It can be tough and everyone develops their own way of getting through it. My only advice is to keep writing. Even if what you're writing sounds like junk, just put something on the page, or jam it out or whatever your writing method is. When you do that I find one of two things happens, either 1) you find something you like and problem solved or 2) you find something that takes you somewhere else and lets you get on with the piece.
I took your advice and I kept on writing. I made a bit more progress but I didn't end up getting much farther. I have ran into yet another block.

What's worse is the fact that I'm already tired of the idea after listening to it so many times.

Gets a little discouraging when i think of how the greats like mozarts could compose masterpieces in such a little amount of time.

Makes me question whether or not being able to compose is something youre simply born with.
Last edited by dannydawiz at Sep 21, 2013,
You can learn to compose. Nobody's first song is going to be a masterpiece. But it's true that people are different and some people are faster learners. Maybe Mozart wasn't that self-critical and just wrote and that's why he could compose so fast, I don't know.

Maybe analyze your idea. You may find out that it uses a certain rhythm pattern or something. Maybe use that rhythm pattern throughout the whole song?

Also, if you haven't already done it, add all instruments. It makes your ideas sound a lot better. (I'm not sure what kind of music you are composing so maybe this isn't a problem.)

You shouldn't try to compose the next masterpiece. You should just write without thinking too much. Don't be too self-critical.
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Most of the material Mozart wrote from when he was a kid until he was in his 20's isn't really that great. Think about that, it took him over a decade and a half of composing until he started to really get good. It was definitely not something he was born with.

Second thought, it's probably easier to develop as a composer when you start younger, because children have diddly squat in the way of aesthetic criteria. When I was five I was happy just going up to my Mum's piano and improvising with three white notes next to one another on the keyboard. Once you get older you develop criteria for what you like and don't like and become self-conscious about your output, so it's harder to get through the necessary work of pumping out all the crap and developing some kind of facility.

I know many people who think they are useless at X or Y skill just because their first efforts were bad so they gave up. It's hard. I don't really like many of the pieces I've written so far to be honest, but when I think about it my facility has definitely grown from when I started, so I keep plowing through.
To answer your question, I've taken an extended break from songwriting. I'm in between writing albums to take work on specific ideas and work on my ear by transcribing some of my favorite player's music. In addition, I'm taking the writing style (it helps if you (decide to) transcribe full albums as opposed to here and there) and compose a mini "album study." Some of it is actually taking the ideas and tweaking or changing things or I'm just blatantly copying what's going on. I find it helpful and enjoyable at the same time.

Quote by dannydawiz
I took your advice and I kept on writing. I made a bit more progress but I didn't end up getting much farther. I have ran into yet another block.

Makes me question whether or not being able to compose is something youre simply born with.

It will NOT happen overnight. You have to keep working at your ideas and learn to let go and see what happens. I find the best process is when I start to lose sleep over it. When I'm tired, I'm not worrying about logic and criticism. Borrow ideas from your favorite songs too. When I first started out, I needed to transition between riffs in a song and it helped when I would just hold out a powerchord for two measures before the transition - something cheeky like that.
We're all alright!
Last edited by Mathedes at Sep 21, 2013,
Well, it takes practice to get better. Most people give up because their first few attempts weren't on par to their expectations.

As for me, I improvise frequently and work on coming up with new ideas. Whether it's finishing a song or just coming up with ideas for future use, It's good to be able to develop your own creations as a musician.

Now, if I actually had a band going or was able to legitimately record (and not tabbing in TuxGuitar), I'd actually work on writing a hell of a lot more than I do now. I mean, I work on making my own ideas quite a lot, but I still learn a lot of others work as well (about a 45% own work, 55% others work).

Again, as everyone has said, it takes work over a long period of time. Stuff that I came up with when i started 5 years ago was terrible. Now, I write stuff that makes some musical sense. I mean, I'm not writing progressive or classical stuff like some people on here, but I can write some pretty groovy and more unique sounding rock and melodies. I've also been getting better with lyrics and the like, but that still needs improvement.
Skip the username, call me Billy
I thank everyone and I apologize for what was a thread written in a mind frame based off of self pity. I know this is Ultimate Guitar.com and not some psychiatric evaluation forum.

I just get overwhelmed when I'm composing by my own unrealistic expectations. The fact that it takes me what seems like the whole day to sometimes simply get down 16 bars discourages me.

It's just ridiculous when I hear stories of how Steve Vai for example wrote his first symphony in ninth grade. He even quoted in an interview that he would write a song a day and that he never needed to work on his composing.

Playing an instrument, composing music, mixing, mastering, performing and even writing lyrics just seem so unbelievably hard for me even after these 4 years I've gotten into music that my lack of competence just seems to anger me.

Regardless those are issues that I obviously need to work out on my own.

Until then I will continue coming back here for help as always since this is really the only forum that brings consistent answers to my questions along with having a brilliant set of musicians!
you gotta look for the sound you want mate, thats it. Have a sound in mind.
Don't worry, Danny, I'm the same way! It takes me a bit to write a single 8-/16-bar idea. It takes a lot of dedication for me to complete songs. It's better to get through if you have an idea of what you want the song/section to sound like.

Trust me (and anyone else who'll say this); Music is a lifelong dedication, you'll also improve and learn new things.
Skip the username, call me Billy
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you find 16 bars difficult - 16 bars is all you need to start with. Take a look at these preludes by Bach for example. Many composers have written short pieces that barely fill a page, think of all those Waltzes by Schubert or standalone minuets by Mozart and Beethoven, or character pieces like Schumann's Papillons. Not everything you write has to be as long as a Mahler symphony, and it is surprisingly hard to write well in those condensed forms.