Writing a little everyday. Songwriting has much to do with momentum and confidence. And we feel more confident when we do something everyday. We get into a creative groove. I’ve often noticed that after I return from a vacation and sit down to write is when I struggle the most. I have to get back into that groove.
American poet William Stafford gives this advice to writers who suffer from Writer’s Block: “There is no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” Now this sounds really bad at first but it’s very true. Writer’s block is really that inner critic that says to us “This is junk” “I can’t write today, I’m not inspired” or “Nothing I write is interesting today”. When we set the bar too high it is impossible to be creative. We must learn to turn off that inner critic and give ourselves room to explore.
Even if you can’t sit down everyday to write, you can always be on the look out for ideas. Carry around a small pocket-sized notebook or PDA device that you can jot down bits of conversation you hear that might be developed into a song. Write down that line from a movie you are watching, or that book you’re reading. By always collecting ideas you keep your mind in a writing groove and will have lots of ideas to pull from when you do sit down to write.
Physical activity. This is so important! If you get stuck on a line or melody, take a break and go for a walk around the block. It has been proven in many studies that the human mind not only works better while our bodies are moving, but we learn and retain knowledge better as well. I’ve known many writers that pace the floor while they write. The point is if we sit too long, we won’t be creative.
Another trick I use is to skip around to different sections of a song. Ever find yourself writing a verse to a song and getting stuck on that one line? Try skipping ahead and writing the chorus first and then comeback to that line that gave you fits in the first verse. There are no rules for what order things have to be written. By writing another part of the song you give your subconscious a chance to work on the problem area while you work on another part of the song.
Try this writing exercise. Set a goal of finishing 1 song in 1 hour. No matter what!!!! This does wonders for getting you back in the groove of writing. You don’t have time to over-think or second-guess everything that comes out. You shouldn’t be concerned with the quality, though often you will be surprised with the results! The objective here is to put down whatever comes to mind and get back in the groove of writing. Remember, it’s an exercise.
Try working on more than one song at a time. Often if I get stuck working on a song, I put it down and work on another song. Then when I come back to the first song, I have a new perspective as my sub-conscious mind had time to work on it!
Pretend you are not writing for an audience or potential publisher, but to someone close – a mother, wife, or brother. This can often create a whole new path for your song to take.