By Uche Ibe
What if I told you that combating writer’s block is easy? That all you need to do is to follow the right steps and advice, and you’ll be able to come up with awesome lyrics in no time, even if you’re stuck at the beginning?
Solutions never need to cost an arm and leg or stress you out too much, and there’s no need to search for a secret ingredient to help you get rid of writer’s block, either.
In this article, I’ve compiled all the best tips and techniques to combat writer’s block and start being a productive songwriter. It just takes a bit of focus and time spent hitting the pavement. All you need to do now is read on.
What are the causes of writer’s block?
Before we take a look at some ways to help you get rid of writer’s block, it’s important to understand the most common causes.
- Fear. This is usually the culprit. Songwriters worry and fear how people will judge their writing. As a songwriter, you might be scared of failure. The best way to overcome this is simply by doing the thing you’re afraid of. Take criticism as a way to improve, and don’t feel bad about it.
- Striving for perfection. Most writers are looking for the perfect timing, place, and setup before they can put pen to paper. This results in procrastination, and nothing ever gets done. Perfection almost never happens in the first go. Take comfort in knowing your drafts are subject to change.
10 Ways to Combat Writer’s Block
1. Take a Break
While this might sound weird, especially if you’re rushing to meet a deadline, taking a break is the best thing you can do for your busy mind. The truth is that simply staring at your screen or notepad for hours will not make words magically appear on them. What you should do is give your brain a chance to relax and come back refreshed.
The key here is to do something that doesn’t involve much brain activity. Take a walk, go for a run, watch a TV show, or make yourself a cup of coffee. At the end of the activity, your brain is relaxed, and you’re ready to dive in and start writing again.
2. Change Your Environment
You’ll be amazed at what a simple change of location can do for you. If you’re someone who enjoys writing in your studio or living room, why not go outside and see what happens? You can also write at your local library, a park, a coffee shop down the road, or even a college campus.
Break your brain’s normal pattern. This will help you relax more and improve your creativity.
Getting started on your songwriting is one of the hardest hurdles to jump over. In the video below, courtesy of Soundfly’s The New Songwriter’s Workshop course, Oli Rockberger explains how to customize the environment around you for better momentum during your freewriting phase.
3. Figure Out Your Peak Writing Time
When do you do your best writing? For many people, the early morning hours help since everyone else is still asleep, or the kids are out of the house and distractions are low. For others, it can be midday, in the early evening, late at night, etc. It’s a personal thing, and you need to figure out what works best for you.
One simple way to do this is to try writing at various hours throughout the day, gauge your focus and energy levels, and compare what you wrote. If you find that you struggle to write in the morning, then it’s probably best to make time for writing at night.
4. Get Moving
Research shows that moving around (with activities like walking and running) helps to preserve your memory, because it gets your blood flowing, bringing oxygen to your brain.
The aim here is to get your heart rate up and pumping blood to your brain. Once you’ve cooled down and showered, you’ll be surprised at the impact it has on your writing.
So, the next time you’re faced with writer’s block, remember that indulging in exercise has a double advantage.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “20 Creative Songwriting and Composing Prompts Courtesy of Every Song Ever“
5. Eliminate or Reduce All Forms of Distraction
This is one mistake that a lot of people (including myself) make. Sometimes, when struggling with writer’s block, I find myself picking up my phone and scrolling through Facebook or Twitter. Before I know it, I’m sucked deep into a social-media rabbit hole, and I’ve totally forgotten what I was supposed to do!
When you write, you need to make sure that you eliminate all forms of distraction. By doing so, you increase your power of focus and you’ll find that your writing time is more effective.
One way you can do this is by using the Pomodoro Technique. This simply means writing in strict blocks of time. For example, you might decide to only write for 25 minutes and then take a break for five minutes.
Within this 25-minute time frame, all you do is focus and write, saving your snack craving or social media addiction for break time. To use that time a bit more wisely than surfing your socials, here are a few websites that will help increase your brain activity rather than diminish it.
+ Learn more on Soundfly: Do more with less. Record pro-quality demos and songs from your bedroom studio with our free home-recording course, Demo Recording 101!
6. Practice Freewriting
Freewriting is picking something entirely different to write about. Say, for example, you’re struggling to come up with the second verse of a song. Simply forget about the song and write about something else. What happens is that your brain starts to focus on other things, which eases stress and pressure.
Instead of writing something that’s not up to your usual standards because you want to push through, shift gears and come back to your piece later.
This method helps develop your creative writing skills similarly to stream-of-consciousness writing by allowing your brain to tap into the words and images stuck deep in your head and bring them out. The mind can be a powerful thing.
7. Always Carry Something to Record Your Thoughts
As a songwriter, you know that inspiration comes at the least-expected moments. At times like these, make sure you have something to write down or record your ideas. A small notebook or pocket recorder will do just fine.
When you find yourself scrambling for writing ideas, refer back to your notes or recordings and come up with something new.
8. Use Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is taking an subject and writing down as much information as you can about it. The process helps you to see all parts of an idea before you start writing it out lyrically. I use mind mapping myself, and it’s something I believe everyone should try out at least once.
By mind mapping your ideas before you start writing, you can effectively plan out the song structure and how it will flow from one verse to another.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Fear of Success is Real. Here’s How I Found Out I Had It.”
9. Schedule a Time Limit and Stick to It
If you’re serious about writing, then one thing you can do is to pick a time (your peak writing time) and simply write. Instead of giving yourself the entire day to write, restrict yourself to, say, two or three hours. This technique forces your brain to focus solely on the writing task at hand.
Most people think they can get away with writing whenever they choose. But as soon as something comes up, it becomes an obstacle. Next thing you know, 20 minutes of your writing time has elapsed, and you’ve procrastinated.
Limit the amount of time you have to write, avoid distractions, and make sure you just write.
10. Use a Different Writing Tool
If you’re used to writing on your laptop, why not go the old-fashioned route and grab a pen and paper? Or switch from Microsoft Word to a Google Doc? Or change the font you normally use when writing? There are even tons of apps out there, designed primarily to help poets write, that can inspire you.
The trick is to switch your writing pattern and give your brain a chance to think. Although it might sound silly, subtle changes like this can make your writing interesting again and eliminate some of the contexts preventing your brain from open exploration.
Most times, writer’s block occurs as a result of the enormous pressure we put on ourselves to deliver. While this might be a good thing sometimes, in the end, you always find yourself stressed and frustrated. The best thing you can do is take away the pressure and simply do what you enjoy doing.
Uche Ibe is a passionate singer and blogger as We Love Singing. He enjoys teaching people how to sing and helping them become better singers. You can connect with him by visiting his blog or sending him an email.