Sometimes your songwriting can just go off the tracks. You can call it writer’s block or any other name you want, but it all comes down to the same thing: Writing songs feels like a chore, you’re stuck, and your songs aren’t getting finished. There are a lot of things that could be getting in the way.
- Too many other demands on your time
- A problem song that’s going nowhere
- Starting a new song seems overwhelming
The people around you don’t take your songwriting seriously
You feel like you don’t have enough talent to do this
If any of these sound familiar (and they probably do), if you have trouble starting, working on, or finishing your songs, then try a SONG PUSH! Get your creative motor jump-started with some of these ideas!
10 SUPER SONG PUSHES TO KEEP YOU WRITING
1. FIND A PHRASE A DAY. Writing songs is something you can do ALL THE TIME. Don’t put it in a box. Don’t think of it as something apart from your everyday life. Keep your ears open all the time for lyric phrases you can use… when you’re with friends, watching TV or a movie, or sitting in a crowded place. It may not be polite to listen in to a stranger’s conversation but songwriters do it all the time! Keep phrases and ideas in a notebook or record them on your cell phone to retrieve later. You can use these phrases as song titles or lyric lines. Once you’ve got a couple lines that excite you, you’ll be eager to get going!
2. USE A “SONG STARTER”. Getting started can be the hardest part of songwriting. But you don’t have to lock yourself away for hours and break your brain! Visit the Song Starters page on this website for chords, title ideas, development paths and more Once you’ve got a few ideas you’re excited about, writing blocks will melt away!
3. LEARN A SUCCESSFUL SONG YOU LIKE. You can be working on your songwriting without actually writing a song. Learn to play and sing a hit song. If you don’t play an instrument, buy a karaoke track at iTunes or Amazon.com and sing along. Funny how this will put you back in the mood to work on your own songs. It’s a great way of easing into songwriting without having to face a problem before you’ve even gotten started.
4. GIVE YOURSELF MORE CHOICES. When I’m stuck on a song, that’s when I REALLY don’t feel like writing. Use #4 to help you find new solutions to problems and give yourself more choices. How did the hit song solve that problem? Was there something this song did that you liked? Try using that technique yourself, even if it’s only a song fragment. Record it. You can finish later. For insights, problem solvers, and exercises based on hit songs, check out my Secrets of Hit Songwriting posts at RobinFrederick.com.
5. REVISIT YOUR OLDER SONGS. Go back through your notebooks and recordings to see if there’s anything you want to work on. You won’t have to start from scratch and as soon as you hear something you like, you’ll want to get working on it.
6. BREAK OUT OF OLD HABITS. If you usually write sitting at a desk, in front of a keyboard, or flopped down on the couch with your guitar, try standing up while you write. Put a piece of paper on a table or book shelf and write a few lines. Or, if you usually write chords first, try writing a chorus without chords. Sing your lines without playing your instrument. Once you have something interesting, then pick up your guitar or sit down at your keyboard. Write a song while sitting in a noisy, public place. Use some of the things you see and hear! Break out of old physical writing habits. A small change can make a big difference.
7. WATCH A SONGWRITING VIDEO AND DO THE EXERCISES. Each of the SONGWRITING 101 and STUDY THE HITS videos on this site includes “Do It Now” exercises. Watch any video, then do the exercises. You’ll find new ideas and tools you can use. Sometimes writer’s block is simply the result of not having the right tool to solve a problem.
8. WORK ON TWO SONGS AT ONCE.If you’re stuck on a song and don’t feel like working on it, start another song. Often ideas will start coming for both songs. Just be sure to keep them organized. Use two sheets of paper, one for each song. Record your ideas separately. When one song starts to take off, stay with it. If you run out of ideas, switch to the other one. It takes the pressure off.
9. SET SMALL GOALS.Sometimes it can all seem overwhelming. Create a one-week goal. Make it something you can reasonably do (Don’t make it something like “Write a hit song”!!!) and keep it easy. The following week, make your goal a little more challenging and so on until you feel your accomplishing something each week. Better to do it in small bits and do SOMETHING, than make your goals too intimidating and accomplish NOTHING.
10. FIND A CO-WRITER. Here’s one of the best motivators I’ve EVER found! When someone else is expecting me to do something, I’m much more likely to do it! And, if you run into a roadblock, how about letting someone else help out with a few ideas for getting past it. TAXI.com’s Collaboration Corner is a great place to find serious songwriters. (You don’t have to be a TAXI member.) SongU.com puts co-writers together each month. (You do have to be a member of SongU.) Check out a co-writer’s work first before contacting. If you’re uncomfortable about sharing your original lyrics or melody, send only a verse or chorus to start and see how things go. Nervous about working with a co-writer? Who isn’t’! Here are some tips that will ease you and your co-writer through the process.
Any one of these songwriting tips can get your songs moving again. Try just one of them today and see what happens!
by Robin Frederick