As a songwriter and music creator nothing is more frustrating than a phase of continuous writer´s block. The longer this state persists, the more doubts and fears come with it! “Am I losing my gift?” “Will I ever write another good song?” “What if I have nothing left to say?” Questions like that might be buzzing in your mind and leading to more of a block. We all know that fear is the biggest hinderer of creativity. Songwriting requires open-ness, curiosity, passion and a sense of childishness. Fear cuts those triggers down! It´s a vicious circle that can really fuck with your mind!
So, how to get out of writer´s block, if you are stuck?
A lot of articles on the web will tell you to step away from songwriting for a bit, which makes a lot of sense in my opinion. If you are stuck and starting to feel anxious, you first need to reset your mindset. Stepping away from your writing and focusing on something else is a great way to do that!
What´s important to understand though, is the root of your writer´s block! In my experience, writer´s block is mostly an emotional block really!
First things first: What makes a good song?
Great songwriting requires authenticity. The songs you write don´t necessarily need to be about you or be based on true facts, but the emotions you convey through songs, need to be real. It is those songs that will make audiences respond and connect and become fans eventually.
Why is that? Well, any form of art is really about communicating storylines! Sure enough, sometimes they don´t seem too obvious, for example when we talk or draw from our subconscious mind, but we always end up getting a story that requires our emotiveness to be interpreted or understood somehow! (This applies to instrumental songs as much as lyric-based ones!)
In today´s world, the individual stands in the center of our actions and desires. We strive for individual happiness, self-actualization and the freedom to express who we (think we) truly are. This hasn´t always been so! In former times, people were organized in group structures and thus shared collective goals and believes. Luckily we still have this innate longing for bonding with others within us, just less extreme!
Either way, great storytellers always found a way to express the emotions that were representative of issues at a certain time (whether those addressed collective or individual matters).
Art is set out to touch us somewhere deep within. Somewhere words alone can´t reach!
If songwriting wasn´t all about emotions, we could just sing out financial reports or paychecks and be alright with it! But that is (luckily) not the case.
How to re-connect with your emotions?
But back to solving our writer´s block problem. What do I mean by saying “emotional blocks” might be the underlying trouble maker? Well, when experiencing writer´s block, do you feel uninspired? Worn-out maybe? Or simply bored?
You might not want to hear this, but those feelings might actually result from you pushing away problems or issues you don´t want to deal with “right now”. Whether that be a painful situation, like losing someone you love, anxiety or depression or maybe a midlife crises with a severe feeling of meaninglessness. We sometimes are masters of repressing our emotions, telling ourselves we are alright, when really we are not! Don´t get me wrong…these mechanismns of dealing with a situation are perfectly valid and might be just what you need in a particular moment. However, do allow your creativity a break meanwhile. You simply can´t have both and there is a time for everything! Be kind to yourself!
The good news is…
…once you are ready to make a change and face your problems, your songwriting juices will come back as well! In fact writing can be just what you need as soon as you are ready to allow those feelings to surface. Sometimes feeling hopeless can be the toughest of all problems. Hopelessness can make you feel numb, and numbness simply doesn´t translate into songs easily. If you are in such a state, give it time! Eventually the walls will break! Meanwhile…try looking at your life like it´s a movie! Become detached like an outside observer and try to put to words how your “character” feels! This can actually help you connect with your true feelings a lot faster than circling in self-reflections!
If none of this helps, you may also just talk to someone! A friend, a therapist, an internet acquaintance…Talking to an actual person can help you feel a bit of relief as well, which will help you cope and allow for your emotions to come right at you! Sometimes by talking to a person dear to us, we are really just talking to ourself! If you prefer keeping to yourself, I suggest writing the famous “Morning Pages”, like laid out by Julia Cameron in her bestseller “The Artist´s Way“. Writing three pages every morning, regardless of whether you have something to say or not, can help you establish a writer´s mind and find new ideas. This powerful tool is not to be underestimated! Just experiment with what works for you! We all have different needs after all! (Again this also helps get the juices running, if you are an instrumental composer with no lyrics involved whatsoever…find out what moves you first!)
I am hoping that this post is of help to you!
One last note: Please be aware, that we don´t have to be sad or emotionally wrecked to write good songs! Being happy is an emotion that´s just as strong and translates into beautiful songs, that the world needs more of, as well!
The only real cause of writer´s block is being disconnected from your emotions, and that rarely happens when we are in a state of bliss! 😉