Any creative activity requires the brain to be generating new ideas spontaneously. As a songwriter, you know that there are days when that feels easy and natural, and other days when it feels impossible.
There is debate over whether or not it’s good to force yourself to write, even on the days you don’t want to write. I tend to believe that if you do it the right way, daily songwriting is better than sporadic songwriting.
But what about those days when it seems that you just can’t come up with anything?
The Occasional Break
Well, there are days when it actually does make sense to stop and divert your attention: change your creative activity from songwriting to, perhaps, playing your instrument, producing someone else’s recording, or even just talking to someone else about songwriting.
There’s something to be said for this kind of break from songwriting, as long as it’s just occasional. The creative side of your brain can get overused and under-supplied. The best way to rejuvenate your creative abilities is sometimes to stop what you’re doing for a few days. Returning to songwriting will often feel fresh and new.
Re-Structuring Your Daily Songwriting Objectives
More often than not, when you feel that you just can’t do anything creative, it’s due to the fact that you’re making unreasonable demands on your musical imagination that go beyond what you’re able to do on that day.
What this means is that instead of simply stopping, it is usually better to readjust and rethink what you’re asking yourself to do.
So if you’re feeling frustrated and negative because you can’t write a song, your goal is too ambitious, at least for that particular day. It’s far better to rethink your daily objective; maybe instead of aiming to write a song, your daily goal might rather be:
- Come up with a list of good song titles.
- Come up with a short chord progression and a creative backing rhythm and short melodic idea.
- Write a good chorus hook.
- Edit a song you’ve already written.
- Choose a song topic and brainstorm a list of words that pertain to that topic.
- Write a short 4- or 5-note melody, and see what different chords you can use to accompany it.
- Write a lyric, with no worry or consideration for the melody or chords that will eventually accompany it.
As you likely will have noticed, all seven of those ideas are just another way of saying: write part of a song rather than the whole thing.
By doing this, you remove the pressure you’re feeling of writing a full song. You’ll simply be asking your creative brain to do one small bit of a song, and the benefit is that once you’ve done it, you’ll feel that you’ve achieved something on that day.
There are lots of ways and reasons that writer’s block sets in, but certainly it’s always true to say that negativity is the fuel that keeps it going. By switching your mindset from writing a song to writing part of a song, you’ve found the best way to keep songwriting as a daily activity, and feeling good about it.