It's the worst.
Writer’s block is undoubtedly one of the most infuriating feelings on the planet — especially for musicians and songwriters. You have all these ideas, all this motivation, and yet it’s somehow impossible to get anything down on the page.
While there’s no concrete cure for writer’s block, there are absolutely ways in which we can help ourselves overcome a static imagination. Below are some tried-and-true methods (tried and confirmed true by us) for ridding yourself of the all too frustrating mental block.
1.) Take a stroll
This may sound simple, and that’s because it is! Walking, wheeling, riding, hopping, it doesn’t matter. Just get your body moving, and change up your surroundings. If possible, get outside — go to a park, downtown, or even just take a walk around your block! There’s always a good chance you’ll see something or someone that inspires you, and if you don’t that’s okay too!
Just moving around itself will help to get your creative juices flowing (literally). Dopamine is a neurochemical often associated with creative brain function, and completing a small task such as a walk can help activate your brain’s dopamine production.
2.) Flip your songwriting process
Songwriting is such an individual craft, everyone writes songs in their own way. Some start with lyrics and build the music around them, some start with the music, and some work completely differently!
Whatever your traditional songwriting process is, try flipping the order. If you’re someone who often finds a spark with writing lyrics, perhaps writing a melody first would allow you to write your poetry in a new way. If you start with music, try writing lyrics and subsequently building a song to fit them perfectly.
No matter how you normally come up with your ideas, changing the process can help freshen up your “thought bank”, and even provide you a total paradigm shift.
3.) Treat an object like a person
It’s often far easier to write a song about a person as opposed to an abstract topic — it gives you a clear target to write to. Since this is the case, try writing a song about an object (or any topic, really), styled as if you’re writing it to a person.
For example, let’s take a can of soda. How could we write this as if it’s about a person?
The second you touched my lips
I knew that I was done for
Your sweet and sparkling kiss
You make me want to love more
See? Doesn’t that sound romantic and flowery? Nobody would ever guess that it’s about a Coke! Try this method with some other objects you hold near and dear (or ones you despise).
4.) See your song
This may sound confusing, but trust us, it makes sense. One way that musicians can get inspired is by using their eyes instead of their ears!
Go to a museum, local art show, or just browse online and find a picture or painting that catches your eye. Take a second to put yourself into that scene. What does it sound like there? Look like? Smell like? Take all of these inputs, and try to interpret them into song!
For example, a painting of a small dog and a child could inspire a lighthearted, dancing melody with a cheerful chord progression, but a picture of a lone wolf might inspire a darker melody with more sinister chords. Find a picture you like, and let the music come to you!
5.) Catch up on some reading
When working on an art like songwriting, reading just about anything is sure to inspire. Have a book that you’ve been meaning to read? Read a couple chapters, and write a song about the main character, or the challenges they’re facing. Reading the news can also work well, as reading stories of the modern world can inspire songs relating to social issues and current events.
Whatever you decide to read, keep one thing in mind: Pay attention to the words. Not even necessarily the entire message of the piece you’re reading, but the individual words themselves. Oftentimes just a single word (think of a unique one, like ‘serendipity’) has the power to strike inspiration into a songwriter.
These tips are sure to help any songwriter stuck in a rut, and we encourage you to try every one of them!
Still feeling uninspired? Check out more on the Interstate Music Inspiration page!