I’m sure you know the feeling. You’ve been working on a song – trying to get something, anything good (or anything at all) written. The problem is, your mojo just isn’t flowing. In short, you have songwriter’s block.
As a songwriter, being or feeling unable to produce quality work can be taxing – emotionally, mentally, and financially. You want to create, but feel like you can’t. When your livelihood depends on your creations (or you want it to) songwriter’s block can be your worst nightmare.
On top of that, songwriter’s block can manifest differently from person to person. You may:
- Not be able to finish your work
- Feel as though everything you write sounds too similar
- Not know where or how to start with a piece
- Feel like what you do create is subpar
So, is songwriter’s block a death sentence for your writing career? It doesn’t have to be. Utilize these 5 tips to get out of your rut and get back to writing great songs.
1. Seek inspiration elsewhere.
If you feel as though your songwriting is uninventive or uninspired, find something to rekindle your creative spark.
Experience a new environment.
Whether you take a nature walk, visit an exhibit, or try out a new coffee shop, switch things up! Observe as much as you can about the new space, and use that as inspiration for your songwriting.
Explore other forms of expression.
Practicing creative expression reveals our ideas and allows us to record them. If you’re having trouble expressing yourself through songwriting, remove your blockage using a different medium. Here are some to try.
This can coincide with experiencing a new environment, or be done from a familiar space. If you choose a particular subject to draw, that can be a launchboard for your lyrics. If you prefer a more abstract approach, try creating a design that combines words with pictures. Then, write using your visual creation as a guide!
Put on your favorite song or playlist and have a blast! Not only will you experience a different form of expression, but you’ll also stand a chance of being inspired by a sound or lyric you hear.
“Dress for the job you want” doesn’t just apply to job interviews. Getting into your “songwriting clothes” (whether loungewear or high fashion) can provide the mental shift that gets your songwriting back on track. Try experimenting with new looks and see how they impact your creative flow.
There are any number of ways to practice your creativity and get inspired. Experiment, and find what works best to spark your creative genius. In the words of phenomenal writer Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
2. Take a songwriting class or workshop.
Songwriters should take whatever opportunities they can to hone their craft. Wherever you are in the world, so many creative classes are just a click away.
ASC Culture Blocks: Using Your Unique Virtual Songwriting
This class series hosted by Dear Soul Music Co. walks you through the basics of songwriting, finding your artistic voice, and preparing your work for distribution. The virtual sessions provide a space to work with others and receive feedback. Register for free on Eventbrite, and see how the collaborative learning experience can help you break your songwriting dry spell.
Songwriters Lock In at GrindHaus Studio
Every second Saturday, songwriters who visit GrindHaus Studios have the opportunity to collaborate with other artists in an intimate studio setting. This 3-hour-long monthly workshop provides the opportunity for those in and around Charlotte to put their skills into practice. Collaborating with others can help the ideas to get flowing again! Keep in mind that although registration is free, slots per session are limited.
Bold Music Lessons
Sometimes, it’s useful not only to talk to other songwriters, but also to work with them one-on-one. Bold Music offers a variety of lessons including songwriting instruction! Work one-on-one with professional musicians to hone your craft in an in-person or virtual setting. Whenever you have songwriter’s block, you’ll have someone to personally coach you through!
When deciding what songwriting class to take, consider what you’ve struggled with in your songwriting process, whether you’d like long-term or short-term help, and how personalized you’d like said help to be.
3. Identify & address your current limits.
The wars we wage emotionally, mentally, and physically take their toll on our performance. It’s a good idea to check in with yourself in general. Here are a few ways to apply those “check-ins” to your songwriting process.
Too often we run ourselves into the ground trying to get everything done. Sometimes, the rut you’re in with songwriting can be fixed with a simple break. When you struggle, take a step back. Breathe. Sleep. Relax. Return to the task with a refreshed mind when you’re ready.
Unfortunately, our biggest opposition is often the person in the mirror. Consider: are you being too hard on yourself in this process?
Desiring to create quality work is admirable; giving yourself grace during the creation process is essential. Remember you are human and will make mistakes from time to time.
If you’re new to songwriting, know that your skills will only improve with practice! In the immortal words of Bob Ross, “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy accidents.” Recognize that even your mess-ups can produce beautiful outcomes and learning experiences.
Outside Opinions and Stressors
As much as we can be our own worst enemy, the opinions and actions of others impact us as well. Reflect on what narrative the opinions of others have formed. Are they contributing to your songwriter’s block?
Journal your thoughts, recognize how they affect you, and choose to release limiting beliefs. When you return to your songwriting, actively replace limiting beliefs that reappear with positive affirmations. Keep creating in spite of them!
Get help from a book.
There are any number of wonderful songwriting books available to help you. Here are two to look into.
Six Steps to Songwriting Success, Revised Edition: The Comprehensive Guide to Writing and Marketing Hit Songs
This book offers practical guidance in a 6-step format to writing songs that sell. If you feel that your songs lack structure, or you’d like to gain new lyric writing techniques, it’s an invaluable resource.
Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice
“Practice makes permanent.” If you’d like to strengthen your songwriting with exercises, this is a great book for you! Not only does it have challenges and writing prompts, but also songwriting examples to inspire your own writing.
5. Start an idea bank.
If you are able to start songs but find it hard to finish them, an idea bank may work wonders for you.
Voice Memos/Sound Snippets
Your phone’s voice memo or recording app is definitely one of the 5 best apps to use as a musician. Whether you generally start with lyrics or melody, take time to record your ideas when they come to you. Just remember to revisit them regularly and to label those recordings so you have an idea what they are.
Keeping a notebook of songwriting ideas can also be beneficial. Seeing your words on paper may help you to organize and craft your songs more easily.
You don’t have to fully flesh out your ideas immediately. If you’re creatively tapped, let what you’ve recorded sit until a later date.
Once you do return to your idea bank, try combining your written lyrics with various melody lines or recorded lyrics. You never know what combination of ideas will lead to your next masterpiece.
Every songwriter will experience blocks sometimes. Still, frustration and defeat don’t have to define your artistry. Add the 5 tips above to your arsenal, and keep your creative juices flowing. You got this!
Ready to take action?
- Check out our blog post, Songwriting for Beginners: Part 1 – Lyrics.
- See how you can hone your songwriting skills with lessons from Bold Music!
- Pin this post for later using one of the pictures below!