Beat writer’s block

We got an email from a 14 year old who did a good job of describing writer’s block and asked what she could do about it.

You could start by writing almost anything that comes into your head, without pausing to wonder if it’s any good. Think of it as an early draft that, with appropriate editing and rewrites, can become great.

The key here is the phrase ‘without pausing to wonder if it’s any good.’ It’s easy to start editing, criticizing and judging your work too early on. Hold off on that as long as possible, because it can kill the creative spark.

Some of the best songwriters go through many, many versions before arriving at the one we know from the radio. Of course, no one ever hears the early versions except the songwriter.

The other part to that tip is, don’t rush your songs. If it takes 19 versions to get the lyrics right, that’s OK. Don’t let your band, yourself or anyone else rush your process. Sometimes they come out fast, other times they need to brew awhile.

From my own experience, I have several times started a song and gotten stuck. So I set it aside and ended up coming back to it a month (or 6 months or a year) later and at that time I had an inspiration and finished the song.

Trying to force it to happen faster than it wants to happen is usually a disaster (faster=disaster). The inspiration comes on its own schedule.

My advice is, when the inspiration does come, hop on it, even if it means staying up all night or canceling previous plans.

If you are committed and passionate about music, you’ll get over writer’s block, not that it will ever completely go away.

One more tip to beat writer’s block: every writing coach, will tell you to ‘write what you know.’ Another way to say it is ‘write about a subject you are passionate about.’ It could be a person, animal, thing (TV show, sports team) or an idea (freedom, peace, equality, etc.)

Passion can also be love or lust. You can also hate passionately. Anything that incites deep feelings in you, positive or negative, is a good subject for a song.

Usually, when you’re passionate about something or someone, you can’t shut up about it. Use that in your song.

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