How To Overcome Writer's BlockAug 23, 2021
Are you a songwriter or producer who is just starting out to write and make music? Perhaps you're a more experienced musician who might be struggling to make your next big hit? Whatever it is, these five tactics below will help you overcome and beat writers block to get you set on the right foot.
Tactic #1 - Do It Differently
This might seem obvious but bare with me for a minute. This is a valuable tactic for anyone who has written a handful of songs already. It's normal to recycle the same songwriting process for every song you write. If it works why fix it right! Wrong. Sometimes you're going to need to switch up the process if you want to write something different.
If you want a different sound then you have to do something different!
I often well into old traps and the same way of doing things. I was frustrated because all my songs started to sound the same. That's because I wasn't doing anything different. I was sitting inside my comfort zone because it was comfortable!
So get uncomfortable!
How do you that?
Start a song in a way that you would normally not. For instance, if you usually write a song on the guitar. Well, switch to the piano. Or any other instrument! If you don't play an instrument, and you usually start a song with a loop or beat then switch is up as well, start with a vocal melody or a random loop.
Switch up the tempo and key as well. We often get comfortable in a slow to medium tempo right within the key that might be comfortable for us to sing in. This isn't going to get you a different sound! Work with a metronome and start writing a song at 160bpm. This will definitely get you a different result!
Doing things differently and switching up your process will make your brain work in a different way. Do it differently and then leave it up to your brain!
Tactic #2 - Co-Write With Other Artists
This may be one of my favourite ways to beat writers block and finish a song. Rely on someone else. This may sound selfish and I don't mean show up to a co-writing session without providing any value!
First off, what is co-writing if you've never heard of it?
Co-writing is wiring a song with one or more people. I find the best co-writing sessions happen with 2 or 3 people. Often times, when you have a group of 3 or more then it's easy for someone to slack off and ride the coat tails of the other contributors.
However, when you're in a small group. There's no hiding.
The goal of a co-writing session is to write a song from start to finish. Melody, lyrics, structure. The entire song should be completed at the end of a session. The session could last anywhere from 1 hour to 10 hours. It will depend on each session since every one is a little different.
The 2 biggest benefits of a co-writing session:
How do you find someone to co-write with?
Go to your local open mic and meet people. Was there a performer who you enjoyed? Perhaps they might be up for a co-writing session. You can also check your local classifieds for people posting wanted ads. Another great option is using community marketplace sites like soundbetter, or meetups.
Tactic #3 - Making a Bet with Yourself
Do you like to work under pressure? Would you prefer to work under a deadline? This is true for a lot of people so this tactic might work really for you. For example, if I don't have any live shows planned then I will never rehearse my live set. On the other hand, once I have live shows planned and there are deadlines in place then I make sure to practice!
The same strategy can be used for writings songs. If you don't have a deadline or pressure to write any music then you might not ever write anything!
Make a beat with yourself or someone else that you will finish 7 songs in 7 days. If that's too much, then choose 1 song in 7 days. Whatever you can handle.
Make sure to incentive yourself so that you'll actually complete the task. For instance, tell a friend that you will pay them $250.00 if you do no complete 7 songs in 7 days. If you do, then you don't owe them anything. Better yet, make a bet with another songwriter.
This alone might whip you into gear and start finding creative ways to write songs even faster than you think you could.
Tactic #4 - Break It Up
It can be daunting to sit in front of Logic, GarageBand, or whatever DAW you're using and stare at a blank page. Or a blank pen and paper with your acoustic guitar in hand. Daunting and overwhelming to say the least.
Break it up.
Don't think of the end song write away. Start with a word. A letter. A chord progression. A thought. Focus on small chunks that you can control and finish these chunks instead of trying to finish a song.
Here's the chunks that I use to break down a song that really help me:
Chunk 1 - The chord progression. I browse and listen to different artists I like and noodle around on my instrument to find a chord progression I like. When I'm doing this, I'm not worried about anything else. Not the lyrics. Not the melody. Not the song. Nothing. This gives me the freedom to relax and just play some music.
Chunk 2 - Think about what I want to write about. This is the fun part because you can choose anything.
Chunk 3 - Start humming some random melodies or thoughts into a microphone. This will eventually make up the melody of what we're going to sing but at the beginning you can just focus on the musical side to the melody. You're still not worried about anything else. Just focusing on each chunk at one time.
Chunk 3 - Now we can focus on writing some lyrics. I would break this section down into further chunks of verse, pre-chorus, and chorus, or whatever lyrical structure you would like your song to have.
If ever I get a roadblock, I would move on to a different chunk and then come back to finish a previous chunk. You can also do this over the period of a couple hours or a couple days. I think it's helpful to finish a song in the same sitting but sometimes you can't force it. That's a good segue into the next tactic
Tactic #5 - Finding Balance
When you're writing a song and you hit a roadblock. Should you push through or take a break?
I think that it's important to push through at the beginning of your songwriting or production career in order to find your limits.
If you always gave up or took a break when the going gets tough, well then, how would you ever finish anything?
When you become a seasoned producer or songwriter you will know when it's time to switch things up, take a break, or call it a day. You know that because you've been in these situations before.
When you're just beginning, it's difficult to know what your limits are, how far you can push it or what your work endurance is. If you give up or leave the session after your first roadblock, you might be leaving behind the best song you've ever written but you'll never know because you left the session.
AsThomas Edison said
"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration."
Are you ready to write a song today?
What tactic will work best for you? Try each one out over the next few weeks. It's likely that some of the tactics just won't work for you and therefore you'll need to build a hybrid of your own.
Why do you want to write music? What incentivizes you?
Fall back on these answers to help motivate yourself to beat writers block and overcome the frustration that comes from not being able to produce or write a song that you enjoy.