Waiting for inspiration might be one of the biggest wastes of time in songwriting, and in other creative arts. It’s true that from time to time you’re just not feeling creative. And the solution always seems to be: just wait for it. But waiting is often not the best way forward.
It should be no surprise that our musical imagination has good days and bad days. Everything else we do in our lives usually happens in cycles: if you’re a runner, for example, you’ve got days when everything feels great, and days when you feel you can barely move.
When we don’t feel particularly creative, it feels most natural to simply stop and wait: wait for the musical imagination to return.
But here’s the problem with waiting: you don’t develop any techniques for helping yourself through your creative block. Because you step back, your not engaging your creative side, and so now you are waiting for some kind of externally-sourced inspiration to happen to you.
The best inspiration I know comes from your own music — your own creative process. You may not feel like writing, but working through a mild or moderate writer’s block is one of the best ways to rediscover the excitement of writing music.
If you’ve got a severe block, one that’s been on the go for months now, it’s true that stopping, at least temporarily, gives you an opportunity to reset, to come back fresh after a good long rest. In some cases where the block is debilitating, waiting might indeed be better than trying to move forward.
But if you’ve got a mild or moderate case of writer’s block, take a short break, and then pick up your pencil or your recording device, and force yourself forward. Waiting is simply wasting time.
It won’t always work, but more often than not, writing when you don’t feel like it has a positive effect on your musical imagination. Writing forces you to draw on your knowledge of how good music works. And new ideas, even if they’re created at times of feeling uninspired, will help create a new and powerful sense of inspiration that gets you moving forward again.
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