Songwriter- Writer's Block

Do You Burn Out As a Songwriter? Here’s What You Can Do About It

As a writer of songs, you’ll probably notice that you’ve got two important qualities:

  1. Your ability to come up with good musical ideas;
  2. Your ability to work for longish periods of time to get the song finished.

Good songwriters usually have both of those working for them when things are going well. But from time to time, you’ll notice that your ability to come up with good ideas diminishes a bit. And there are times when you’re still able to generate good song ideas, but you seem to run out of creative steam early in the process on any given day.

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Both of those “conditions” are ones that we usually know by the word burnout. When you feel burned out, you’re either discovering that you can’t come up with anything good, or even if you can, you just can’t seem to sustain a good sense of momentum, and within a few minutes you’re feeling frustrated.

If you’re suffering right now from either of those conditions, there are things you can do to make sure the burnout doesn’t proceed to a full-on case of severe writer’s block. Here are five things that can help get you back to feeling creative and successful:

  1. Allow yourself some downtime. Too many times we feel guilty for needing some time to just chill and demand less of ourselves. But we all need that, so take as much time as you need.
  2. Develop a plan for your songwriting. Deciding that once you’ve finished one song you’ll start the next one isn’t a plan. So take a day to think about where you want to be in the next year… the next five years… the next ten years. It’s a bit like developing a new year’s resolution, but think of it more as developing a plan for your songwriting life. Maybe you want to gig more? Get better equipment? Create a songwriting partnership? Don’t leave these things to chance — get a plan, write it down, and put it into action.
  3. Think about a publicity plan for yourself. How do you get news of your latest songs out there? Social media? Website? Concert notices? It can be part of keeping you feeling charged up and inspired to know that you’ve got an eager audience waiting for your next songs. But if you don’t have a system or plan in place, then you’re simply leaving all of this to chance.
  4. Try other ways of being creative. I mention this a lot on this blog, but it can be a tremendously important part of staying inspired to try your hand at poetry, painting, carpentry… anything else that makes you feel creative without the pressure of getting your next song written.
  5. Try a songwriting collaboration. Try this at first without committing to more than one song. Find someone you think would make a good songwriting partner, and try composing together. The best thing about a collaboration is that the other writer may have strengths that exceed your own in certain areas, and your own strengths may be just what they need. You’re also able to tap into the other person’s fan base, and that’s always a plus.

All of these ideas can help you avoid burnout, and can get you excited for songwriting again when you feel things lagging. It’s something everyone needs from time to time.

And you don’t necessarily need to try all five of these ideas. Any one of them will usually work to get you back feeling creative and stimulated again.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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