OK so I spent years learning all my favorite guitar songs, (rock, blues, some jazz) in the hope that I'd one magical day reach a skill level acceptable enough for me to begin creating and writing my own. Long story short, I've had a few insane years of no serious play. I still remember all the chords and patterns in my mind, playing them however is a challenge but I am progressing. The thing is, I want to finally DO MY OWN THING but I spend hours trying to, say, play Castles made of Sand flawlessly again. Then I hear a great three chord song by someone like Queens of the Stone Age and feel I'm not working towards MY goal. Help if you can anybody! Should I disregard the old repertoire and let the creative juices finally flow?

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    Q: "Should I disregard the old repertoire and let the creative juices finally flow?" A: Yes, if that's what you want. I think you're asking how to discipline yourself and make effective use of practice time.
    – user43681
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 5:22
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    Also, my suggestion is getting a recording program and playing around with it. Record any ideas as soon as you come up with them. It will only get easier as you get more experience.
    – user43681
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 5:35
  • The oft-quoted 'use a teacher' is the first consideration, if only for a few lessons. A good teacher will point you towards where you feel your goal is, and inspire you far more than we can.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 6:18
  • I went on a very similar journey. In order to start writing, I had to stop playing other people's music almost entirely. I would warm up with scales and then play a song I enjoyed playing to keep it fun, and then I forced myself to only work on new ideas for maybe an hour a day. I did actually learn to write, although I much prefer collaborating with others. The existing answer is good and I just wanted to lend it more credence and tell you that you're on the right track. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 11:37
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    @ToddWilcox's point is important not just for time-management but also in how playing others' music influences your style. If you do nothing but play Hendrix tunes you'll learn a lot and probably sound good but you'll also sound very derivative of Hendrix. There's nothing wrong with that as long as it's what you want. But if you want to cultivate a unique style/voice you may want to pull from different sources or stop learning other people's music altogether. True creativity is a bit elusive compared to subconsciously copying from what you listen to. "You are what you eat", so mind your diet.
    – user37496
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


You should practice by actually doing whatever it is that you want to do. That should make up the bulk of your practice time. So if you want to be making original music, then do that. As Ye Dawg suggested get a recording rig and start recording. It doesn't have to be expensive and you could even use your phone or tablet. You don't need to master your instrument first. In fact, the bad news is that you probably never will or at least you'll never feel like you've mastered it. So if you wait for that you'll never get started.

As for the rest of your practice time I'd suggest a couple things:

  1. Start with a goal. When you have goal you can make a map to that goal. So if you want to, let's say, record an album or maybe play your music live then you can break that larger task into smaller ones to focus on day-to-day.
  2. Find smaller things that will help your larger goal and deconstruct them as well. Find an aspect of music that you'll be using and break down exactly how it works and why. Let's say chord progressions, for example. Or maybe deconstruct what's going on in other music that you like from the genre that you want to play. Rather than learning to play it note for note, look at the various musical elements at play. Do they use simple chords or more exotic voicings? Are there any particular scales that you're noticing? Is timbre (ex. guitar effects) an important part and if so how are they getting those sounds? Then, as you pick up these little things, try to work them into your next recording or jam session. But don't let them keep you from your main goal.

Nobody can tell you exactly what to practice without knowing what you know already and exactly where you want to end up. But you know those things so trust your own curiosity about what you should check out especially if your main goal is creating. Just remember to spend most of your time actually creating if that's what you want to be doing.

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