, but they can wreak havoc on a person’s creative potential. Habits stifle creativity when they remove the potential of risk and newness from the music-making process. If you’re someone who struggles with succumbing to bland routines and predictable habits in your songwriting efforts, we’ve got three tips to help:
Experiment with writing a song in an unfamiliar genre
Flipping genres, even if it’s just for one song, can open up your mind to a host of new creative possibilities. Working with the same lyrical ideas, instruments, tempos, and production techniques can lead to writing the same sounding music over and over again, so seeing how the other half lives by experimenting with another genre fights musical tedium through exposing songwriters to foreign ideas, tools, and themes. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable and even a bit out of place during this process. In fact, that’s the point. You know the whole story behind your usual songwriting process, so consider putting yourself in a new one by writing a song in an unfamiliar genre.
Take a break from music
Prescribing less music-making as a way to inject newness into your songwriting process might seem odd, but hear me out. Like any other creative endeavor, it takes a huge amount of time, energy, and resources to make music. Sometimes musicians insist on pressing on through the creative process when what they really should be doing is taking some time off. A day, a week, a couple of months––the right amount of time to step away from music is different for everyone, but breaks are crucial for recharging the creative batteries. If you’re bored with your songwriting process, it might be because you’re out of ideas and creative momentum. Music interprets and imitates life, so the best thing for your work might be to do some non-musical living for a while. Click here to learn if it’s time to take a short break in your music.
Pursue a new musical project with strict boundaries
Songwriters frustrated and out of patience for their processes can see huge creative benefits by adding strict boundaries to their work. This idea gets even more powerful when its put into the context of something like a collection of songs or collaboration. Whether it’s only writing music about a specific theme, exploring only obscure time signatures, or sticking to a set extreme tempo, boundaries can be powerful creative assets that promote innovation and resourcefulness in music.
No matter how talented or creative a musician is, boredom and staleness in the creative process is something everyone struggles with at some point. But rather than fighting against it, musicians stand to experience a great deal of growth and good when they reinvent themselves through creative risk and exploration. The willingness to fail is especially important, and that’s something difficult for musicians to open themselves up to whether they’re new to the game or are seasoned players.
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.