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7 Ways to Solve Songwriter’s Block

Solving songwriter's block... it's not enough to wait it out or keep making excuses. Be proactive and get back to writing with 7 solutions to fix it....
Solving Songwriter's Block

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What To Do When You Think You’re Suffering From Songwriter’s Block

You sit down for a songwriting session and nothing comes except for the sounds of crumpled pages and broken dreams as you slouch over your guitar in despair. Your piano keys are all black today. Everything you play sounds out of tune… everything you say comes out wrong.

It’s not songwriter’s block, that’s just an excuse that masks the real problem… ready to fix it?

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Why the false label “songwriter’s block” makes your problem harder to fix
  • The single most common cause of songwriting problems
  • 7 strategies you can use to kickstart your songwriting today

Songwriter’s Block Isn’t Real

I don’t believe in songwriter’s block. The label “songwriting block” creates the illusion that you have some disease that can be cured with a pill or some magic songwriting secret. The reality is sometimes songwriting is hard!

As with any creative act, songwriting isn’t always predictable or easily controlled. You can have an off day or week, you can find sudden inspiration and create a song quickly. You can’t predict the magic.

The Most Common Cause of Songwriting Problems Is…

Unrealistic expectations! 

You create a problem for yourself when you unrealisticly expect:

  • Instant songs
  • Awesome songs every time
  • That songwriting should never be a struggle
  • That you can finish songs faster than you actually can….

You’ve probably already read several articles about songwriter’s block and the same solutions in each article…

Common Solutions You’ve Already Heard About:

  • Write differently
  • Change your input
  • Change your songwriting workflow
  • Change your environment
  • Write using a different (or no) instrument
  • Listen to songs you love
  • Stop trying and come back another day
  • Go for a walk or a drive
  • Work on another song
  • Start another song
  • Play some of your finished songs
  • Learn a new song by another writer
  • Read poetry / song lyrics

Then you googled more songwriting tips trying to find a new solution….

If these were working you likely wouldn’t be reading this article. So let’s get to the good stuff!

Take responsibility for your music, it doesn't happen by accident, songwriting meme, songwriting advice that makes sense

7 Ways To Get You Writing Today…

1. Write Consistently

Showing up and working regularly is one of the best ways to learn to write on demand. Every professional songwriter I’ve interviewed went through a period of writing everyday while they were learning the craft of songwriting.

  • Schedule time (as many days a week as possible) and spend some time writing, even when you don’t want to. Usually a few small victories will get you excited and into a writing flow.
  • Schedule your sessions, write down start and end times.
  • Short sessions are better than no sessions, write something today!
  • Write even if you don’t feel like it
  • Focus on the process not the product (consistent writing sessions, instead of “finishing a song a week”)

Click and enter your name and email to learn how to create a daily songwriting habit.

2. Start Writing From the Big Picture

Begin your work thinking and writing from the big picture. This might mean writing from a title, focusing on an emotion or the emotional journey, using visuals for inspiration. 

Back away from writing and outline your song, starting with the big picture of the song so you don’t get lost in the details struggling with every line of lyrics.

Here is a framework for figuring out the big picture in a song you’re writing, or to fix a song you’re still struggling with:

3. Give Yourself Permission To Write Bad Songs

Stick with me… you can write down things that aren’t great (yet) and improve them. An awesome idea will often follow some really bad ones. If you stop your train of thought before you get to the great ideas, you’ll miss them!

Finish a draft then revise and improve it. Don’t try to go from a blank page to a finished draft. You’re tripping because you’re trying to skip steps. Most of the stories of instant songs leave out an important detail… they were professional songwriters with several years of songwriting experience and often more than a hundred finished songs already written.

Here’s a dirty little secret most people won’t tell you… every songwriter has many songs you’ll never hear because those songs are terrible or were so bad they didn’t even finish them.

If professionals can write bad songs, so can you!

The solution is to stop editing while you write. Instead try brainstorming ideas and judging them later when you’re in the editing phase. Check out this video tutorial on brainstorming to learn how to create more songwriting ideas than you can use….

Here’s a video lesson explaining 

Brainstorming: How To Create More Songwriting Ideas Than You Need

4. Write Chaotically Instead Of Linearly

Creativity is rarely linear, it’s usually more random or chaotic… so write that way.

Don’t try to start at the first line and write to the end of the song. For example, write the chorus first, building it from the title.

Then brainstorm ideas, pick the best, put them in the song section where they fit the best. Then start writing lyrics for each section, one at a time.

5. Create a Hook Book

Keep a list of titles and songwriting ideas, so you are always ready to write.

Create a section of your songwriting book, a folder of pages, separate google documents.

Brainstorm new titles every week as an exercise.

I totally put my songwriting ideas in here somewhere! Cat sitting in a garden

6. Write One Thing at a Time

I find that I usually write stronger songs when I focus on one musical element at a time.

It doesn’t always happen this way, but for my usual workflow:

I usually start with the lyrics and complete at least one draft before moving on to the chord progression. Once the lyrics and chord progression are finished, I sing and improvise with both to write the melody. The arrangement usually comes last.

This is the method I teach in the Ultimate Songwriting Jumpstart, an online songwriting course. I also teach you how to take the same building blocks and customize it to fit your songwriting strengths and your personality.

7. Write About Your Songwriting

Take a brief break from songwriting but instead of walking away, write about your songwriting instead. Here are a few writing prompts:

8. BONUS, Develop a Songwriting Practice Routine

Instead of sitting down cold and trying to write songs… create a songwriting routine for yourself. Successful vocalists and instrumentalists do warm up exercises, scales, and technique exercises to improve their musical skills. They work on more than repertoire… why would songwriting be different?

Some Elements in a Songwriting Routine:

  • Warm ups
  • Exercises
  • Analyze songs you love
  • Continue & Finish Partial Songs
  • Write/Start new songs

Summary

Write differently… repeating what isn’t working by definition won’t work.

8 Ways To Start Writing Today:

1. Write Consistently

2. Start Writing From the Big Picture

3. You’re Allowed To Write Bad Songs

4. Write Chaotically, Not Linearly

5. Create a Hook Book

6. Write One Thing at a Time

7. Write About Your Songwriting

8. Develop a Songwriting Practice Routine

Leave a comment to help other songwriters…

How do you SOLVE songwriting blocks?

What techniques work to unstick your songwriting blocks?

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Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff

Trevor Dimoff has taught, played and written music professionally for the last 25+ years.

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