We all suffer from writer’s block at some stage, usually from going into a session unprepared, the pressure of a time constraint or just losing what we thought we had.
Ultimately, it’s something all artists struggle with so in this short blog I’m going to look at what induces writer’s block and what can be done to alleviate it.
Firstly, always go into a session prepared. Write your ideas down or record/video yourself on your phone – having your ideas consolidated and readily available to reference will really help your prep. You’d be amazed what a quick sift through your voice memos folder can do, there will be gold in there, have a listen (yes, there will be some real crap too)! When it comes to recording there’s no substitute for practise, so once you get your ideas together make sure you really know what you’re going to play for the session. This will really help when it comes to having to ad-lib to a passage in the studio because you’re not constantly worrying about other parts.
Be healthy in body and mind. Sitting down tired after a late night on the booze and a big burger and Coke (the drink) for lunch is going to have a negative effect on your creativity. Lack of sleep will make you lethargic and more susceptible to frustration; you want to be able to work through your ideas, not fall at the first hurdle because you’re suffering from only 2 hours sleep – by the way, coffee does not work!
Listen to other people’s music to get your juices flowing, and maybe pinch some stuff to start you off! Learning something new or listening for a cool tune will really help you get started; just think how many of the world’s top hits have been sparked by someone else’s work…
Finally, go out for a walk or clean something dusty and come back to your writing after; often creativity emanates when you’re focused on something entirely unrelated. Don’t sit for hours looping one phrase if it’s just not coming as it’s more than likely it’s not going to come out right now. The simplest things can inspire us – most frustrating when you’re driving I find.
I hope some of the helps! Happy writing.
Here’s a little poem – I wrote when I actually had writer’s block – about utilising the ‘do something entirely different’ method to get over it.
When suffering writer’s block
It comes as such a shock,
Pen and paper is at hand
And brain goes into lock.
Nothing comes to mind
Ideas I can’t find,
Inspiration that won’t come
Once I saw but now I’m blind.
Can’t force or squeeze them out,
Not a whisper, not a shout.
Before I set the clock to write
And ideas pour out like a spout.
Lost connection with my muse
Like a broken wire or fuse,
Try to focus on the job
All creation I do lose.
What is this strange affair?
When will I get my share?
Ideas from the stores inside,
My cupboards they are bare.
What could I do to cure?
There must be one I’m sure!
What can I do to draw it out?
My muse just needs a lure.
Here is what the Guitar Addiction gang had to say about the matter:
Jason Spell Just sit and play. Don’t think “I have to write something right now!” Just play. Noodle. Let the fingers move where they move, and let the ear take over if anything neat happens.
Tom Addlesee If before you sit down and think “I’m gonna write a song in this style today” or whatever and place a target you’re expecting, then you set yourself up to fail. If you relax and just noodle around it’ll help. Really your target should be to improve. Sounds dumb and simple but its true. If you expect then you tee up failure in a sense. Just relax a little.
Mark Thompson being prepared with some ideas before actually sitting to write is usefull …
Brandon Gonzalez Listen to different types of music. Try making up a song in your head n if you like it play it. Take a break. Watch other people play. This is just what I do sometimes.
Matthew Murphy Put on a drum beat play what you feel
Ayang Daniel Johns As long I have any drums backing track or drum loop playing, my writer’s block goes away
Billy-Five Albanese Take a break, take a walk, change the channel in your brain; it’ll come back (not your brain, the inspiration)
Daly Redline take a break and 420
Andy Gelband Funnily enough some of my favourite songs have started with me deciding I’m going to write something of a certain style or flavour. That said, deciding you just want to find one or two chord changes or a few notes of a riff that you like can be a great…See More
Thomas Craymer I never get that with guitar, keyboard or bass…. just improvise smile emoticon the only difficult part where I always get mind blocks is when I write lyrics
Jon Ison One start point I was shown: take a tune/riff/chord progression that you like, change the chords round, change the length of the notes, make up runs go down and vice versa, hey presto a new tune in minutes…
Dennis Michael Stredney Do/Play something TOTALLY NEW AND DIFFERENT from what you normally play!!!!!
Don Potterfield I seen a video if you have ever heard of Rush.They did some thing a bit different they started off with Paint it black then jumped into Spirit of the Radio.
Adam Lorton Having access to a lot of instruments, digital or physical, has always provided me with a plethora of ideas. I always think I’m going to “run out”. Also ready or staying up on current events, or even going out and doing something else other than music has always provided me with a fresh head when going into stuff. Another good trick is to not force anything. Realize when something just doesn’t work and move on.
Don Potterfield Practice Practice Practice.
Loz Ruston Listening has always been my way of overcoming any writers block; sitting down without any ideas of what I want to accomplish and just let my fingers go while I listening closely. If I’m able, I also try to record what I do, so I can go back and revisit it. When I’m doing this, my playing is driven by my ear, and I often surprise myself with where I’m taken.
Nick Weiland exercise and come back to it, also reverse engineer other tracks you like
Neil Morgan Literally the only thing I find to consistently effective in this situation is to ‘push through’. Persevere, keep trying ideas, and eventually something will come of it.