First of all try to understand why you might have burned out? Have you been dedicated and working hard on something without seeing signs of improvement? Has your guitar playing or song list grown stale and old? Maybe you've been stuck in the same environment with the same people too much. Whatever the reason might be, give some focussed thought to it and see if you can come up with the cause and the cure for it. Here are a few things you can try out to refresh and reset yourself in times of resistance.
- Reminisce about the main event/song that made you want to start guitar in the first place. Try to think back to that eureka moment when you decided "that's it, I'm going to learn guitar." Try and reignite that original fire and think back to how it exciting and new it felt back then.
- Seek out new music and find a really killer track. This could also be a new band or a new musician. The new musician doesn't have to be a guitarist either, find inspiring musicians from other instruments.
- Learn something fresh and new on guitar. This could be a new chord, or progression or a new lick or shape for example.
- Learn something from a new style. I've been meaning to start delving into simple classical guitar pieces for example, this is great because I'll have to learn a whole new way to physically play the instrument and not just learn a new style of music.
- Accept that you don't feel like playing and give it a break for a few days, or until the need to play returns. Not feeling like playing isn't a bad thing. If you've been grafting hard at your craft then sometimes a rest is needed to let everything sink in.
- Break down large tasks into smaller chunks. It's very easy to get overwhelmed by the vast expanse of things you still want to learn and "need to know" so minimise and organise.
- Find unfamiliar ground. This could be found in a new tuning, or even another instrument such as a piano or a bass guitar. You don't have to give up guitar or start learning a new instrument completely but sometimes an hour jamming and messing around at a piano can give you some cool ideas. Anything to spark that inspiration and force you to think differently.
- Meet new musicians, head out to "Jam night" or go and see a live band and get chatting to the musicians. New people always bring new ideas and influences to you.
- Change your environment; play guitar outside or in a different room or even in the park or busk somewhere. Anything to get you out of your usual practise space.
- New tone. This is very electric guitar specific, but if you're used to playing cranked high gain lead tones try a spacey vibey atmospheric clean tone with lots of delay, reverb and chorus.
The main recurring theme here is "unfamiliar" and "fresh"; new songs, new environment, new playing styles, new people, spending time on a new instrument, new tone. The trick is to distract yourself from the current way of thinking/thoughts and feed your mind something it's not dissected before. Our brains love to be busy, looking at things we haven't seen before, listening to things to we haven't heard before.
Seek out new and interesting things and you will literally change your mind; you will be creating new neural pathways and connections while reinforcing old ones that haven't been used in a while. These new connections will also help you when you need some fresh ideas because your mind will have some new places to cross wires and connect seemingly unrelated things together to create something new.
Learning guitar really is an endless journey. And requires a lot of time and dedication over the span of a lifetime to master. With this in mind you're bound to have an off day every now and again, that's completely normal and understandable. When it comes down to it you're essentially left with two options; accept defeat for today and find something interesting to do with your well-earned break, or hunt down something new and unfamiliar and break new territory with your playing. Either way, I hope this has given you some ideas to try to break you out of the rut and get you back on track and feeling inspired to play again.
About the Author:
By Steven Martin, www.stevenmartinguitar.com. If you enjoyed this, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to get in touch with any questions or comments in the boxes below.