Written by Gary Ewer, author also of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle.
My book “Beating Songwriters’s Block: Jump-Start Your Words and Music,” has recently been released in hardcover on the US Amazon website. In answer to several questions I’ve received lately, of the “what will this book do for me?” variety, I thought I’d give you a chapter-by-chapter overview that describes how you will benefit from reading this book.
The overall objective of “Beating Songwriter’s Block” is simple: I wanted to write something that would not only cure the writer’s block you’re currently facing, but to give you songwriting exercises and ideas – a plan of action, if you will – that will hopefully ensure that your regular bout with the block won’t return. And I wanted to base the majority of those ideas, as much as possible, on what the scientific research into the concepts of imagination, creativity, and creative blocks has to say.
So here’s a brief look at each of the ten chapters:
Chapter 1: Songwriter’s Block: What It Is And Where It Comes From
You’ll learn how imagination and knowledge come together when you compose songs, but how a fear of failure can bring everything to a halt. It’s normal to have days when songwriting is difficult or impossible, but as this chapter points out, a day without rain is not necessarily the beginning of a drought. You’ll learn that the three severities of writer’s block (mild, moderate and severe) respond best to different sorts of solutions. So whether you’re feeling that you’re at the beginning of a block, or have been suffering for months or even longer without being able to write, you’ll get ideas for tackling your block that you can try right away.
You’ll also learn that a lack of a disciplined approach to scheduling your songwriting activities can cause songwriter’s block to keep recurring, and that will move you directly into Chapter 2…
Chapter 2: Rebuilding Your Writing Life
Without a sensible writing schedule, you are doomed to feel the return of songwriter’s block as a regular feature of your creative life. But many songwriters work out a schedule that’s unreasonable and doesn’t fit well into their daily lives. So this chapter teaches you how to make a daily schedule that really works.
Chapter 2 also describes the result of important research done into the effectiveness of “making yourself write”: yes, it really works. And it offers some possible inducements (shall we say punishments?) if you miss your songwriting targets. Yes, forcing yourself to write will work, and it can be fun.
Chapter 3: Workouts To Get Your Music Flowing
This chapter digs into the two major aspects of songwriting that take a hit when you encounter a songwriting block: melodic writing and the writing of lyrics. You’ll find page after page of ideas that can get you writing melodies and words in the form of exercises and games. The benefit of these exercises is that it takes away the pressure to write a complete song. So you’ll find the ideas in this chapter will allow you to relax, allowing your creative mind take over.
Chapter 4: Thinking Like a Songwriter
This book makes an important point that there are two parts of the songwriting process: imagination and creation; and that both are necessary in order to write music. Chapter 4 looks at the psychology of composition – what goes on in our minds when we try to imagine musical ideas. It offers some basic thoughts on how to improve your songwriting habits, and looks closely at five psychological causes of songwriter’s block, including burnout and so-called imposter syndrome.
Chapter 5: What Makes A Successful Song
This chapter makes the important point that often a creative block will occur when the basic structure of music is misunderstood. In other words, your mind may be ready to create music, but you’re putting your songs together in such a way that simply doesn’t work. You can hear that something’s wrong, but can’t tell what the problem is. Chapter 5 looks at the basic formal structure of music, the importance of the hook, how symmetry works, the varying ways to start a song, and much more. There is a natural sense of energy that comes from music that’s well-constructed, and your songwriting can stop dead in its tracks if your understanding of song structure is flawed.
Chapter 6: Verses, Choruses, Bridge: The Moving Parts
In this chapter we’ll put a magnifying glass on each section of a song, and describe how they effect the way we perceive music as a whole. And what does this have to do with songwriter’s block? Writing counterintuitively, which includes making “errors” in how we glue the various bits of songs together, can impair the creative process, and the end result is writer’s block. In other words, many times the cause of writer’s block can be a technical, not a creative, failure. Solve your technical problems, and you’ve likely solved your block.
Chapter 7: Creating Melodies
Good melodies are not just pleasant to listen to, they should be fun to write. If you find that your writer’s block shows up every time you try to write a melody, you’ll get some good ideas for how to make the process simpler, and how to ensure that you’re able to write with ease. And if you keep getting stuck, there is a way to create enticing melodies by starting on one simple note.
Chapter 8: Chord Progressions
If you keep getting stuck at the chord progression stage, the simple answer is: check out lists of chord progressions, since they aren’t protected by copyright. But if you want to learn how to create progressions that make the whole process of songwriting easier, you’ll find ideas in this chapter. You’ll learn that even though many songwriters randomly strum chords until they find something that works, the reason certain chord progressions sound good is not the result of a random process. You’ll also learn how to stimulate your overall sense of creativity by tweaking your approach to chords.
Chapter 9: Writing Words That Count
In this chapter you’ll learn how lyrics change as a song progresses, and that getting your lyrical ideas “in the wrong order” can bring your songwriting to a grinding halt. The best way to learn to write good lyrics is to study good lyrics, so you’ll find lots of good examples of songwriters who really know what they’re doing. You’ll also learn about public domain poetry, the importance of imagery, how good lyrics can help you create good melodies, and more.
Chapter 10: The Final Hurdle: Production and Marketing
Since songwriter’s block is often a product of fear, getting success for yourself can be a large part of stimulating your creative mind and keeping you writing. As they say, nothing succeeds like success. So in this chapter you’ll find some ideas for how to break into the market, how to properly target an audience, and how to “be the new direction in music.” Ideas to keep you excited and creative include how to develop an online presence, as well as how to improve the quality of your recordings.
Chapter 11: Use Your Imagination
In this final chapter, we go back to looking at the psychological impact of writer’s block, and explore on a deeper level the battle between imagination and creativity, with ideas on how to deepen your songwriter’s imagination.
“Beating Songwriter’s Block” takes the view that a creative block is not always a problem with one’s imagination; it often is the result of misunderstanding how and why good music works. Once you’ve addressed the psychological aspects of musical imagination, and then target the technical side, you’re well on your way to a lasting solution to songwriter’s block.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter