Anyone who writes music knows what it’s like to hit a figurative (or literal… anyone?) wall. Maybe you’ve been working hard on a song or series of songs and then all of a sudden, you’re stumped. Or maybe you’ve taken an unfortunately long break from songwriting and all the momentum you were riding before is gone. Either way, it happens to us all.
Songwriting is like a muscle that needs constant attention and maintenance to stay strong. That’s why the pros often have to write 100 songs to get 1 good one. They write and write, and as they do, that muscle gets stronger and stronger--and so do the songs. But when that roadblock comes, as it does for everyone, it’s good to have a “game-plan” for how to get out of it before it becomes the norm.
Sometimes it just requires a bit of a reset to get back into a songwriting rhythm; other times it takes a bit more of a creative spark. Here are five ideas to help get you out of the rut:
Go to a show or watch someone else lead worship. It’s amazing what seeing someone else doing their thing can do inside of us. Oftentimes, in spurs on a desire for creativity and accomplishment, as we are reminded of how much we love what we do. Allow that healthy vigor to grow and energize your next song.
Listen listen listen. Find albums that have sparked inspiration within you before and listen to them again and again. Try to find new songs that give you pause and make you curious, asking questions like: What does that lyric mean? How could I use that same chord progression in a song? Perhaps try writing new lyrics over the melody of a song you admire, then rewriting the melody once the song is written.
Find your creative sanctuary. Where do you feel like you best meet with God? On the beach? In the mountains? At Starbucks? In the corner chair of your living room? Go there. Meet with the Lord in that space and allow His divine presence to speak into your songs.
Co-write. Find someone who is roughly at your same writing level and get together to share those half-finished songs. They might have an idea that finally inspires that hook you’ve been looking for, or you might do the same for them.
Write bad songs. Remember--the pros write hundreds of songs to produce a few good ones. Why would we be any different? Sometimes you have to write songs that you know are going to go in the trash, just to finish them and build up those songwriting muscles. Allow yourself to do that, with no self-judgement along the way. You’ll find reward in just the practice of writing songs.
How have you navigated songwriter’s block? We’d love to hear your ideas!