- Published Apr 11, 2014 in Signal Flow
In a rut? Playing the same old tunes? Nothing new under the sun? Get out of your head and into a brand new space. You'll be happy you did.
It isn't easy to stay inspired in what can often seem like the uninspiring routine we all find ourselves in. Whether afflicted with the block, out of ideas, or just wallowing in the mire of late winter, inspiration can be an elusive son-of-a-gun at the time you need it most. Here are a few tips to keep dreaming:
1 Use a voice recording app.
Chances are, you have a smart device of some kind at this crux in your life. And on this handy dandy device, you will find a generous selection of free voice recording apps. It doesn't have to be fancy—and really any will do—as long as it performs one fundamental function, which is recording your voice. Hum melodies while driving, sing a lyric that pops in your head in the ladies room, just be sure to keep this archive growing. Then, in times of creative famine, you can feast on your stash of goodies.
2 Steal something.
The best musicians are thieves that don't get caught. Think about a song that you have heard before, one that moves or excites you, and play it for a minute in your head. Jot down some alternate lyrics, chords or melodies with a bit of abandon. Now, focus on your creative process using what you came up with as a springboard. By no means am I suggesting plagiarizing; I am simply suggesting that you pull some mojo from the music that turns you on.
3 Go see a local band.
Get out to a venue and see a live performance in close quarters. This intimate setting will refresh the palette for your own musical stylings. You may even meet some other musicians or choose to get up and perform yourself.
Going out to see a local band is a good way to get out of your tired old headspace. Supporting local music is also good for the soul.
4 Have a jam session.
Call up some of your musical pals or get the old band together for the weekend. Get your juices flowing with some synergy. There is nothing better than a good collaboration to beef up your writing Kung-Fu.
5 Learn a new cover (and twist it).
Cover a song from an artist people wouldn't expect. For example, if you are a female singer-songwriter, rearrange a rock or techno song as a ballad. If you are a male rock singer, take a pop song with a female vocalist and make it your own. Record yourself performing it and throw it up on some social media sites. Maybe even go back to that open mic night and play it live.
6 Keep a notebook.
Wherever it is that you frequent to channel your inner Lennon, keep a good old fashioned notebook and pencil. As lyrics or progressions come to mind, write them down and leave yourself notes. These doodles don't have to be fleshed out masterpieces, just the gist of what you were tinkering with. Over time you will build your own vault of lyrical and musical snippets. Then, when you hit a roadblock during your next writing session, you can pull from your bank of goodies.
7 Go to a concert.
Go see a big concert, an orchestra, your favorite band, whatever tickles your fancy. Seeing professional musicians in all their glory never fails to hit the creative lobe.
8 Scribble away.
Sometimes it is difficult to write a linear set of lyrics. We get consumed with making them rhyme or fit in time or complete a story; which can kill the mood and the creative zone in an instant. When you encounter this situation, which we inevitably all do, start writing out any words or phrases that come to mind. They don't have to make sense, or even relate to one another. This process will keep your brain clicking, and help you work past the rut you were stuck in. What you will end up with is a nice set of cue words to work off. Having pages of cue words to add to your aforementioned notebook and lyric bank will only equip your future writing sessions.
9 Watch a documentary.
An old Beatles movie, VH1 Behind the Music, Where Are They Now? Feel free to choose your poison. There is a certain catharsis in seeing your brethren fight the good fight; the rise, the fall, the heartaches, the success. All of us musicians secretly obsess over being the starving artist. And truthfully, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll will never get old.
10 Play. A lot.
The next time you are searching for inspiration, and are feeling less than, remind yourself to think outside the box. We live in a world filled with stories and emotions just waiting to be told. Remember, no one ever got creative without getting creative.