When you have difficulties writing good music, there can be any number of causes. Often we blame our level of creativity when there are other more likely suspects: fatigue, disorganization, fear of failure, and so on.
It’s tricky to blame our level of creativity because we’re inclined to believe that creativity is similar to a pool of water: the pool contains a fixed amount, and so there’s not much that can be done to fix that.
But in fact, there are many things you can do to improve your creative abilities. In effect, you can deepen the pool from which you pull your songwriting ideas. But how do you do that?
Here are some ideas for increasing your musical imagination:
- Develop creative, non-musical, activities. Writing songs means that you’re always processing your creative abilities in much the same way, day in and day out. You’ll find it refreshing to approach creativity in a new, less-tested way. So try painting, sculpture, acting, writing short stories, or any other activity that allows you to tap into your creative mind in a new and innovative way.
- Change where you write. If your songwriting process is structured to the point that you write in the same chair every day, it’s time to change things up. Try sitting in a park or at the beach, or in a local coffee shop, or even at the local mall. You’ll find that the ambient noises associated with those locations will create a new backdrop for you creative process. In fact, ambient noise can increase your level of creativity.
- Try writing in new genres. If you write in the same genre all the time, you’ll find that your creative process tends to move along very predictable lines. No wonder you feel a lack of creativity! So try writing in genres you don’t normally tackle. You’ll find new processes, new melodic structures, even new chord progressions and a new way of processing lyrics.
- Teach songwriting. Do you have a niece or nephew or family friend that needs help with their songwriting? It will amaze you how helpful it can be to your own songwriting technique to teach others. Teaching requires you to systemize, at least to a certain extent, your songwriting process. By helping others, you help to clarify your own technique, and that can enhance your own creative abilities.
- Try a songwriting partnership. You might find that songwriting becomes a much different kind of activity when you partner up with someone else to write a song. Collaborations allow you to see someone else’s process up close, and it can energize you in very powerful ways. Be sure that the partnership you form is clearly defined — preferably in writing, if you’re doing it professionally.
Your own personal level of creativity comes in large part from your life experiences. So some of the best ways to improve creativity don’t specifically involve music — improvement will come from living an interesting and full life. Meeting and interacting with others who are likewise trying to become more creative can be the best way to stimulate and develop your creative mind.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter
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