Overcome Songwriter’s Block


Writer’s block is a common challenge for musicians. It has been said that the difference between amateur musicians and professional musicians is that amateurs write only out of inspiration, professionals write even when not inspired, out of necessity. The only way to succumb to writer’s block is to stop writing. Keep going when others give up, no matter how unpleasant it may feel to do so.

How to Hack Writer’s Block

PUNCH THE CLOCK – Set a certain amount of time to write every day, and don’t make any excuses. If you want a job as a songwriter, you must treat songwriting as a job, at least to an extent. Long periods of boredom or tediousness while writing songs is actually a way to spur inspiration. Furthermore, increasing the time you spend songwriting increases your chances of having inspiration come knocking. And when it knocks, you’ll be in your studio, already in a mode to capture it.
MAKE COMMITMENTS TO WRITE – Songwriting commitments are a great motivator. If you can’t get someone to commission you for a song, tell a good friend you’ll write a song for their birthday. Agree to write a jingle for a commercial, paid or not. Find a songwriting contest to submit work to. A deadline you set yourself is not nearly as powerful as a commitment to a third party. Negative consequences for failing to write a song are one of the most powerful ways to drive you to write.
GREAT ARTISTS STEAL – Pick a favorite artist and write a song in their style. Pick a favorite song and write its twin (without infringing the original artist’s copyright). When you’re out of original ideas, find inspiration in the music you are most inspired by. If necessary, there’s no shame in stealing chord progressions, rhythms, lyrical motifs, song structure, etc., so long as you transform these inspirational nuggets into original ideas with your creativity.

Songwriter’s Block Hacking Videos

Zac Citron – Ways to Break Through Writers Block and Finish Songs

Citron has some great general advice for breaking through the block. He’s a producer of electronic music, so if you’re into that, his examples will prove familiar.

(photo CC-BY Adrian Furby)