Perhaps I’m just picky, or perhaps I have unreasonable expectations,
If you have followed this blog or just read the about page you can probably tell that I don’t like ruts. I despise them.
Ruts are those times in our guitar-playing-life when we seem to be stuck to certain (and old and boring) patterns of playing. They can be creative ruts. For instance, using the same box of tricks over again until even the young mother of eight who sits in the front row can predict every lick and effect you will use.
Or they can be technical, like never being able to play certain riffs and solos as well as they should be.
These periods of stagnation are awful. The only thing worse than a rut is the feeling that you will never be able to get out of them.
What we need is a strategy for improvement, so even though we may still be in the rut, we at least know there is a way out.
Here are some tips.
Face the Obstacle
Take a good look at what part of your playing you are dissatisfied with. Is it soloing, a finger-picking, or are you just dissatisfied with your tone?
Take a good look at what you feel you are lacking. Sometimes this can be counter-intuitive. Some of us would rather just ignore it for a while, look at it every ten days or so, then hope that on some lucky day we will magically be free from our rut.
This never works.
Have the courage to face the obstacle in front of you. Once you do that, then you can beat it.
Write it Down
Try to describe your rut. Identify it in the clearest language you can. This will demystify your rut, making a plan of attack more clear.
When you clearly identify the source of your frustration, it has less power over you.
Find a Solution
Sometimes a solution will present itself once you have clearly outlined the rut.
Other times it won’t.
Have no fear. The answer is out there. You are not alone in your rut. In fact, the more you look around, you might see that your rut is more like a Motel 6 rather than a Pit of Despair. Others have checked in and the good news is they have also checked out.
Here are some posts to get you started.
If your rut is more technical click here.
If your rut is more creative click here.
Start a Checklist
This checklist is your plan of attack for demolishing your rut. Once you have found a solution, the next step is to take action. Start a check list of things you can do on a regular basis, whether it is once a day or once a week. That will help you climb your way out of the rut.
Why a Checklist?
Because it is a practical and easy reference to keep track of your progress.
How To Treat a Checklist
A checklist is like a hammer; they are both tools. You can use a hammer to pound nails into wood or you can use it to pound nails into your foot. You can use a checklist to help you or you can use it to beat yourself up. Don’t do the latter.
The checklist is meant to serve you, not the other way around. Don’t serve the checklist. Use it to get yourself out of the rut.
Allow yourself to be encouraged by the little steps you take. Every step in the right direction is a step you can be proud of. Letting yourself be encouraged by little steps will fuel the bigger steps to come.