Overcoming Writer's Block
As writers, there are times when our creative juices are flowing, we love the ideas we come up with, and we actually turn our lyrical fantasy from a planted seed of an idea into a completed project. We also know that such a smooth process is a rare one, and there are many times when our creative process seems to be obstructed by every external distraction or negative thought imaginable. This folks, is what we know as writer’s block.
All creators have writer’s block in some form, some lasting a few weeks, some for years. Writer’s block is not an indication that you have suddenly lost your capabilities overnight, or that you’ll never get back into your creativity the same way as you once were. Oftentimes, writer’s block is very much a mind game. There are many different reasons you can feel stuck in an uncreative rut, and I’d like to use a personal experience to explain how it usually happens for me.
What Kind of Writer are you?
I’ll answer this question myself for the sake of example, but if you’re reading this, try to keep your answer in mind as we go through.
I know for myself, I write from a very emotional, and somewhat dark place. That doesn’t mean my songs can’t be happy, but I definitely find that my creative outlet is a coping mechanism for the harder things. That’s why, sometimes, when things are going really well for me, I sometimes don’t know how to write. I’m unsure how to draw positives from an already positive situation or hope from something I feel content in. Back in 2020, when the world was truly almost ending, I did something that has sparked songwriters to write since the beginning of time: I fell for someone.
I didn’t have an urge to write about how great this person was, or how I felt about them. The feelings were good, and I wanted to just be in the moment and not analyze all of the moments and feelings and break it down into song. I’d sit in front of my computer or a notebook and try to urge myself to write about anything, but in all honesty, I had this feeling like the timing wasn’t right. I was actually pretty hard on myself about having this bout of writer’s block, reprimanding myself for not knowing how to put new feelings on paper. This leads us to tip number 1.
Tip #1: Stop Judging Yourself
Let’s put it this way – did me telling myself that I wasn’t a good enough writer or musician enable me in any way to make better music at that time? The answer is a resounding no.
When I think about artists that I truly love and admire, like Amy Winehouse, Adele, or Birdy, and the trajectory of the songs on their respective albums, these writers are telling a story of what was, even when the writing is in the present. As writers, and as people, we need to be able to experience things in order to write about them. We need to know how something really makes us feel in order for us to write honestly; We need to feel confident or not confident about our emotions, and we have to have that will to write about it.
If you’re stuck creatively, the last thing your creative mind needs is for you to feed negativity and insults to it. Just like an artist shouldn’t snap and break their brush and then try to start painting with the broken wood, we do not need to shatter our minds in order to convince ourselves to use it better.
What we do need, however, is the time to process what we’re experiencing, and for that inspiration of writing to actually to come to us.
Tip #2: Don't Force It
There are many ways you can try to jolt your mind into action. Watching something inspiring, sitting alone in the nature, reigniting old feelings from something you felt 4 years ago, and sometimes, something beautiful follows suit.
There are the other times though, where none of your usual methods seem to work. You’re trying to inspire yourself so much, that the feeling is forced, and it’s sent you further back than you were before. Frustrating, right? But, it’s all part of the process. Nothing great was built in a day.
Instead of forcing inspiration on yourself, give yourself time. It’s not the ideal answer you want to hear in the moment, but believe that something amazing is brewing while you take the much needed time.