Forcing Yourself to Write Your Next Song: Does it Work?

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frustrated musicianThere are typical things that songwriters should be doing to avoid writer’s block. Setting and sticking to a regular writing schedule, working on smaller projects, creating in other art forms, and so on. There’s another approach that bears some consideration: forcing yourself to write even when the ideas are hard to come by. But does it simply compound the problem and result in even more frustration? Does it work to compel yourself to write music?

I believe that the answer is a qualified “yes.” It can actually help to stick to your writing schedule and keep working on writing, even if you feel that it’s not working well for you, and here’s the reason.

Composing music (indeed, creating within any art form) is a bringing together of your creative mind and your technical know-how. When we feel frustrated as writers, it’s usually the creative mind that’s stuck. We want to create, but all of our ideas seem to evaporate before us, and we’re left feeling that nothing is working.

On the other hand, there is much about songwriting that relies on our technical knowledge, things that songs usually need to do in order to be successful.

For example, whether we feel frustrated or not, it’s a given that most melodies will move higher as they progress from verse to chorus. Most song instrumentations become thicker and busier as the song moves along. Most lyrics will use verses to describe situations, and use choruses to emote. These are things we know, and will continue to know whether we feel creative or not.

It doesn’t actually take a great deal of inspiration (i.e., our creative mind) to fashion a verse or chorus melody. But what happens is that writer’s block doesn’t just impair our ability to write: we find it difficult to assess our writing. Even if we come up with a melody that’s quite decent, we don’t feel like we have the ability to know if it’s working or not.

So my advice is this: even at times when we feel like nothing we’re writing is working, we should still do it. Then get moving right to the technical stage of writing, which is far less marred by writer’s block. Make sure that the verse and chorus melodies are constructed properly, make sure that energy is building throughout the song, and make sure that lyrics are starting to do what they’re supposed to do.

You’ll then find that the simple act of working on your song becomes inspirational, and your writer’s block begins to subside. When it does, you’ll be able to dive back into your song’s melodies, lyrics, harmonies, etc., and start to edit and change things as your creative mind clears.

In a way, you’re forcing yourself to write, but spending most of your time on the technical aspect of composition. I like to think of it as “outsmarting” writer’s block.

So in a very real way, you’re not “forcing” yourself to write. You’re simply spending more time on the technical aspect of writing, and allowing that aspect of your talent to rejuvenate your creative mind.


Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website
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  1. I comPLETEly agree… Mondays are my “writing” days, and I write whether I want to or not. And usually the writer’s block fades as soon as I start putting words down. The technique gives me something to stand on, and then my right-brain feels safe enough to come out of hiding, and BAM there’s a song! 🙂

    • Thanks for that comment, Mandy. I think other songwriters find it encouraging to know that everyone goes through the creative doldrums from time to time, and that there’s nothing abnormal about it. And that just sticking with it really does work.

      Thanks again,

  2. Thanks very much for this post! It was definitely something I believe I need to hear right now, because I’ve been aggravated by pretty much everything I’ve written for a while. I guess I’ll just keep going until something strikes me as a solid song.

  3. Great post, Gary. There’s a great quote that I love which simply says: ‘Keep your hand moving’. As long as you keep on writing, you’ll clear all the roadblocks you find.

    PP x

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