Break Through Writer’s Block…aka Unclog Creative Constipation (and other fun alliterations)
Sorry for the visual… but haven’t we all been there. You sit there… obsess about it… wait patiently… but nothing comes out. It’s torture… actually to the point that it’s a little painful. Writer's block is the worst! What did you think we were talking about? Where do we start? We stare at the sky, or the walls, and wait for divine intervention to strike and gift us that undeniable lyric, memorable melody, or clever concept. What’s worse than not catching it when it comes, is obsessing about it. It just sinks you deeper into the pit of drab ideas. Fear not!!! Here are 5 cool ways to unstick the stuck, break through the block, and de-dull the lull.
By: Justin Gray Founder/Chairman MDIIO 1. Make Your Rules - Manifesting a song out of thin air is a ridiculous expectation for anyone. Great sessions often start with conversation and ideation. Sitting down and starting cold is unrealistic, even for the most seasoned and professional songwriters. Create the rules for your song, even before you sing a single melody. What’s the tone? What is the story? Once you build that box, whatever doesn’t fit, doesn’t get put in the box. There is way more creativity in adhering to a rigid set of creative rules. 2. Break Your Rules - Forget point #1…sort of. Once you have your set of ideas, you can veer off the path and re-calibrate as you go. But there’s nothing to re-calibrate if there was nothing in the first place. That’s why first #1, then #2. Imagine building a house without a blueprint. Impossible. But imagine creating the blueprint…reviewing it, and then deciding the bathroom should be on the other side of the house. Metaphorically, it’s the same concept. Let’s figure out the plans, and then maneuver around them. And yes…sometimes it means adding the Helipad on the roof. 3. Don’t Think - Seriously. Don’t think. Once you have your rules set…just go for it. Write everything, record as many voice notes as you need. Who cares if it’s silly or dumb sounding. Especially if you are collaborating with someone, maybe you say something that triggers that lyrical tennis match. Just the wordplay association can open up a lateral way of approaching a melody or lyric. Seriously…put it out there and "Dare To Suck." Famously, "Yesterday" by the Beatles was originally written using the words "Scrambled Eggs" just to identify the chord changes and melodic structure. 4. Build a Better Mousetrap - Instead of trying to re-invent creativity every time you sit down to write, try using creative templates. So what if that chord change was something else? That’s ok. There are only 12 notes and 26 letters to choose from. Every songwriter in the history of music has had the same toolset. You don’t need to beat yourself up trying to unlock the magic. It will come soon enough. And by writing as much as possible, you will write right past the mundane re-hashed ideas, forcing the new stuff hidden away in the back to bubble to the top. There is also something to be said about the habits of a typical music listener. In pop music, familiarity is your friend. But not too similar…that’s plagiarism :) 5. Quit - Not forever…just for now. Too many times inspiration strikes when you literally least expect it. Turning off the intensity of creative thought can seriously open your channels to receiving what you’ve been chasing. Countless times, me or my collaborators have come back from the bathroom, walked into the studio and said "what about something like this?" How many times do you forget a word or turn of phrase, only to have it hit you like a eureka moment 2 hours later? It’s because you’re not thinking about it…This brings us right back to point #3. Don't think! Catch you next week. Until then, keep writing those hits!