I recently read an interesting article written by Susan Reynolds, “Five Reasons You’re Experiencing Writer’s Block,” available at the Psychology Today website. In it, Reynolds make the case that writer’s block is a condition that we’ve created for ease of identification, and that it doesn’t actually exist. She starts this way:
We’re going to go there, right now, even though it might lead to automatic resistance: Writer’s block is a myth.
Her assertion isn’t as radical as it sounds, and in fact, I hope you take the time to read her article because she offers a very clear analysis of what’s going on when you feel “blocked.” Though her essay pertains specifically to writers of fiction and non-fiction, her observations apply every bit as much to the writing of music.
Many problems can make finishing a song difficult, but this ebook, “Fix Your Songwriting Problems – NOW!” outlines 7 of the most common ones, and offers solutions you can try. Get it separately, or as part of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting 10-eBook Bundle”
To summarize her position on writer’s block, Reynolds contends that difficulties in writing is part of what being a writer is all about. It’s a natural condition. Partly through the “creation” of the term writer’s block (“the concept originated in the early 19th Century when the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge first described his “indefinite indescribable terror” at not being able to produce work he thought worthy of his talent”), we’ve come to expect that the free-flowing of ideas is the normal condition, and difficulties getting the flow happening is a situation to be fixed.
Reynolds then outlines what she sees as the five most common reasons for difficulties being creative:
- You’ve Lost Your Way
- Your Passion Has Waned
- Your Expectations Are Too High
- You Are Burned Out
- You’re Too Distracted
Again, I encourage you to read her article because I think she makes some very strong points, and her thoughts on each of those headings are very useful for anyone in the creative arts, including, I believe, songwriters.
I have only one quibble: she’s saying that the fact that there are real reasons for creative difficulties (“You are burned out”, for example) means that you don’t really have writer’s block, you are simply exhausted. “Lie back, have a margarita, and chill,” she says. “Once you’re rested, you’ll likely find the desire to write has come roaring back.”
I’m struggling to believe that a case of burnout can be solved by a margarita. To me, burnout is a deeper condition that usually requires implementing some fundamental changes in one’s creative process.
I do like her point that by labeling creative difficulties as writer’s block, we’ve created a condition that needs solutions, when in fact the normal state of things in creative writing (whether words or music) is dealing with creative difficulties. A bit like coming up with a medical term for hunger pangs.
But each one of the reasons she lists for writer’s block, whether they’re a normal part of writing or not, has a more common cause: a fear of failure. It may be true that creative difficulties are a normal part of writing, but a fear of failure can make those common difficulties feel debilitating.
And not only debilitating, but bigger and more daunting than they need to be. Whether a creative block is normal or not, some writers still need help coping with it, and coming up with real solutions that will help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this; please add your comments below.
The ideas in this blog article are the kinds of things you’ll read about and discover in “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 10-eBook Bundle. Discover the secrets of songwriting that really grab attention: chords, melodies, lyrics, form, and more. Get today’s FREE DEAL: a copy of “Creative Chord Progressions”