Song Writer’s Block: Help Is At Hand!

Why Writers Block is a myth.

I have never had writer’s block. I try, and I try, and I try, but I just keep writing. I’ve got writer’s block block.

Sure, I’ve had periods of slacking off, but that was just down to laziness, business, or boredom. In the back of my mind I knew that if push came to shove I could crank out a verse or two.

Sure, I’ve had trouble in the writing process. I’ve been clawing up the walls trying to think of rhymes, I’ve been going for long walks trying to coagulate my themes, I’ve been busting my gut every now and then to complicate my chord progressions. It’s never an entirely easy process.

And sure, there have been times when I’ve been absolutely clueless and left my bedroom in a huff, swearing to cast down the pen and all who wield it, and I’ve sat down and played XBOX all night instead.

Any of these things sound familiar? Thought so. I’ve got all the symptoms of writer’s block, I’ve just never diagnosed myself, right? Wrong.

When most people think of writer’s block they imagine that their stream of creativity has been somehow cut off at the source, and they need huge action to pry open the dam. But that’s not it: you’ve been looking at the stream, not the reservoir.

Each one of us has an immense wellspring of raw songwriting material with which to create stuff. Where, I hear you ask? Your whole life. Every friend, every story, every moment, every emotion, every setting, every character, every accidental metaphor, every bureaucratic injustice, every human fallacy, every bit of cloud, every dust mote, every cat, dog, or amoeba: it’s all there to write about. You’ve got no excuse to be blocked up.

But if you were to say: “but, but, but… my writer’s block comes from not being able to think of good rhymes, good metaphors, or good melodies.” Don’t worry. Start with bad rhymes, bad metaphors, and bad melodies, and work up from there. Allow yourself to be bad for a while. No-one expects you to be a teenage prodigy: But keep writing.

But if you were to say: “but, but, but… I can’t even express how my writer’s block stops me.” My advice is to get off your hind parts and roll away your stone. I stopped writing through pure, unadulterated laziness. Just a moment of self-control and you’ll power through the supposed block.

So, what is writer’s block? It’s one of three things: the excuse your brain gives you when you want to play XBOX; it’s the inability to create, through lack of practice, good song structures; and it’s the inability to see the world that inspires you.

And if you still think you’ve got writer’s block: get out and live. If inspiration comes from life, then make that life huge.

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4 Comments

Filed under Lyrics, Melody

4 responses to “Song Writer’s Block: Help Is At Hand!

  1. Matt,

    I would like to point out that playing XBOX can actually be productive! My biggest influence in songwriting/music composition is Nobuo Uematsu – the composer for (most of) the original soundtrack of the Final Fantasy video game franchise. His artistic vocabulary is so vast and fluent that I must assume he is a genius (or at least, works his butt off day in day out making those absolutely stunning compositions).

    I think that a true songwriter/musician, would find inspiration everywhere. Just like you say Matt – in every amoeba. I feel slightly guilty when I watch TV, but often find themes and sometimes dialogues that are catchy and can be transformed into a song, after putting my personal touch on it. And one of my more popular tunes was derived from a Facebook status while absent minded browsing my friends’ profiles!

    We’re kind of the same, Matt – I have writer’s block block too. My problem is actually having too many ideas, I don’t know which one to pursue first. So the real problem for us types is knowing when to rest and recharge the creative cartridges, since pushing persistently can be hazardous for our health too 🙂

    Cheers,
    (sorry I only found the time to reply now – been working on some mixing/remixing competitions!)

  2. Great article. I have found that taking a break can be beneficial in some cases. The length should be according to the goals you are trying to accomplish and such. Just make sure you set a time to come back to what you are doing. If you are overwhelmed, then try a smaller writing project.

    Thanks!

  3. Great Piece! I’m the kind of writer that writes from inspiration, so it can be anything from family problems to sitting out by a lake. I do have to say I do get a writer’s block but only because I’m busy and there is so much on my mind.

    Thanks for the tip PianoPlonker!!!!!!

  4. To me, writers block is when a good writer, who’s written great songs in the past is suddenly creating a string of mediocre songs or playing around with chord progressions, melodies and lyrics but isn’t inspired to finish anything. This can happen when a writer’s life is too boring or stale. For example, one of my friends is a real workaholic – any time I call her she’s co-writing or recording something – but then she complains that she’s not happy with the tunes. I think the reason is – all she does is sit there and write, but she doesn’t HAVE a life to write about.

    The best “cure” for writer’s block is just living life, seeking out different experiences, trying new things and meeting new people.

    Oh, and also there’s nothing that can block you up more then knowing that you have to “write a hit to make it”. Just the anxiety of that can suck a genius dry :). Don’t let your biz people pressure you!

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