Writer’s block happens to the best of artists! If it’s been a while since you came up with anything you feel showcases your talent (or maybe anything at all), here are some ideas that will get those creative juices flowing again!
1. Get writing as soon as you wake up, or before bed when you’re really tired
When your brain is ‘half asleep’, it goes into what’s called a hypnagogic state. This is a great time for getting creative, as your brain’s thought processes change when you’re close to sleep. Scientific studies have shown that you are more mentally open and sensitive during this state, and you’ll also have a more fluid association of ideas – perfect for probing the ether and creating something out of nothing.
2. Try the ‘Bowie’ method
Legend has it that David Bowie (RIP) would cut up words from books, throw them all into a hat, pick some cuttings out randomly and use them as inspiration for lyrics. Try grabbing some cheap secondhand books or magazines and get chopping!
3. Try something you’ve never done before
Never eaten seaweed before? Give it a go. Take a different route home, walk somewhere you’ve never visited before, or talk to someone outside of your usual social circle. Our brains from new connections when we try something new, and this can be helpful not only for inspiration but for jump-starting the physical side of creativity.
“Time is this rubbery thing…it stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” – Eagleman
This method is all about putting two ideas that don’t necessarily ‘associate’ together. Use stream-of-consciousness style thinking to juxtapose words that you wouldn’t usually put together. This can lead to some interesting (if nonsensical) lyrics that can create unusual mental images, and possible inspire a sonic landscape to match.
If you’re really struggling, there are even websites that can do this for you!
5. Listen to jazz
There are no typical song structures with free jazz. Listening to a genre like free jazz (or any out-of-the-box music) can refresh your brain, allowing atypical ideas to flood your mind. (If you really wanna get weird, why not try some Chap Hop, Lowercase or Clownstep?!)
6. Jam with someone new
Been playing with the same band for a while? Why not jam with some other musicians you know, just for fun? Working with different players and styles will challenge you. If you don’t know anyone you can ask to jam, why not check out a local open mic night or musical event? You’re sure to meet someone new.
Alternatively, you don’t even need to jam with other musicians. You could play some tunes with your kid cousin on (pot & pan) drums, or get a friend who isn’t a musician to experiment by ‘jamming’ with you.
Been sitting in your studio too long? Sometimes great ideas come in moments of clarity. A jog, a brisk walk or any good workout that makes you sweat for 20-30 minutes will leave you with a clearer head and a sense of wellbeing afterwards. If you can exercise outdoors, you can be killing two birds with one stone, as natural scenery is another method to induce mental clarity.
8. Stop procrastinating
This one is a big ‘DUH’. But it’s a thing. Just put pen to paper or fingers to instrument – and create something. It doesn’t have to be good. No one else has to see it. But getting back into the rhythm and action of creating will help you keep your practice sharp. Nike might’ve been onto something when they slogan’ed ‘Just Do It.’
Which leads us to…
9. Stop trying to be ‘good’
The psychology behind your procrastination and writers block could essentially boil down to a ‘fear of f***ing up’: aka perfectionism. If there’s one thing art will never be, it’s perfect – ask any artist about their best work, and they’ll probably think of something they wish they’d done better!
If there’s one thing that kills creativity, it’s writing to a purpose – even when it’s as elusive as “I want other people to like this”. Ideally, creativity should come from the gut, the heart and the right side of your brain – not the judgemental, critical left brain. When you’re writing music, in the beginning of your process, try to eliminate rational thought as much as possible. You can leave that kind of thinking for when it’s time to refine your work.
We hope this sparks some creativity again! You can find more useful articles here!