Here are 5 ways you can change your songwriting process, and the results may make you surprised on how they put your sense of creativity back on the fast track:
1. Break out of the same old verse-chorus-bridge design. If every song you write starts with an intro, then moves on to a couple of verse-chorus sections, followed by a bridge and ending with a couple of chorus repeats… Or anything like that, no wonder you feel devoid of creativity. What else can you try? How about starting with the chorus, like this: Chorus-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-verse-chorus. Or how about: Solo-verse-solo-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus. Or any other way you would prefer to try, just something different that your usual routine.
2. Change rooms. Songwriters are creatures of habit, and we all usually like to do our writing in the same location. So change it up once in a while. Ever tried writing in the park? On a bus? In the attic of your house? It will surprise you what a new location does for your musical imagination. So, grab your smartphone or digital recording device, and get creative.
3. Change genres. You may not like, let’s say, country music. But have you ever tried writing it? You’ll find that early in the process of writing your first country tune, you’ll gain an appreciation and respect for it. You’ll find that you tap into a different part of your creative soul every time you change genres. The payoff often comes when you switch back to your favorite genre. You find that you’ve got a new vocabulary of musical ideas that you can use, ideas that make your songs unique and fresh.
4. Try a melody-first songwriting process. You may think that creating melodies without a chord progression underneath might be difficult, but it’s likely easier than you think. Try this process: Take your smartphone and go for a walk. Start singing random melodies into your phone. You’ll find that your ability to improvise melodies in this way is better than you think. Get as much of a melody working as you can this way. Don’t worry about lyrics yet. When you get home, create a chord progression that can accompany the tune you’ve written. Even if all you have is 4 bars to show for your efforts, it will serve as the idea for the rest of the song’s melodies.
5. Write a song on an instrument you’ve never (or rarely) played before. You don’t need to be very good on an instrument to use it in this way. If you play guitar, you’ll find that many of your songs tend toward a “sameness”. So even if you don’t play keyboards, sit down at a piano and plunk out a tune or find some chords. The benefit of playing a different instrument when you write is that you don’t succumb to “muscle memory.” You’ll find that the melodic shapes you find will differ from the ones you tend to always default to on your normal instrument of choice.
The moral of the story here is this: the sooner in your songwriting process you change things up, the greater the chance that your song will sound innovative and fresh. The more you change things up, the more creative you’ll feel.