SongTown: Five Tips to Get Out of a Writing Rut and Spark New Ideas

(Image credit: Cindy Moorhead)

We all get ‘em. Those moments when inspiration doesn’t seem to come around.

What do you do? Pound your head agains the wall? Maybe.

How about a better strategy?

Here hit songwriter Clay Mills shares his tips for bumping yourself out of that rut. Check ‘em out!

1. Switch instruments.
If you write on guitar, get an inexpensive keyboard and bang around a bit. You’ll be amazed at how unfamiliar territory gets your creative juices flowing. You can always switch back to your regular instrument to perfect your new idea once it’s born.

2. Change tempos.
If you write a lot of ballads try uptempo and vice versa. One great tool for doing this is to put on a drum loop and write to the loop tempo.

3. Change tunings.
If you are a guitar player try a new tuning. I switched a few years ago to DADGAD, started fumbling around, and wrote “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” for Darius Rucker.

4. Listen up.
Start listening to new styles of music that you normally don’t. Search for things about it you like. A cool lyric line, a rhythm, or an instrument sound. We grow be liking new things and learning from others.

5. Co-write.
This is a great way to expand what you do and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to hangout and create music with a new friend! Write on!

Clay Mills is a 11-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. His songs have been recorded by such artist as Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Babyface, Reba McEntire, and Kimberly Locke. He has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Follow him here:, at, and at or visit Twiiter@SongTownUSA

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