May 15, 2019 by Klaus Crow
photo by Sean McGrath
Does songwriters block affect me? Yes, sometimes, but fortunately not for a long period of time. If I really get stuck it’s just for an hour or a day.
I can also have writers block over one particular song, but then I start writing on something else and the inspiration miraculously comes back.
I spent a decent amount of time on lyrics to make it work. It can take a day, a few days or a week and it is only seldom that I finish a complete song in a hour or so. When it does happen it’s mostly one of my better works.
Nice chord progressions, finger-pickings, cool licks and solos is the fun part. I can write music endlessly. Lyrics for me is the more difficult part and sometimes I can get stuck, but that is where the list comes in. This list definitely makes things go a lot smoother.
Put these 33 impeccable ways to the test yourself and experience the magic of inspiration:
1 – Ask why, how, when, where and who?
Ask yourself questions about the subject. If your song is about a suspicious old man then ask the questions: Where does he go? Where did he come from? Who is he? What is he going to do? Who are his friends? Does he have any? What are his interests? What are his dreams? Is he married? What is his history? Why does he act so strange? Ask as many questions as possible to come up with ideas.
2 – Put on some music.
Listen to music that fits the mood of the song you are about to write. It gets you into the vibe.
3 – Don’t try to be a perfectionist.
Just write your story, lower your standards and adjust it later if you need to.
Knowing that you can always alter it afterwards will make you write more fluidly.
4 – Read.
Read books, blogs or magazines on the subject or topic you want to write about.
Expand your horizon.
5 – Take a cup of coffee or nice cappuccino.
Caffeine will wake you up and increases mental faculty.
6 – Establish a routine.
Write on a weekly or daily basis. Write consistently. With everything in life to get good at something you need to do it often. Practice makes perfect.
7 – Change your song structure.
Be controversial. Instead of writing a intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus, try to do something like chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus or two long verses with a hidden chorus and a solo. Break out of your usual pattern.
8 – Get rid of distractions.
Find a quiet place where you can concentrate and be creative.
Turn off all your electronic devices ( Internet, mobile phone, Radio, TV, Telephone, etc )
9 – Set a deadline.
Push yourself to the limit in a healthy way. Tell yourself you have one hour to write lyrics and one hour to write the melody. This way you won’t lose yourself in endless details or worrying about grammar.
10 – Get some fresh air.
Take a break for a while. Go outside and walk to the park or to the beach to bring back inspiration. It really helps.
11 – Listen.
Listen to people and inspiring stories. Have a conversation with friends, family or strangers. See what you can get out of it.
12 – Let go.
If you have a hard time finishing your song, put it away for a while and write something else. Create something totally different. This will help.
13 – Keep a notebook with you.
Keep a notebook with you everywhere you go and be aware that you have it with you. Your mind will overload with ideas. Life is full of stories everywhere you look around. Write down everything you can come up with. Even the silliest things.
14 – Eat or drink healthy.
Eat an apple, a banana or drink a glass of water to fresh up. Healthy foods will get you back in the saddle.
15 – Experiment.
Write about something you would never write about. Write in a different style then you would normally do. Write an instrumental piece, a song without a chorus, a really short or long song. Be bold.
16 – Work out.
Working out increases blood circulation which results in good focus and positivity to get you going at the writers desk.
17 – Take a title.
Take a movie or a book title for your song and create your own story with it.
18 – Change your surroundings.
Go somewhere else. Change rooms, write in your backyard, go to a nice park or sit down on a bench in the middle of the city. Go where people go and observe to fuel your inspiration.
19 – Flexibility.
Don’t restrict yourself to a certain subject. If your song turns out to go somewhere you did not expect it to go, let it be. Let the song write itself. Be flexible.
20 – Write from a different perspective or angle.
You can write a verse from one persons perspective and then the second verse from another persons perspective. This can make your song turn out pretty interesting.
21 – Talk.
Chat with people about the topic or subject of your song. You might get inspiration from their point of view.
22 – Change instruments.
Try to write with a bass guitar or a piano for a change. Just hit some keys. Try to create a melody by playing around with the notes.
23 – Change the way you write.
Write lyrics first, then melody and then a chord progression or the other way around. Write with pen and paper if you normally would write behind the laptop. Change your habit.
24 – Meditate.
Meditation will take your mind off the frustration that comes from writers block. Trying to empty your mind and focus on your breathing will automatically leave you with inspiration.
25 – Watch a movie.
A movie can generate some great ideas. Take part of the story line, rip it apart, turn it around and create your own.
26 – Prepare yourself.
Create a list of topics and subjects in advance. Get your pen and paper or laptop ready. Schedule time to write in private without anyone distracting you.
27 – Short Pauses.
Pause in between for about 2 or 5 minutes when you feel you get stuck. Walk around the room, look out the window, do something else, find quick inspiration and return to your writing.
28 – Don’t limit yourself.
Don’t try to write how you think you should write. Don’t limit yourself to boundaries. Be provocative, be intimate, be vulnerable, be cool, be wise, be smart, be fun, be dark, be thoughtful, be truthful, be outrages.
29 – Create your own style.
You can learn from other writers but you don’t have to write like them. There are a million different writers out there all having success with their own lyrics, own melodies and own style. Create something new, something you.
30 – Write less.
You don’t have to write a lot of lyrics to make a point. Write what you feel is necessary. Sometimes less is more.
31 – Don’t procrastinate.
Just sit down and write. Don’t think about what you want or what you don’t want. Don’t make excuses telling yourself other things are more important. There are always things more important, but that won’t stop you from surfing the Internet or watching TV either, so get that pen and paper and start being creative.
32 – Library.
Go to the library to find a million topics and subjects to write about.
33 – Keep focused.
Don’t try to edit too much or do not edit at all while you are writing. You will lose focus this way.
Avoid any temptations or distractions.
34 – Play songs.
Play someone else’s songs to get into the vibe and then turn to your own song.
35 – Start somewhere.
Start in the middle of a story, if you don’t know how to begin. Just start wherever and about whatever you feel like. Just write and the story will develop itself.
36 – Personal.
Write about your own life or somebody you know. How do you feel? What do you like? What don’t you like? What are you upset, happy or worried about? What is happening in your life? What does it feel like to be you?
“Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” – John Lennon
Great post, interesting, have passed it over to my son who is guitar mad.
Klaus Crow says
Thanks for passing it on.
I hope your son will get something out of it.
Klaus Crow says
I saw the article on my post on your website.
It looks awesome! :-)
I hope your readers like it.
Thanks a lot!
Thanks a lot, these are great tips
technically there are 36 tips, you got to 21 and started at 19 again :P
but like I said, fantastic tips and they’ve helped me no end, thanks
Klaus Crow says
Thanks for mentioning. I’ve updated the post and the title.
you know you could have simplified this article down into two words right? i’ll let you figure it out… but i will give you a hint… the second word is “weed”.
Great article. Thanks for the tips!
@Justin – LOL!!!
Some good tips on this page. I find sometimes just playing for a prolonged amount of time, can lead to new good material…as usually you get to that breaking point where you have exhausted your ideas and must explore new avenues.
Paula Marchesini says
Klaus, thank you so much for this great post! Just a month ago I overcame a major block that lasted almost five years. All of a sudden I began writing like crazy. I just found your post, and it’s impressive how you managed to put into words many of the strategies that I unconsciously created to overcome my block. I’ll keep these tips close by so as to never have such a ridiculously long block again. Also, is there a way we can listen to some of your songs? Thanks.
If you need to read this “guide”, you aren’t going to write a good song. If it doesn’t pour out of you it probably isn’t worth hearing.
Klaus Crow says
That isn’t really true. There are about a million songs written in the world that didn’t quite pour out straight away, but are brilliant songs anyway, including songs from great artists such as U2 and the Eagles.
Good songwriters can also suffer from songwriters block (e.g: Paul Simon has in the past), so there is no harm in reading some tips to fuel people’s inspiration.
But I do agree that some of the greates songs on earth did pour out right away.
hey man this is an awesome website. I am 14 and ixwrite songs secretly without my parents knowing. I have written 32 songs and got writers block for 3 weeks!! Thats a while! And now I’m back writing everyday.
Klaus Crow says
Good for you. Keep going, improving and enjoying what you do.
Follow your heart!
Overcome Musical Writer's Block says
Tons of great songwriting suggestions here! Overall, I’d say the key to coming up with songwriting ideas on a consistent basis is developing a strategy or strategies that will get consistent results. This way, you glue together all the smaller tactics such as the ones you mentioned here into a big overarching plan!
Your tips is really great. Put on some music and read books, blogs or magazines on the subject or topic you want to write about is really good advice.