paper & pencil - songwriter

When Songwriting Ideas Dry Up

It’s frustrating when you can’t come up with any good songwriting ideas. When that happens on random days, we call that normal.

Creativity is not a tap you turn on with an endless supply of ideas at your disposal. It’s normal to have days when ideas just don’t seem to happen. Most of the time, you might call it a lack of inspiration.

When you feel uninspired, the proper response is not necessarily to stop writing. Often, the best response is to sit down and try writing anyway.

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That’s not because you can force creativity out of an otherwise locked-up musical brain. It’s because one of the best sources of inspiration is your own work.

As you compose, you create fragments of ideas. You may not know yet what’s going to happen with those ideas, but it’s common to feel a little jolt of musical excitement. That excitement leads you down a path where you start to imagine other ideas that could work with it.

You then find something that clicks, and you get another jolt of excitement. And on it goes.

That’s on a good day.

So what about the days when that’s not happening?

Not every day will be a good one. There will be plenty of days when you can generate ideas, but they either don’t seem like good ones, or you can’t find other ideas to partner up with the first ones.

That’s normal. If it were easy, there would be a lot more songwriters in the world. And most of the time, the proper response is to try writing anyway, to try to take advantage of the self-generated inspiration that comes from your own success.

When It’s Best To Stop

But then there are the days when it might make most sense to stop and turn your musical attentions elsewhere for a day or two, or even a week or more.

How you know that it’s time to step back is when you feel that frustration is creating intensely negative emotions in your creative brain. If you feel that everything you do is lousy, and you fully expect everything else you try is going to be similarly lousy, you experience writer’s block as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

That’s when it’s best to stop and turn your attentions to playing your instrument, producing someone else’s music, or perhaps just listening to good music.

You need to get your musical emotions sorted out and back on track, and if writing is preventing that from happening, you need to give it up for a short time.

And at those times, it’s best to remind yourself that all songwriters go through this. Only you will know the best response to it.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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