We all have one. That style of writing that we know just works. It just works, it does. It sounds good, it is right smack dab in our style. It feels good when we sing it. The chords work. The melodies work. It just works. We use it over and over….Wait. This is a problem.
Do you ever feel like your songs kinda sound similar? Sure style is one thing, but think about it….do your songs REALLY sound similar? Mine do. Mine really do and it gets bad and frustrating sometimes. Why? Well when I catch myself writing in ‘my style’ and what ‘feels natural,’ that means I am swimming in familiar waters and writing in my comfort zone. Recently I have come to believe that means I am not growing. I am at a plateau and risking doing things I have done over and over…even though I do them pretty damn good. It’s OK everyone does this, and it isn’t always bad….but we need to know how to NOT do that.
How do you get out of your comfort zone? Here are a few ideas on how to break out of your songwriting comfort zones:
1. Work with a new cowriter
2. If you write chords first usually…..start with lyrics
3. If you write lyrics first usually…..start with just a melody
4. If you write words and music at the same time usually…..stop and break it into each part and do only 1 at a time
5. Copy chord progressions from songs you like, but would never attempt writing
6. Copy the title of a hit song and try to write your song about a story that is completely different from the original
7. If you write your songs from start to finish…example: start with verse, then write chorus, then bridge…..do it backwards. Start from the end of the song
8. Take your favorite standby chord progression and play it backwards
9. If you write songs using 3 or 4 chords, try writing a whole song with just 1 or 2 chords
10. If you usually write slow songs, write fast ones for awhile or vice versa
11. Does it take you a weeks to write a song? Try writing a full song in 1 hour! remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, just write the damn thing, even if you feel stupid and lost.
12. If you usually write melodies based on chord tones….try picking notes that are not in the chords. Practice singing those notes over the chords…..start retraining your ear to not hear the same things all the time (I am VERY guilty of this one)
So there are just 12 ways you can start getting out of your comfort zone. There are more. Do you have any you can share? Post them below…. The idea here is to not get stuck in that rut of writing your same 5 songs over and over again. Have fun in not being perfect, have fun with the process of experimenting and trying new things. I am very sure that some of your tests will result in some cool songs. You can post those too, if you like.