It's a sunny afternoon and you decide to pick up your guitar to try and write a new tune. An hour passes when you come to and realize that you've just been strumming the same 3 chords over and over again. This is when it hits you. You got writers block.
Writers block is something that songwriters (and creative people in general) know all too well. Though that in no way means that it's game over for those people. It probably just means that there are certain aspects of their lives that have been neglected. This could be from lack of new experiences, trying to take on too much at once, or simply a lack of confidence. Either way, these are all things that can easily be worked through with a bit of persistence.
However, if you choose to just sit down and take whatever life deals you then you are robbing yourself the chance to grow. There are many extremely talented musicians out there who let a bit of writers block get in their way of pursuing a career in music and its a shame because it really doesn't have to be like that.
So, are you one of these people who feel like that creative block is getting you down? Well stand up, brush yourself off, and read through these suggestions on how to fight your way through it.
Stop And Smell The Flowers
You've got deadlines coming up, house work that needs to be done, and a few birthday parties that need to be attended. On top of this, you end each week by thinking "well, there goes another week that I didn't write a song".
If this sounds like you, theres no wonder you are experiencing writers block. What you need is to take a day (or a few days) completely to yourself. Turn off from the world a little bit and relax your mind.
This includes getting a good nights rest. A lot of musicians ignore the value of a proper sleep schedule. They find it more important to make an appearance at every party, or to stay up late trying to finish a project. It's easy to get so wrapped up in this other stuff and not even notice how it might be affecting other aspects of life. Give yourself at least a week of a proper bed time and see how quickly it can change your attitude about music.
Pick Up A New Instrument
After a while of writing music on the same instrument, it's easy to fall into a habit of writing the same general song over and over. You'll find a lick or certain chord progression you like the sound of and hold onto it for dear life.
Try letting go of what you know and challenge yourself to write in a way you never have before. You don't need to be a master of this new instrument. Just getting down the basics is enough to give you a whole new perspective on your writing process.
Find A New Hobby
Sometimes if your brain is feeling in a bit of a funk the best thing you can do is to challenge yourself to learn a new skill. This isn't to say that you should go devote yourself to becoming a black belt in karate (unless you really want to). Instead, start by looking up what sort of classes are offered by your local education centre.
A songwriter friend of mine was going through a bad spell of writers block when she decided to take a pottery class for the first time. By forcing her brain to focus on something else besides music for a while, she allowed herself a much needed break from stressing about music. After that, her songwriting began to flow more naturally again.
Visit A New Country
Sick of walking down the same street, seeing the same buildings, and eating the same food every day? Well luckily for you there is a whole world of new adventures out there waiting for you.
If you are feeling especially daring, pack up a couple bags right now and head to the airport to catch the next earliest flight to anywhere. Or if that's a little too spontaneous for your taste, than carefully plan out the details to your next must see city.
Travelling is a great way to not only gain new valuable life skills, but also gain valuable life experiences for you to write about. Can't afford to hop a plane? Then why not go out and explore your own back yard? Take a street you never thought to drive down and see what you find. Talk to some new people and don't forget to bring something to write on to remember these experiences for later.
Meet New People
What happens when we stay inside our little bubble is that we forget that there are people out there with different life experiences than us. How do you meet new people, you ask? Its easy. Just talk to them. Catch a bus to a random part of town and see who you can strike up a conversation with. And don't be afraid to be that "crazy bus person", as there's a good chance you will never see these people again.
You may be surprised at how people react to this too. I had a conversation with a disabled older woman once who shared with me great stories of how she grew up. Not only did it give me lots to think and write about, but she also thanked me at the end of the conversation for listening to her. It really is a win win!
If you've ever looked up any advice online on how to better take care of yourself, you've probably seen "meditation" on there before. Thats for good reason! If you are able to quiet those nagging every day thoughts in your head, just imagine how much room that leaves to have fun with making music again. There's not only one way to meditate, so put a bit of research into this and see if you can find something that works for you.
This also doesn't have to be something that takes up a lot of your day. Often times people will make a habit of taking only a few minutes when they wake up or go to sleep to recenter themselves with meditation or any other sort of calming ritual.
This Won't Last Forever
It's easy to convince yourself that you've completely forgotten how to write music when experiencing a dry spell, but you and I both know thats not true. Pretty much every creative person I've met has gone through something like this and made it out alive. And you will too. So try one or two of these suggestions and remember why you loved writing music in the first place.