3 Tips for Overcoming Songwriter's Block

Struggling with writer's block? Try one of these methods to get your ideas flowing.

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Struggling with writer's block? Try one of these methods to get your ideas flowing:

1. Steal a Chord Progression

There's a reason chord progressions alone aren't copyright-able: because SO many songs use the same chord progressions.

Grab a chord progression from a song that you like and switch it up: change the tempo, the groove, the instrumentation, etc. Loop that chord progression and start improvising melodies on top of it.

Not only is this a great practice in improvisation, but it's a great way to get your juices flowing and you might just discover a great melody for your next song!

2. Start With One Word

Take one word. Turn it into a metaphor. Then brainstorm a list of related words and choose ones that will support the metaphor.

Let's take the word "car," for example. We'll make it a metaphor for a relationship moving too fast. Here's a list of related words: gas, driving, steering wheel, rear view mirror, wheels, brakes, headlights, signs, stop light, tires, license, pedal, swerving, etc.

From that list of words, come up with a few ideas for the hook: "Stop running red lights," "Hit the brakes please," "We're gonna run out of gas,"...

With a little set-up and explanation, those could all be interesting hooks for describing a relationship that's moving too fast. So try this method for writing a metaphor-based song next time you're struggling for lyric ideas!

3. Use Speech Patterns as a Guide

Pick a sentence, any sentence. Say it a few times. Notice which words stand out. Unless you're a robot, you're probably naturally emphasizing certain words more than others.

Use those words to form your melody: If you put those words on higher notes, they will naturally stand out more. Try forming a melody with peaks on those words.

You can write a whole chorus or verse with random sentences using this method - it doesn't have to make sense! If you end up loving the melody, go back and re-work the song with real lyrics.

Hopefully these tips helped get you back in the songwriting game! If you're still struggling to get your next song written, I've made a free printable songwriting checklist for you. Get it here.

About the Author:
Katie Lott is a songwriting & voice coach at ModernSongstress.com, a website providing articles, coaching, and courses to musicians. Katie coaches singers and songwriters over Skype to help them understand the technical side of music. Grab Katie's songwriting proofreading checklist to help you review your songs.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I recommend the "Frustrated songwriter's handbook" by Nicholas Dobson. Really great way of overcoming the feared writer's block. I have it, and it helped me a lot.
    Great article! Some tips opened my mind (or ears, or eyes, whatever). Thanks, sweetheart!
    Some more that worked for me: - Set your pedals to weird settings and/or combine - Change the tuning to some open tuning or different than you're used to - Go to a music store and try a new amp/guitar for a bit - Put on a drum track on Youtube - Pick up a different instrument (bass/piano/even vocals/drums) - Draw up your song structure differently and add riffs Good luck writers! I want to hear some new kickass songs!