Inspiration can be hard to find on the road. The stress, the need to stick to the schedule, and the pressure to find some time to practice can all make it hard to come up with anything new. While you don’t need to come up with new songs a lot, it helps keep your set lists fresh.
However, don’t assume that finding inspiration is impossible. Finding insights and ideas on the road can happen. Here are some of the things that have worked out for us over the years.
One idea is to listen to a genre you don’t usually hear.
Sticking to your “sound” can be an excellent way to characterise your music. However, it also means that after a while, your ideas are locked in an echo chamber. Try listening to other “sounds,” other styles. Most of it you’ll probably not like, but you’ll pick up an idea or two that can inspire you.
Take a night out.
If stress is getting in your way, de-stress. Take a night off, turn off the phone – or at least stop paying attention to every little notification. Maybe have your favourite food for a meal, find a quiet place. Do whatever it is that takes your mind off your worries.
Work within constraints.
We are always being told to think outside the box. Here’s the problem, musicians are artists. By default, they think outside the box. The real challenge for us is to think within a box.
Give yourself a deadline. Actual pressure can do wonders for inspiring creativity.
Pick a theme and work within it. Most of the time, the theme comes in the lyrics, but that’s not necessary. Sometimes, even the melody can carry it. A theme can be so powerful that it can inspire entire discographies.
Read a book. Great ideas are great ideas, no matter where they come from. A turn of phrase, a scene, or even just a casual gesture in literature can inspire entire albums.