At some point musicians and songwriters will inevitably get a brush of writer’s block, which is the all too familiar feeling that you will never be able to write another good riff, lyric, or melody again. Every time I wrote a new song on guitar as a teenager, I thought to myself, “Hey! I really like this, how am I ever going to come up with anything else?” Sometimes that “anything else” didn’t come along for days or even weeks. For successful artists with hit records, the standards are even higher so writer’s block can be a severe distraction to the creative process. Here are a few tips to help you muster through it:
1) Acceptance – Mimic Alcoholic’s Anonymous! I’m not saying go out and apologize to all those you have wronged (although that can be cleansing in its own right), but you have to come to terms with the fact you have writer’s block. Curing your writer’s block means accepting its stranglehold and doing something to proactively combat it.
2) Be spontaneous – Do something spontaneous that doesn’t directly relate to your songwriting process. Adventure, new surroundings, and general curiosity of the world might lead you down a path of inspiration that will later reflect itself on your music. Maybe this means going to see an artsy movie, listening to street musicians, or spending a few days in the wilderness taking in the sounds of nature.
In the words of the hit TV comedy Family Guy: “Peter, inspiration doesn’t have a schedule.” Your next best song could be right around the corner.
3) Collaborate – Sometimes it’s tempting to sit in your room and bang on your guitar or computer until you get the riff, beat, or song you like. You figure the more time you put into trying to make music the better the outcome. This is often antithetical to the creative process. Sometimes you just have to take a break. When you’re ready to return to songwriting you could benefit from outside help. Go out and find other musicians to collaborate with in the real world. If you want to stay at home, there are a number of options online to collaborate with other musicians. Reach out to someone to bounce ideas off of or take advantage of all the free music online that you can either remix or use as inspiration for your next work. Change someone else’s music little by little and you might end up with a completely different song that’s your own. You can also piece together music using samples that are licensed under Creative Commons.
4) Switch It Up – Part of curing writer’s block is getting out of your comfort zone. If you usually write trance music, try giving dubstep a chance. If you’re into electronica, how about adding a tinge of industrial? For the metalheads out there, add a synth or two to beef up the mix and give yourself some added flavors. Try new chord progressions and melodies that you normally wouldn’t experiment with. If you tend to be very melodic, experiment with dissonance and enter new sonic territories. Doing the opposite of what you normally do could lead to something better when you transition back to your normal sound. Knowing what else is out there in the music world will make you a more well-rounded musician and will help with writer’s block.