Ever sat down to write a new tune and all that runs through your head is, "I just don't got it anymore." Perhaps then you start to question what "it" even is, and if you ever had it in the first place? That there my friend is writer's block.
Almost any composer you talk to can probably describe to you a time that they went through writer's block. Though just because it happens often doesn't mean there isn't any way to prevent it or get yourself out of it. Most creative blocks are a symptom of your life becoming too busy or too routine. In other cases, you as an artist may just be acting too hard on yourself. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to fix it and even prevent it from happening in the future.
Though if you choose to do nothing but sit around and mope about it, then you are just setting yourself up for failure. The people that do this are generally the ones to give up on pursuing music as a career altogether. Trust me, this does not have to be you.
If your creative juices need a little loosening up then I recommend you read through this list of refreshing ways you can take care of yourself and get back to writing!
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 writer's 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.
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.
Do you feel like you've gotten stuck in a drab routine that you that you can't seem to get out of? A great way to shake it up a little is by learning a new skill. I'm not suggesting you need to become a professional sky diver or anything, but even just looking into what creative classes are available in your area can be enough.
I have a songwriter friend who found herself deep in a creative dry spell. She tried taking a pottery class to change things up a bit and while her pots weren't always the most symmetrical ever(shh, don't tell her I said that), it worked wonders for her writing and not long after that she those creative juices were flowing once more.
Experiencing a new city, a new culture, and a new way of life is a great way to give yourself new and exciting things to write about. Whether you spontaneously decide to hop on the next available flight, or meticulously plan out you want to see, it's going to be a fun and valuable experience either way.
If you have travelled before you know even the most simple day to day occurrences can be enough to write a song about. Though even if you don't have the money to spend on an over seas adventure, why not see what you can find in and around your city? It's easy to think you've seen it all when you've lived somewhere long enough, so ask around for recommendations of cool things to see. I promise you will be surprised what you find if you just give it a chance.
Whatever you do, don't forget to bring a notebook for when that inspiration strikes!
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!
Meditation has become quite a commonly used method of relaxation in the past few years, and that's because it works. A big part of writer's block is that negative voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough. Meditation is a powerful tool that can train your brain to quiet those voices and focus on the important things. There are many resources online, or probably even classes available in your area that can teach you the best ways to practice this.
Start small by working meditation into your schedule for only a few minutes a day. Once you get the hang of that, see if you can stretch that time. They say that the people who are too busy to meditate are the people who need it the most.
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.
Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.