View Full Version : Writer's Block

02-17-2009, 05:31 AM
I've hit a snag. I want to write another song with lyrics, wrapping up a sort of abstract idea I've been toying with in my last two songs, but I can't seem to get anywhere.

I've started and scrapped five or six entire versions of songs, and I'm just getting frustrated. Every time I try and lay down an idea, it ends up not panning out, and I feel like I'm running a little dry.

What do you do when your music-writing process isn't cooperating with you?

Please don't tell me that you're all people who only ever write while you're inspired. It's how I generally write, and I feel it's an integral part of making music that you personally feel satisfied by, but that doesn't mean that during the process of recording you won't hit an annoying snag and have to surmount it.

So, what do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?

02-17-2009, 05:50 AM
When I have an idea, I write lyrics for a song. I rarely have serious problems with coming up with lyrics. My problems start when I'm looking at the lyrics some hours/days later and realise that they are totally shitty. Somehow I don't realise that while I write them.

02-17-2009, 06:00 AM
funny you say this, we've been working on a song which for me has a truly great chorus, we started to lay it down and realised the verse was sooooo shit in comparison to the chorus :(

6mths later and we still attempt to write a verse for it although we have written and recorded 2 others since then lol :)

frustration causes writers block, you need time away from it, a day, a week, even 2 weeks away from writing material can really freshen up the mind!

hope ive been some help :)

keep rocking!

02-17-2009, 07:27 AM
When I hit a wall with music in general, not just writing, like when I have one of those days where no matter what, everything I do is just shit? or when I can't write at all, and my improv sucks and I feel totally worthless.

Just listen to some music you wouldn't normally listen to, something totally out of left field. Try to appreciate it, if it's something you wouldn't normally enjoy, and I often find something I like within the music, even if in general it sucks. I don't really know why, but it seems to help get me past the musical walls.

I find a two day break from playing music will bring me back completely fresh too. Like when you just burn out on a week of 4 to 5 hour practice sessions everyday, leave it a couple days, and you come back fresh.

Generally though, I never sit down and think "I'm going to write a song now". Songs just seem to arrive at my fingers. I'll play one thing, and just hear the rest of it in my head, and then try to figure out how to play what I hear in my head. But I'm not saying that happens all the time, and the good ones are few and far between.

02-17-2009, 09:21 AM
I don't write lyrics when I have writers block. I don't like forcing it. I'm never satisfied with the results if I do that.

I just let it ride itself out.

An east way to care it is just listen to music.

And read.

And just write shit down until you find something you like.

02-17-2009, 11:31 AM
There are songs I've started on that years later, I still haven't finished. Don't throw those 5 or 6 versions away, just keep them and come back to them later with a clear head. Put them away and try something new.
I don't tend to attempt song writing as much as I used to, but I find that if I get stuck when playing drums, playing something completely different then coming back to what I kept fucking up on really helps.

02-17-2009, 12:11 PM
I turn away from the paper, from the computer, from my instrument, from whatever I'm sitting at to write & take a moment for myself. I'll even lay down flat on my back in bed if I have to. I close my eyes, play the melody inside my head & see what fits as the next note/word. what mrconeman said is also a good word of advice. just like when you try to get to sleep & you just can't, you try all kinds of solutions from which you know they worked at some point. you just try to figure out which one's best in the moment.

I haven't written that much music/poetry, though. not since I was 19, or so.

02-17-2009, 05:03 PM
Okay, I've had this problem many times and here's what you do:

1. Finish writing the lyrics. Make stuff rhyme, make sure the rhythm's right, just finish the song.

2. Memorize those lyrics. Play the song over and over again.

3. Keep playing the song occasionally from time to time.

4. Change the lyrics when something good pops into your head.

Believe it or not, this is how I usually write my songs.

02-17-2009, 06:54 PM
Mary Shelley was a victim of writer's block all through those weeks when Byron, Shelley & co. would wake up and ask her over breakfast whether she had thought up a story. Only to be piteously answered in a bashful negative.

Then, one night, she saw it all, as in a dream, or rather, a nightmare. She saw the malignant creature peering with yellow, rheumy eyes at his creator.

And then, she set to writing it.
Ha, nice. I, too, seem to come up with my best work right out of a writer's block.

Now, I don't know if what I'm in can be considered writer's block, since it's been going on so long, but I've been struggling with lyrics since the end of 2006. The year I started writing, I completed 25 songs. Year two: 26; year three: 31; year four: like, 9; year five: maybe 2. Heh, this year, I've written one song, and the sad part is the year starts in July, not January. Anyway, completely irrelevant to the topic.

Taking a step away from it never worked for me, nor has listening to something else (that usually makes me think about how awesome whatever the song is compared to my shitty music). Homer's process is the closest to what gets me through.But, ultimately, I think my downfall is lack of experiences/excitement in my life.

The thing that has worked the best for me is finding a few lists of cliches and sayings, and perusing through them. Either you'll want to use some of them, or they will spark a pretty interesting train of thought (for those who care, this is where the title "Big as Life" came from).

02-18-2009, 03:39 AM
The thing that has worked the best for me is finding a few lists of cliches and sayings, and perusing through them. Either you'll want to use some of them, or they will spark a pretty interesting train of thought (for those who care, this is where the title "Big as Life" came from).

So you're saying that you listened to the Backstreet Boys song "Larger than Life" a lot back then?

I kid.

My method of writing is pretty similar to Randy and Homer's. I usually first think of a theme, and then I look for phrases with a connection to the theme. Play of words is quite common in my lyrics. Whenever I get stuck, I just get as far way from writing music as I can. After that, I will sit down with the song again, and see if anything comes up.