Quiet time before writing will give great results, but not if you use that time to allow negative thoughts in.
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Psychological research shows that taking a break before you begin a creative activity (like songwriting) has the beneficial effect of stimulating the imagination. But there can be a downside to sitting and allowing yourself to become bored, especially if you’ve been finding it difficult to get into a flow with your songwriting. That downside is the ease with which we can allow frustrations to take over our quiet thoughts.
Writer’s block, whether we’re talking about music, words, or any other creative endeavour, stems from a fear of failure — a fear that the difficulties you’re presently encountering are never going to solve themselves.
It follows, then, that allowing yourself a 15-minute break before you start to write might simply allow yourself time to think about your songwriting in a negative light. In other words, that little break you take before you begin your songwriting session could be making things more difficult.
If you’re prone to falling into the creative abyss called writer’s block, try the following techniques before every songwriting session. They’ll ensure that you don’t use your pre-writing break to get down about yourself:
- Be positive! Sit or walk quietly and put on a song that you love (whether it’s yours or someone else’s.) Just listen. Let yourself feel good about music in general, and don’t allow negative feelings or fears take over.
- Daydream. The purpose of the 15-minute break prior to writing is actually to allow your brain to go wherever it wants. The best use of this time is to do what most people do when they’re sitting on a bus: daydream. Your brain does amazing things, especially at the times you think it’s doing nothing.
- Take your break in different locations. You can fall into a rut if you take your pre-writing break in the same place all the time. Let one day be a walk in the park, another be in your writing room, perhaps another even walking through the local mall. Don’t look for exciting locations — your break will be more effective if you put yourself somewhere that doesn’t overly stimulate your mind.
- Don’t ponder writer’s block. Wondering how you’re going to get over your creative block keeps you focused on the negative at a time when you want to be positive. If you find your thoughts straying into your songwriting struggles, keep your thoughts positive, and think about the successes you’ve experienced, even if it’s been a long time since you’ve experienced them.
- Imagine success. You can reap great creative rewards if you spend a bit of time imagining your own success. We often don’t care to overly praise ourselves, because it takes a bit more ego than we like. But it’s important to see yourself and your songwriting efforts as unique and important. No one writes the way you do; it’s not possible for anyone to make the contributions to music that you do.
All of this assumes that you’re already doing the things that make writer’s block difficult to grab hold: setting and keeping a daily writing schedule, and listening to good music every day from many different genres.
Remember that the pre-writing break is intended to get your brain thinking creatively. Boredom should be a key feature of that break, even if it feels counterintuitive to you.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter.
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