There comes a time in every guitar player’s life where he or she comes to an invisible wall that they just cannot climb. This can be a very difficult time for any musician and is extremely frustrating. Overcoming writers block can be an uphill battle, and it can last months, or in more severe cases, years. If you are reading this, I know the burning question in your mind. How do I overcome writer’s block?
One of the most important things to help fight writer’s block is to know the warning signs and understand what writer’s block is.
Wait a moment…There are signs?
It is true, and these signs can be hard to notice. But what are they? The answer can be different for everyone. From my experience, one of the most tell-tale signs of impending doom is monotony. Continuously playing the same things over and over and over and over and, well…you get the point.
Another frustrating thing is reaching that point where your technical ability reaches a limit and realizing that it’s blocking your creative energy. Obsessing over technical ability will definitely rain on your parade and in turn damage your ability to focus on writing.
There are infinite amounts of signs, and they will vary by individual. But all that aside, it’s time to get down to business.
If writers block were easy to overcome, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. So what is it about overcoming writer’s block that makes life so miserable? What can we do to solve this distressful problem?
A man named William Goldman once said, "The easiest thing to do on earth is not write." This is really truthful. While it may be easy to ignore it and think, “Hey, it will come to me later,” the simplest and best way to combat writer’s block is to simply keep writing. And then write some more. And after that, write even more. Whether you think the end product is “good” or not, you are still pushing on that wall and it will, eventually anyway, move.
Let us borrow a technique I learned while writing poetry. It’s called “free writing.” It is exactly what it sounds like. Here’s what you do. Play something random, and keep on playing randomness until you start hearing something come from it. I like to say that there is noise in your head, and getting that noise out of your head is crucial. Even if you end up strumming a G major for six hours, if that’s what it takes to be free of the noise, so be it.
Another good tip to help the musical juices flow is to step away from the genre you are trying to force out. Play something else. If you can’t write a death metal riff, try writing a folk song or jazz progression. Sometimes that’s all it takes. You may find that moment where it all clicks and, dare I say, even find that you prefer writing jazz.
This brings me to another good tip. Never EVER stop learning. Even if you just learn a new chord every few days, or a scale once in a while. Anything will help. Learn other people’s music, too. Play anything and everything you can get your hands (pun not intended).
In the case of technical ability, just cool it. Take it back a notch. Slow down, literally. Do not obsess over something that you physically aren’t able to do just yet. Owning up to the fact that we do not have supernatural abilities or fingers that can melt molecules or defy the laws of physics is as important as breathing. With practice and time, everything will come. Patience is key, and being able to step back and analyze your playing is part of being a successful guitar player and will always aid you when combating the evil entity of writer's block.
When facing writer’s block, it is important to never give up. Don’t let it defeat you. Think positive and your moment of genius will come to you when it is time. A final quote to help drive the message home:
"Keep Writing, Keep Dreaming" - Between the Buried and Me
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me anything. I hope you found this helpful!