Writing your own songs and riffs is one of the most rewarding and fun things you can do as a guitar player.
When you sit down to write a song, inspiration doesn't always magically happen. Many guitar players struggle with writers block, but the good news is there's a way to make your own luck when it comes to inspiration.
Check out these 3 simple ways you can start today.
Overcoming the resistance
One of my favorite books is called the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. The main theme of his book is overcoming "the resistance". The resistance can be anything that's internally or externally preventing you from doing your best work, or something that you love.
This happens to guitarists and other musicians all the time. We make excuses like, "I'll write that hit song tomorrow", "it's not my fault, inspiration isn't here today", and especially, "I don't have the right gear to write music."
There'll always be something that can prevent you from work, but it's important to overcome that feeling to not start today. Rather than waiting for inspiration to strike, each day for 30 mins or more, put on your guitar and just play.
You're not always going to feel inspired every day, but you'll never have a chance to be pleasantly surprised if you don't sit down in the first place, strap on your guitar, and see what happens.
10 a day
Another writer I keep an eye on is James Altucher. One of the biggest things that he preaches is writing down 10 ideas every day no matter what, so you become an idea machine.
This concept works perfectly for riff writing. I remember hearing Rivers Cuomo of Weezer talking about how he had hundreds of songs that he had written. Of course you're going to have songs and riffs that are no good, but the act of trying to write 10, or even just 5 riffs every day could lead to great ideas.
Start with 3-5 riffs a day, don't worry if they're bad or good, and record yourself if possible. I talk about creating a lick library all the time. You can make your own by recording audio or video versions of your riffs. You can even take out your phone and record your ideas.
You'd be surprised at what you hear when you're listening back days or weeks later. You'll often be able to string a lot of these ideas together and make a full song. It's like building a puzzle, piece by piece.
Another great idea I heard was from Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. He said he'd write the catchiest riff he could, and then turn that into the verse, which challenged him to come up with something even more memorable for the chorus.
Challenge yourself each day, and you'll have lots of riffs in no time.
Having fun and setting expectations
You might write something awesome, you might not. Sometimes it's better to incorporate riff/songwriting as part of your practice routine. This gives you a chance to work out the chords, scales or techniques you practiced earlier in a real songwriting session.
Give yourself 30 minutes or so, put on a jam track, and use what you learned in a musical way.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to have fun. If you're always focused on writing a catchy riff or song, you might stress yourself out to the point of not wanting to pick up the guitar at all. We learn the "vocabulary" of the guitar so we can have more fun when we're actually playing a song.
Go into writing with expectations that you may write something not so great, but the more you practice writing, the better you'll get at it. Each time you sit down to practice and write, you make more luck for yourself.