Hey everyone! Welcome to this special edition of Songwriting & You! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about different ways to approach the songwriting process from different angles in order to kick-start things.

Continuing that trend, this week starts the first entry in little tips and tricks I’ve found that all help out but aren’t all explicitly related: kinda like when you open up that one drawer and find a whole bunch of stuff you used to use! Let’s dive in.

Do you ever get stuck? Feel like you’re in a bind? Have you ever had any of these symptoms:

  • Sucking at guitar
  • Yelling at inanimate objects
  • Questioning your existence
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Forgetting what plants are
  • Sudden urge to listen to Free Jazz
  • Hemorrhoids

Then you might have writer’s block! Or possibly be having a stroke. Do you smell toast? This article is just for you!

Cover A Song

In all seriousness, sometimes it’s just easier to do something than to read about it. I do my best as a columnist here at WG to help out, but there’s no real substitute to just picking up your instrument and going for it. In the case of covering a song, you’re already at a massive advantage: everything’s done for you.

All you’re concerned with is mimicking the original work and paying tribute to it, you don’t need to even worry about songwriting!

The beautiful thing about covering songs is that you can examine what’s going on while you’re learning it. As you learn the song, you’ll be digesting the chord progression, the tempo, the way the rhythm flows, and all the licks. It’s easier to think about how they all fit together, too, because someone already did it.

In particular, I recommend covering a song you enjoy and have heard a lot. This helps you digest everything and understand what’s going on so that you can have that wonderful “Oh that’s what’s going on there!” moment.

Jam With People

I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Actually working with other real musicians – which, hands up everyone, we’ve all been there – really gets at the human element of music. You’ll get to learn from other people, and, more importantly, other people will be able to hold you accountable as a player and a musician.

When I was still starting out on guitar, I learned guitar on heavy metal. I listened to all different genres, but I couldn’t play them yet. So, when I jammed with my friend Jason who plays the blues better than anyone I know, I kind of fumbled along as I played.

It was a very humbling experience, but I learned a lot about cadences, feel, and just how to play. It’s for this reason that I recommend jamming with people who don’t necessarily play what you play.

Play A Different Genre

On the note of playing with differently styled musicians, there’s nothing wrong with immersing yourself in a new environment. It’s like learning a new language: the best way to learn a new language is to go to the new country and really live it. From there, it becomes a sink or swim situation: you’ll either succeed or you won’t.

Transferring that to songwriting, when you play strictly in one genre, you have to work on using the conventions of that genre. Tapping like a coked-up shredlord of the 80s won’t really work in an alternative rock setting. Having a super rigid right hand will get you kicked out of any funk band faster than saying “bomb” on an airplane.

Work with what’s there and learn something new.

Go See A Show

I never feel more inspired to write than after I watch a band kick some serious ass on stage. Being out in the crowd watching people do what they love is an experience unlike any other. The adrenaline gets going, the atmosphere is lively, and the room is just so full of energy.

Plus, it’s just a good time!

Break Up With Someone

I’m only half-joking.

How many songs can you think of that are based on super happy fun times where everything is just goin’ super? Probably not many. If you’re like me, you puked a little reading that.

People write best under stress. It gives them inspiration, it effortlessly provides emotional depth, and it’s certainly a lot easier to write lyrics when you’ve always got something on your mind. Now, I’m not recommending that you go and leave your perfectly happy relationship or blow up at someone at the drop of a hat. If you’re not feeling inspired, try and remember a time when you were struggling, or when you were passionate.

Alternatively, if your significant other sucks, maybe call it quits.

Get A New Toy

Who doesn’t love pedals?! They add a new way to explore your sound, they’re easy to use, they’re relatively cheap, and best of all… they have super cool designs.

Haven’t you always wanted a fuzz with Cthulhu on it? Of course you have! And you also want a Reverb that has a wizard in a cave, right? Absolutely you do! We even have a column that features many pedals written by our very own John Waldock, which you can check out here!

Go Outside

Give this a shot… stop playing guitar.

Take a walk. Visit a park. Buy a donut. Run for a mile. Visit friends.

Live a little.


Nico Madden and Wired Guitarist are not responsible for any and all side-effects, which may include accruing debt, becoming more interested in Steely Dan, suddenly having an appreciation for eating glue, growths on your glutes, use of the word A E S T H E T I C, and death.

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This article written by  Nico Madden.


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