20 ways to beat writer’s block

Songwriters often get stuck before writing even one note. Perhaps this applies more to beginners, perhaps not. From the email we get, it seems most people can write a song once they get started. It’s the ‘getting started’ that poses a problem.

We procrastinate. We can’t find the time. There are a million reasons why we don’t write, but somehow, once we get started, it gets easier. The momentum created by writing one verse or even one line can have the power to inspire or at least generate the rest of the song. If you have the lyrics you’re halfway there.

Here are some ways to get the momentum started. All these ideas are just exercises, so don’t feel any pressure. No one will ever hear these but you. The goal in the following exercises is to simply to break through your block to getting started.

1 set an arbitrary deadline: i.e. write a chorus in 60 minutes
2 set a small goal, i.e. write a simple blues or lullaby
3 pick one of your hobbies and write a song about it
4 write a love song to your favorite beverage
5 write a tribute song to your great grandparents
6 try writing a song in a genre you’ve never tried (polka?)
7 combine two genres
8 start a journal
9 set aside your instrument and write without it
10 try a completely new instrument
11 write a letter to the editor
12 pick a moment in your life where you made a major decision and write a song about it
13 write a new arrangement for a familiar song
14 find a writing partner
15 try another art form, painting, sculpture, dance
16 play with a child: blocks, coloring, make believe
17 start a meditation practice
18 read the back covers of your favorite books
19 scan a book of quotations
20 write a letter to the president of the United States

If you have luck with any of these, let us know.

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