Working Gradually and Carefully to Solve Writer’s Block

If you’re an athlete, you know this: when you’ve been injured and can’t perform your sport, you take the time away to do whatever is necessary to heal. Once you’ve healed, you ease your way back into your regular routine, gradually and carefully.

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Writer’s block isn’t an injury, of course, but there are similarities. Like an injured athlete, you can’t continue. You need time away. You need to do whatever is necessary to fix the problem. And then you get back at it.

But where we don’t seem to learn the lesson that athletes have learned is that we often dive back in, trying to write songs in much the same way that we did before the creative block set in.

Most of the time when dealing with writer’s block, it’s your songwriter’s ego that takes a hit. You lose confidence, and you feel as though nothing’s ever going to work for you again. Of course this usually isn’t the case; most of the time, you get things sorted and you find yourself writing songs again.

But I’d like to make a pitch for getting back at it gradually and carefully, just like good athletes do. What does that mean in the songwriting world? Here are just three things you can and should be doing.

  1. Write smaller bits. Allow yourself a reduction in stress, and work on small bits of songs, like a line or two of lyric, a short bit of melody, or perhaps finish a nearly-completed song. Avoid, at least for the time being, tasking yourself with writing a full song. Take the pressure off.
  2. Help other songwriters. Using your songwriting skills by helping another songwriter with problems they might be having is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing, but removing the responsibility you feel to write a song yourself. At least for a while, you get to use your songwriting powers while taking a much-needed rest.
  3. Shift from writing to production. If you do your own producing, now’s the time to focus on that aspect of what you do. Think about musical arrangements, writing backing vocals, re-recording older songs — anything to keep you thinking about music while allowing yourself some time away from the actual writing of music.

As you shift your focus to these other activities, move back toward writing gradually and carefully. If you feel frustration creeping into your songwriting activities, back away again and give yourself more time.

By keeping the focus mainly on smaller writing tasks, helping others, or arranging music, you’ll still feel relevant — still feel creative. That’s an important part of defeating a creative block.

And like the athlete who returns to their sport slowly but surely, you’ll find that your longterm prospects look better than ever.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle includes“Writing a Song From a Chord Progression”. Discover the secrets of making the chords-first songwriting process work for you.

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