overcome songwriters block

Songwriters Block

Six Ways to Unblock Your Songwriters’ Block

The dreaded blank piece of paper. It stares at you. Haunting you. Mocking you. It can invoke a feeling of sheer terror in you, it’s opponent, the singer-songwriter. Whether it’s a fresh sheet of college-ruled in your trusty journal or that obnoxious flashing cursor floating in a sea of white on your computer screen, a blank page can make you want to pull your hair out and drive you to drink. But before you do anything drastic, try one of these six tricks for unblocking your songwriters’ block.

1. Turn It Up

As simple as it sounds, listening to music is one of the best ways to remind yourself of why you got into songwriting in the first place. Blast your favorite band on your surround sound or crank up the old record player and play those songs that made you fall in love with music. Or better yet, get out and go see some live music. Stop by a Blues club or pop in to see a new band at your favorite bar. And if all else fails, drop into the local karaoke joint. You never know what inspiration may come from listening to drunken renditions of “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

2. Take A Walk Down Memory Lane

The best songs are written from experience, but when you’re in a rut, you may think your experience well has run dry. Not true. Take some time to reflect on your past experiences and fond memories. Flip back through an old journal, a photo album or even those cringe-worthy Facebook pictures from 2008. Reflect on what you were feeling at that time, what you learned from those experiences, how you’ve changed and what you would tell yourself now if you could go back in time. You can learn a lot about yourself from this little exercise, and you may just find the lyrics to your next hit single.

3. Let It Flow, Let It Flow

When your brain gets foggy and that blank sheet of paper is taunting you, try filling it with whatever words come to mind. They don’t have to make sense or form any sort of coherent sentence; just get them out. This will accomplish two things: One, it will fill up that cruel blank page, and two, it will clear some of that clutter out of your brain. Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist’s Way, recommends filling up three sheets of paper with stream of consciousness writing. Write fast and don’t edit. You don’t even have to dot your I’s and cross your t’s. When we take the pressure off of ourselves to write, often the words come flowing out. After you finish, you may not have a Grammy-winner in front of you, but you will, hopefully, have a clearer mind and be ready for a fresh sheet of paper.

4. A Change Of Scenery

Get out of the house or the studio or wherever you’ve been unsuccessfully trying to craft your masterpiece and find a new location. Take a walk around the park and observe the people around you – it’s not eavesdropping – it’s research. Visit a friend, see a movie or take a cooking class. If you can swing it, take a short trip. Some of the best songs are written on a good old-fashioned road trip. Immerse yourself in a different setting and let the words simply come to you.

5. Write a Terrible (Sucky) First Draft

Great writers don’t write, they re-write. So allow yourself to get the first draft down, no matter how bad you think it is. The point is, don’t think. Turn off your editor and just write. Take chances. Don’t worry if it’s “bad” or not up to your standards. When you give yourself permission to stink, it takes a lot of the pressure off and frees you up to be your true creative self. You can always go back later and fine-tune your work, but you did the hardest part – filling up the blank page. One of the best books about writing in general and writing a &*^%! first draft is Anne LaMott’s classic Bird by Bird. If you haven’t read it, we highly recommend!

6. Don’t Put Boundaries on Yourself (Get Out of Your Own Way)

Many times, songwriters label themselves as one type of writer. It’s easy to see why – the second you tell someone you’re a songwriter, they will inevitably ask, “What kind of songs do you write?” It may be that you’re more comfortable with one style of writing, so you gravitate toward that style. When you box yourself in, you limit your creativity and writing possibilities. Being so focused on one genre or style can also cause you unnecessary stress by making you feel that if your lyrics – no matter how good they may be – don’t fit into your preferred genre, then they’re garbage. Try letting your lyrics, hook or idea dictate the style of the song and not the other way around. If the Beastie Boys can jump from punk to hip-hop and Katy Perry can make the leap from a Christian music to mainstream pop, then maybe your country lyrics would fit better in an R&B format. Plus, it’s a great exercise to.

After the Fog Has Lifted

After you’ve cleared your head and fine-tuned your masterpiece, it’s time to make your voice heard. Enter your song in a songwriting contest like Music City SongStar. This songwriting competition is open to songwriters worldwide, and singer songwriters of all skill levels in all genres of music are encouraged to submit their lyrics. The great thing about this contest is that each submission receives a thorough song evaluation, with helpful and constructive feedback and a chance to win amazing prizes and cash! Learn more at Music City SongStar.

Source: The Guardian, Changing track: when musicians swap genre

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About us: Foxhedge Music is a management company and recording studio located in historic Leipers Fork. Our mission is to support and encourage songwriters. We believe they are the back-beat of Music City, while we continue to invest our time and resources in the Music City community. Through the Music City SongStar Songwriting Contest, we want to give songwriters a chance to have their music heard. We’re believers in creativity, chasing dreams and getting the chance to pursue your passion.

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