Songwriters: Top 5 Ways to Cure Writer’s BlockBy Don • Category: Songwriting Advice, Songwriting Articles, Songwriting Tips
Writer’s block is the nemesis of songwriters – and even non songwriters. There are tons of suggestions and songwriting tips out there for what might work, and various suggestions on overcoming. These are the top 5 that consistently work for me.
- Mash random words together
Many songwriters say that once they have a good song title the “song practically writes itself”. If you are one of these people, then this tip is for you. If you are not one of these people, perhaps this exercise will help spur on creativity.
90% of the time the words in the following exercise will be cheesy. But 10% of the time you will come up with really cool phrases and word pairings. Just keep at it for a bit.
For example, (1)write a list of 10 adjectives, then (2) fold the paper in half so you can’t see the words, and (3) write 10 nouns on the other half. Now (4) unfold the paper so you can see two words on each line. Perhaps you will find some song titles there?
I did an example in MS Excel, just hiding a column while I listed my nouns/adjectives. When I unhide the column – voila! – possible song titles:
- Listen to other music/Listen to no music
For me it is Tom Waits. His songs just tell me, “Relax, enjoy the vibe. Mix yourself a martini, belly up to the piano and wax poetic about life.” Other people like listening to the music their parents listened to … because takes them back to an innocent time of music and inspires them. Others like to listen to music diametrically opposite to the style they write in. Others like to listen to music that is very similar to their style. Some prefer to learn 2-3 cover songs and then write a new song based on what they learned through the cover songs. Whatever works for you.
Still others go in the opposite extreme and listen to no music at all. They don’t listen to any music until their inner songwriter begins screaming for music of some type – any type. THAT is when they pick up a guitar or scoot up to the piano and start creating. They say it creates a hunger and yearning they would not achieve otherwise. I’ve never tried it but many people swear by that method.
- Read a quotes dictionary or visit a quotes website
There’s nothing quite like a great quote to give a song direction.
- Allow yourself to write cheesy songs.
Many songwriters, including myself, tend to feel that if a song isn’t going in the direction where it sounds like a worldwide top ten smash, then it’s not worth writing. True, it might not be worth “performing” live, but it is definitely worth it to finish the song out. Many songwriters say that “to write good songs you have to get the bad ones out of the way“.
- Go to a concert, open mic, or some other live performance event
Being with the crowd, seeing how a performance moves people, and feeling the human electricity that comes with a live event often leaves me with a desire to get home and start creating new music as soon as possible. There’s nothing like seeing a great artist/musician living and performing their dream to give someone else inspiration to go create.
Then try some sorting of the columns for even more possibilities.
Naturally there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other ways to kill writer’s block. What are your favorites? What works for you?
Contributed to ProBlogger’s Top 5 Project.