Taking a break

Songwriting, Decision-Making, and the Need for Breaks

As a songwriter, if you’re not taking regular breaks from your writing activity, you’re probably not getting the most from your creative brain. It’s been well-researched and well-documented that we’re more likely to have bursts of creativity immediately following a period of downtime. (Read this interesting article, How Resting More Can Boost Your Productivity.)

There’s another great article that I think you’ll find both informative and directly applicable to your activities as a songwriter. “How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers“from the “Psychology Today” website looks at the way the human brain needs to be constantly rested in order to work at optimum efficiency.

I’ve often described songwriting as “decision-making.” Creating word lists, experimenting with melodies and pairing them up with chords… everything requires, in the end, making a decision. When decision-making is part of the creative process, there’s a very real need for frequent rest. Taking a break gives your brain the opportunity to reset, and more often than not you’ll find that your best musical decisions happen when you return from a break.

If today is supposed to be a heavy writing day for you, can I make a suggestion: take the time you’ve planned to devote to songwriting, and break it up into smaller chunks of time, with short 5-15 minute breaks (or even longer) in between.

Those breaks, which allow your brain time away from decision-making, are crucial. With experience, you may find that you can devote longer periods of time to songwriting by simply inserting a few well-timed breaks.

Please give the ideas you find in those articles a try, and feel free to comment below and let me know how the taking of breaks has helped your songwriting activities.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter

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