Welcome to Song Blog! Today’s Subject “The Dreaded Writer’s Block”

I want to welcome everyone to the Song Blog!

I know the name of the blog isn’t very imaginative. I welcome any suggestions.
I hope you’ll enjoy the blog as we learn about blogging by doing it. I’ll periodically post songwriting subjects with my take on them and encourage you to post yours.

OK then, let’s get on with it!

Dealing with the Dreaded Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there. Staring at the blank sheet of paper! Holding the guitar in our hands and playing the same boring melody over and over again. To quote Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, “What’s a poor boy to do? “ Well don’t give up hope! There are strategies you can use to combat the dreaded writers block!

1. Don’t Push It!

I’ve been writing songs for a long long time and one of the reasons, I believe, that I haven’t lost interest is that I never feel guilty if I haven’t written something in awhile. I believe that once you start linking the songwriting process with something you should do and linking it with guilt it starts to look more and more like a chore and less and less like something you savor and look forward to. I’m not saying that songwriting isn’t work. It is but it’s good work! Work that should inspire you to do more! Not tedium!

2. Honor Our Heroes!

One approach that helps me to get my creative juices flowing again is to remind myself what attracted me to the art form to begin with. I’ll sometimes either start out by playing a cover of a song I’ve always loved or take a break and do it. Go listen to one of your favorite songs by one of your favorite songwriters. Enjoy the moment and really listen. Realize once again how potent songwriting can be!

3. Trash Our Heroes!

Now that you’ve listened to one of your hero’s best songs listen to your least favorite song by the same songwriter! Not every painting by DaVinci was a ‘Mona Lisa’! For me regarding Bob Dylan, all I have to do is put ‘Self Portrait’ on and I realize even someone like him sometimes struggles. They’re human just like us! Feel better now?

4. Take a Break!

Yes, something as simple as giving yourself some time away from the challenge can often help. Get up and read the newspaper or go online or take a walk, anything other than starting at that blank sheet of paper!

5. Co-Write!

There will be more about co-writing later in the class but for now consider co-writing as way of finishing a song that you’re stumped on or finishing your co-writer’s half finished song! Bring in a fresh pair of eyes and with a new approach can open doors you never knew existed.

Any other suggestions on how to deal with it?

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14 thoughts on “Welcome to Song Blog! Today’s Subject “The Dreaded Writer’s Block”

  1. Great ideas, Jim!

    Sometimes I find that switching mediums / techniques can help.

    Joni is a painter, and Jewel is supposedly an accomplished “poet” (in a Walmart store near you).

    I don’t really have any other creative outlets, but for me, sometimes just “free writing” stream of consciousness with pen to paper, or doing some avant garde instrumental improv can really help get my juices flowing again.

    Taking the expectation of “writing a song” out of it usually helps. And I definitely agree with just walking away, and not developing a habit of spinning your wheels for even five minutes. Studies show that we all work better when we cultivate short focused productive sessions, and don’t let ourselves simply “space out”.

    There’s a difference between “spacing out”, and actively listening to the ether for a song lingering there. I usually find that I can hear the ether best when I’m in motion: driving in a car alone, or taking a walk or bike ride, or even showering; so just getting up and moving around can be refreshing.

    Lastly, changing the time of day you sit down to write can be effective. I’m definitely not a morning person, but some folks find their mind is the most clear and open then. I personally like to take a listen when I’m drifting off to sleep… so I keep a notepad on my nightstand.

    Cool blog, man! Looking forward to reading more posts. :)

    Melody

    1. Hi Genevieve,
      Thank you!
      If you’d like to be notified when there’s new posts to the blog please become a “follower” by clicking the “follow” button at the bottom of the page.

  2. Whether you’re writing songs, prose, or poetry, “writer’s block” may mean we have our inner critic turned on. The first draft of anything is not the time for critique. (This is boring, no good, just like my other song, just like someone else’s song, has bad lyrics, etc, etc.). One technique I’ve found very helpful is to set the clock for 5 minutes and just write–write anything, just don’t stop. When the time is up, go back and see if there are words or phrases that interest you; maybe you can use them. The time for our own or others’ critique is when the first version of the song has fully arrived.

    It’s also important to have a way to record ideas when they come to you. I use my Iphone, but any recording device will do. When the fragment of a song comes to you, record it immediately, or it may be lost. I get up at 3AM to do this when it happens.

    Thanks for starting this, Jim. Happy writing everyone!
    Victoria Lee

  3. I find it useful to compile a large list of opening lines from one or more songwriters who I respect. It helps me to see how many different ways that you can begin telling a story.

  4. If you can’t write a line, write a melody and maybe the words will follow. If you can’t write a melody, work out the melody of an old favorite and when you have the chords to it, maybe a new melody will follow.

  5. Here are some potentially useful articles on the internet for overcoming writers block and songwriter’s block. (Check out #1 under Songwriter’s block)

    Overcoming Writer’s Block:

    1. http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/composition/brainstorm_block.htm
    2. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/567/1/
    3. http://io9.com/5844988/the-10-types-of-writers-block-and-how-to-overcome-them
    4. http://flavorwire.com/343207/13-famous-writers-on-overcoming-writers-block
    5. http://www.webook.com/911writersblock
    6. http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm
    7. http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-tips-punching-writers-block-in-face/
    8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/writers-block-_n_2200003.html
    9. http://blog.hostbaby.com/2010/04/8-cures-for-lyric-writers-block/
    10. http://www.cws.illinois.edu/workshop/writers/tips/writersblock/

    Overcoming Songwriter’s Block:

    1. http://www.guitarhabits.com/33-impeccable-ways-to-overcome-songwriters-block/
    2. http://blog.songtrust.com/songwriting-tips/5-ways-to-conquer-songwriters-block/
    3. http://garyewer.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/7-symptoms-of-songwriters-block-and-what-to-do-about-them/
    4. http://members.nashvillesongwriters.com/news.php?viewStory=2307
    5. http://daviddas.com/2011/05/cure-writers-block-and-get-inspired/
    6. http://blog.discmakers.com/2011/08/songwriting-and-writers-block-11-tips-to-help-the-songwriter-get-unstuck/
    7. http://www.musesmuse.com/wrblock.html
    8. http://creativesoulmusic.com/blog/bid/161556/Overcoming-Songwriter-s-Block
    9. http://www.songcrypt.net/discuss/196-6-cures-for-moderate-songwriter-s-block
    10. http://suite101.com/article/tackling-songwriters-block-a184677

    Writer’s Block Software:

    1. http://www.writersblocks.com/

    1. What I have to guard against is to not confuse laziness with writer’s block. I attended a workshop in Nashville a while back and one of the faculty said something that I’ve always remembered: “Resist your temptation to not work and resist your temptation to work shallowly.” I try to not confuse procrastination with writer’s block.

      Another method that I use is to try to “dumb down” my lyrics. I find that at times I have a tendency to examine really profound and general subjects rather than using real life specific instances to illustrate the point I’m trying to make When I find myself going there, I try to combat it by reviewing in my mind lots of slang and “street” type language. My favorite songs are the kind that take everyday expressions and put a new twist on them. Word game, I guess you’d call it.

      That being said, I still really like all the suggestions on this blog. Write on, folks!

      JM

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