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In the writing of my latest book, “Beating Songwriter’s Block: Jump-Start Your Words and Music,” I did considerable research into the concept of creativity. After all, everyone knows that if you’re going through a period of finding songwriting difficult, it’s your sense of creativity that takes a hit.
In fact, I discovered that that’s not exactly true; it’s more complex than that. My research led me to comparing the terms “imagination” and “creativity,” and the surprise for me was that those two terms were not synonymous. Specifically, it’s quite possible to be imaginative without being creative.
For you as a songwriter, the imagination comes into play when you try to conjure up musical ideas. As you then imagine several ideas and try to blend them together into a piece of music, you move from the imagination stage to a creative stage.
There are lots of reasons that writer’s block kicks in, and most of those reasons are psychology-based, rooted in fear. But the fear comes from someplace, not the result of a simple lack of inspiration. Sometimes the block occurs at the creation stage, where you just can’t put things together properly. But that’s not common; it typically happens even earlier. The most common root of a creative block is the low quality of ideas being imagined in the first place.
So that begs the question: how do you enhance your songwriter’s imagination? How do you make sure that the ideas you’re producing in the first place are good quality ideas that can lead to good music? Here are some tips:
- Listen to lots of music from many different genres. This opens your mind and deepens the well of ideas from which you can create music.
- Structure your songwriting time. Develop a schedule that makes sense in your busy life, one that allows you to write while feeling rested and musically alert.
- Work on playing as much as on writing. Playing an instrument helps you imagine musical ideas you might otherwise miss.
- Develop your abilities to think your music. If songwriting for you means sitting at a piano, or strumming a guitar, try imagining musical ideas before hunting for them at your piano. Not easy at first, but it’s a great exercise.
- Do songwriting exercises. I’ve listed some elsewhere in this blog, here and here, for example. The great thing about exercises is that it reduces the stress we put on ourselves to create fully-fledged songs. Working quickly means that our brain must generate ideas without second-guessing, and that enhances the imagination.
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Gary is also the author of “Beating Songwriter’s Block: Jump-Start Your Words and Music“, published in hardcopy by Backbeat Books, and available from Amazon and most other online booksellers.
Although I like to sit at the piano (an instrument i am hardly skilled at) and noodle through chord sequences, it does seem to happen that while away from my project studio, while a progression of chords I’d played earlier is on repeat in my mind that melody and lyrics might strike me. Doesn’t happen everyday, but my better melodic ideas tend to come while “thinking” away from instruments than sitting with a guitar or a keyboard.
As for the second paragraph of the reply above, it’s a responsible message, but I would bet a great deal of music we collectively admire has been written under the influence of one psychotropic drug or another. Glamorizing it it one thing, but denying a piece of work like, “Dark Side of the Moon” was completed without any accompanying “altered” states is likely naive. Just ask Samuel Taylor Cooleridge or Kurt Cobain. Well, perhaps we can’t, but you get my point. Don’t mean to sound arrogant, just realistic.
You think you have a block ? walk away from the place you normally write, you dont cycle? borrow a bike ride a few miles, You dont fish?? borrow a rod and find a river think fishing and after a while your sub conscious will tell you what you are looking for, Read a short novel from a writer you have never heard of or even one you have, the sub conscious is still working on that little piece of information that will start a new song or help finish one you have started, doing something new or different to your normal daily functions
will stir up ideas and start linking stored information that is in your brain.
Dont take drugs , no need to get tipsy or drunk, that is all negative, dont believe acts that tell you they wrote something great, whilst under drugs , that is normally a load of rubbish
told by some arse journalist. You are not going to write genial and original lines every day
more important explore the song formats you dont listen to , you may surprise yourself.
and come up with something great.