Let’s be real for a second, songwriters. Writer’s block doesn’t exist.
I know, we’ve all had times where we feel like we’re stuck and no words or ideas are coming out.
But here’s why I say writer’s block is a myth: because there’s always a way to get through that mire. There’s always something you can do that guarantees you a way out.
Yeah, I said guarantee.
So here are some songwriting methods that have helped me get inspired or generate ideas. One of these, for me, always gets me unstuck.
Stream Of Consciousness
I do this all the time. And I’m usually happy with the ideas I get from this method.
Grab your pencil, pen, phone, or whatever you use to write songs and just start writing. Don’t let your pen or fingers stop moving. Drop your songwriting filters. Just go.
You can start with a topic or just go with whatever is in your brain at that moment.
Most of what you end up with will be nonsensical or all over the place. But comb through all the words and see if an idea or a phrase jumps out at you, then base an entire song on that concept.
Are you an acoustic guitarist? Write a song on electric guitar.
Do you play the piano? Grab a keyboard and use a cheesy synth sound.
Are you mainly a vocalist? Find a melody on the piano.
The point is, try to write a song on a new instrument, even if you don’t know how to play it. Just mess around with it.
Doing this resets your songwriting brain and could jar an idea loose.
Re-write Someone Else’s Song
In Austin Kleon’s great little book Steal Like An Artist, he talks about borrowing ideas or methods from other artists.
Not plagiarizing, but rather taking someone else’s idea and saying it in your own authentic way.
Try to do this with songwriting if you get stuck.
Take a song you love and re-write it — re-write the lyrics in a way you would say them and re-write the music in a way you would choose.
You could end up with a cool song that you’re proud of. Or that song could give you an idea for another song that might end up being great.
This one is pretty simple. Just grab a pen or pencil and some paper and just doodle. However you doodle is best — neat, messy, something recognizable, or scribbles.
You doodle you.
The movement of your hand, the sound of the pencil on the paper, the mindlessness — it can help trigger song ideas.
What Would You Add?
Would you add any methods to this list? What do you do to unblock writer’s block?