For some, hearing the words “step out of your comfort zone” will cause immediate aversion. For others, it may stir up a sense of excitement. Whether the concept holds immediate interest for you or not, pushing yourself out of your neutral territory is key for personal growth, which is especially true as it applies to creativity! Trying new things with your songwriting is a great way to create inspiration. Here are a few ideas you can experiment with.
1. Write with a different instrument
You may not be very good at your secondary instrument, but that’s the point – when you don’t know what you’re doing, sometimes you end up doing creative things because you’re not playing from muscle memory. This could be a good opportunity to ask for help from a musical friend who can show you some new things on an instrument you don’t normally have access to.
Can’t get ahold of another instrument? Use your voice! Creating melodies, harmonies, or just messing around with syllables and sounds can be a great start to a new piece.
2. Try out a different genre
Understandably, songwriters tend to write in the style of what they consume the most – it’s only natural. And, granted, it’s not simple to write in a style you don’t know much about. Start with a genre you haven’t tried working in, but are familiar with. If your main interest is folk, you could attempt rewriting a song you’ve completed in a rock style, or making it into an electronic piece. Taking things a little out of your comfort zone in this way can help you branch out without being totally lost.
3. Write someone else’s story
Sometimes you may find yourself on the listening end for a friend, and while you may not have lived the same experiences, you probably (hopefully) feel sympathetic to his or her plight. Instead of your own thoughts, try writing theirs. It can show you a new perspective, but could also shed some light on the situation for the other person as well!
4. Write from the opposite perspective
There are always at least two sides to every story. If you tend to write from your own experiences, see if you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes, as it will likely be the harder perspective to understand and articulate. This isn’t only an exercise in creativity, but also an exercise in empathy!
5. Listen to music that’s out of the ordinary for you
Put something on you that wouldn’t typically listen to. This could be a friend’s suggestion, or even better, go see the live show! Try to be objective and listen analytically, and you might hear something you like that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. This way, you get the chance to think creatively, and at the same time, discover new music!
6. Give collaboration a shot
One of the absolute best ways to get out of your songwriting comfort zone is by co-writing. Finding a songwriter whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own can lead to a lasting partnership, and great music, too. Try searching SongwriterLink (it’s totally free!) to find co-writers who will inspire you and make you better at your craft.