The Puzzling Truth About Writer's Block

2014 Jan 13, 2014

Have you ever had writer’s block? The phenomenon when you are sitting down to write your next opus but nothing seems to come out. You feel empty, dried up, void. You have seemingly no good ideas and just about every lyric, melody, or chord progression that comes to mind sounds overdone and worn out.


Via Jeff Kubina Flickr

You Can’t Create On Empty

Our pride tells us to keep looking deeper for the “music that’s inside of us” and it will come. Just be patient and it will come. But here’s the puzzling truth of it all: great songs aren’t born from an empty tank. In order to create something amazing, you need to be filled with other great music from other great artists.

This concept flies in the face of much “wisdom” out there, which claims that you are only tainting your pure musical ideas with other people’s songs and are then more likely to copy or “steal” from them. But that type of response is a prideful one built on the huge assumption that we have any pure musical ideas of our own. Newsflash: we don’t!

Nothing Is Original

Think about it for a second, the only reason you know anything about music is because you’ve listened to music before. Your very own opinions and ideas about what great music should sound like only comes from having listened to other music. There’s no way to start from pure originality, it’s simply impossible.

And that should never be our goal, because no one is truly “original” in the best sense of the word. What we should be focusing on instead is creativity and being you were uniquely created to be. Each of us sees things in a unique way and each of us can hear music in a unique way. That, my friends, is what we can offer the world of music.

Go Listen To Some Great Music

So to bring this all home to the problem of writer’s block, if you are feeling stuck and nothing good is coming out in your little songwriting pockets of time, stop what you’re doing and go listen to some great music. That’s write, get knee deep in someone else’s creation. Get back to what you love about music. Get inspired, have fun, and just let loose a bit.

If you do this, I guarantee you something weird will happen. Your head will instantly start swimming with ideas: riffs, melodies, rhythms, and lyrics will begin flooding your brain. And all of a sudden you will have a sudden urge to get in a quiet place, grab your instrument of choice and begin songwriting.

No Such Thing As Writer’s Block

Where did the writer’s block go? Well, it was never really there to begin with. The visual that there is something “blocking” your internal flow of original music is a false one and unhelpful. The better visual is this: you have a music tank that is either empty or full.

If it’s empty you’ll feel it and you won’t be very fruitful in songwriting. If it’s full (i.e. you’ve been listening to a lot of great music) you will brimming with ideas and the juices will be flowing.

Are you feeling empty today? Go fill your music tank!

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