Overcoming Songwriter's Block

By: Jerry A. Greene

Question: Every time I sit down to write a new song, I just can't find a way to get started. What can I do to get the creative juices flowing?

Answer: When it comes to songwriting, nothing can feel worse than looking at a blank page, or even worse a page with a partially completed song and nowhere else to go with it. The feeling that "every song has already been written" is felt by even the most prolific of all songwriters. Getting over this feeling is the secret to becoming a prolific songwriter yourself.

Let me offer you the following ideas on how to overcome your songwriters block:

•  Stop working on the song for a while and do something else. Going for a walk, or to an inspirational place can sometimes help overcome these feelings of songwriter's block.

•  Go to the library, or bookstore and look at some of the latest titles. Pick a random fictional book up and flip to a random page. Read it for only a page, or two and try to figure out what the story is about. This will get your mind thinking creatively to solve the problem of "not knowing what is going on" which is the same part of the brain that is used in forming a new song. Maybe come up with your own title of the section you are reading.

•  If you write both the lyrics and the music, and you are trying to write from one on of these points of view, switch! Give the lyrics a break and just fiddle around at your instrument until you come up with something. Often a groove, or lick can give you all the inspiration you need to get started.

•  If you have a drum machine, put on a beat and start to sing to it. It doesn't matter what you sing, just come up with something! Remember to have a recording device recording everything you sing. In listening to a recording of random melodies and lyric ideas, you may find a golden nugget that can be expanded into a whole song.

•  Sit back and relax your mind. Allow yourself to completely let go of the "act of songwriting". Sometimes just the fact that you "have to come up with something" can actually stunt your abilities to do so. Once you are relaxed, listen to the subconscious mind. If you stop and try to listen to what the mind does (one thought follows another and another in a never-ending chain.) you may find that your mind is trying to tell you something. It may even be giving you a "seed" for a new song idea.

•  Take a short nap. Sometimes just sitting back and relaxing is not enough. Sometimes you just need a little energy boost and a "brain flushing". You'll be surprised how much better you will feel once you have had a short cat nap. Be careful how long you sleep though, because if you wake up during the deep-sleep part of a sleep cycle, you will feel sluggish for a long time. Set your alarm to wake you in 20 minutes. You may even wake up with an idea for a new song without even actively thinking about it! Another reason to "sleep on it."

•  If you have some song ideas with some lines of lyrics already, try to come up 5 different ways of saying each line as if it were part of a completely different song. Sometimes changing up the lyrics will give you new rhyming ideas, or take you in a completely different song direction all together.

Sometimes the best thing you can do, when faced with songwriters block, is to just put pen to the paper (or fingers to keyboard) and WRITE. It doesn't matter what you write about. Just start putting song ideas down. Don't erase anything! It doesn't matter if you think that a line of lyric is stupid, or that it just wont work. Think of some of the craziest songs out there that have become hits. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING can become a hit.so keep writing!