We’ve all been there at one time or another, with a pen in hand, guitar on our lap and a completely blank mind. Writer’s block can be seriously frustrating, but tapping into inspiration can help lead you out of this dark hole.
Inspiration comes from within and can be as random as something you see in a magazine ad, or as traumatic as a death in the family. Whatever it is, it breaks down the dam of sensibility and streams you through a completely creative space where nothing is beyond limits. There are things to get this process moving along quicker, which is good news for you and your wallet.
1. Change Your Routine
Sometimes we get into the hang of following a strict routine, and life seems to hit a flat line. Try changing your routine, whether it’s going to bed later and sleeping in an extra hour, going to the gym in the morning or going out for coffee after work instead of heading straight home. You may notice something off your beaten path that stirs that instinct to write.
2. Go Outside
Many artists quote the great outdoors as being a source of inspiration. Go to the beach and watch the waves roll in, take the family for a hike in the woods, go mountain biking, for a jog or sit with a glass of wine on the patio and watch the sunset. You may feel a connection with your surroundings that will emit feelings perfect for words.
Reading new material helps build new ideas. Read that novel you’ve been meaning to pick up, grab a morning newspaper or have a look through the latest copy of your favorite magazine. It’s better than television because you can stop and reread something if it perks your interest. You’ll come across new ideas, life situations, world events and even other inspirational quotations, or prose that will set you in a new direction.
4. Try Something New
While this doesn’t necessarily mean to dabble in psychedelics, change is a good thing for songwriters. Many of the great songwriters like Bob Dylan and Neil Young went through countless transformations which inspired new music for them. Try sky diving, cooking or even a new instrument. Change stimulates us and gets us excited about life.
5. People Watch
This might sound odd, but people are so interesting, especially if you live in a big city. Spend some time at your favorite café, drink coffee and watch the people go by. You’ll notice comments and judgments float up through your mind about these people, or one particular person that interests you—characters in a story. Make up a theme song in your head for them, and go from there. Learning to be observational will take you a long way in songwriting.
6. Listen to Music
Pull out that old Led Zeppelin record you haven’t listened to in years and throw it on. Try listening to new music, or revisiting songs that touched you emotionally. Pick the songs apart like a critic or just lay out on the sofa with your eyes closed and enjoy it. This is similar to reading in that music offers new ideas and sounds which tap into our creative brain.
7. Go on Vacation
Take a break from songwriting and jump on a plane somewhere. The more exotic and unfamiliar the better, though going camping for the weekend free of electronics is also a good option. Explore, meet new people, learn new cultures or languages and try new things. Keep it relaxing, stress doesn’t write good songs.
8. Head Out for a Night on the Town
This doesn’t necessarily mean get smashed and hit every downtown bar you can find. Go out and catch a live show, no matter how significant the band, DJ or solo artist is. Being in a crowd of people all enjoying the same thing is a riot, and can inspire some good feelings and great lyrics. It may get you excited about writing again.
9. Explore Your Inner Workings
A lot of classic songs are emotionally charged. While this comes a lot from the performers themselves, the lyrics explaining these feelings are essential. Tap into your emotions, or significant events in your life. This can be something happy like your wedding day, or sad like the day your old dog passed away. While it can cause a bit of a rollercoaster effect you’ll find some organic thoughts will spring forth. Just remember to come back to normal afterwards.
10. Forget Reason
Try laying on your back or some other relaxed position, guitar in hand or fingers on the keys and completely forget about everything you know about music. Put away all the theory, chords, and notes and just close your eyes and see where your fingers land. This could end up in just a lot of noise, but you may find a new melody or riff by accident. This meditational practice is worth a try.
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