• Philip Marsden

10 Tips to Help You Overcome Writer's Block

Hitting a writer’s block can be one of the most frustrating situations and it can strike at any time. Here are 10 practical tips to help you out next time you feel like your creativity has run dry!

Change your environment

It’s been proven that changing your surroundings can have a huge impact on your productivity. If you always write music in the same space, try switching it up a bit. You could rearrange the room, spend some time writing outside or even go for a weekend away where you can focus entirely on your creativity.

Listen to some podcasts and interviews

Getting out of your own head and into someone else’s is a great way to source some inspiration. I recently discovered the Song Exploder podcast, in which famous artists tell the story of how their songs were made. I’d definitely recommend it to any music fan, but especially those looking for some inspiration! Check it out here.

Get feedback

The power of a second set of ears should never be underestimated. When you’ve been listening to your song for hours on end, decision making becomes more difficult and it's easy to run out of creative juice. If you’re stuck, get some feedback from your friends and family.

Another great place to get feedback is Audiu. This is a community driven website, with a focus around getting feedback from industry professionals and other creatives.

I also provide free, unbiased production and mix critiques. If you’d like one, just register here.

Use different tools

Get away from your comfort zone. Using different tools can force you to think outside of the box. If you’re a guitarist, sit down at a piano and see what ideas and melodies come to mind. If you always use Pro Tools, switch to Ableton and experiment with some new techniques. There are tons of ways to do this!

Limit yourself

Equally, limiting yourself can force you to think more creatively. There are so many music making tools and sounds right at our fingertips these days, which is wonderful, but if you get too distracted by choosing which microphone to use or which virtual instrument sounds best, you can bypass all creativity. Force yourself to use just one or two instruments to begin with and you might be surprised at what you can come up with! You can always refine this and expand your sound pallet later on.

Be ready to take advantage of inspiration at a moment’s notice

Inspiration can strike at any moment. Be prepared for your next eureka moment by keeping a notepad nearby, recording voice memos on your phone, or even by using an app like Garageband to get ideas out of your head quickly.

You can also prepare yourself for these moments by making your workspace as friction-free as possible. Make it quick and easy to open your DAW and record an idea. Keep a guitar plugged in and on hand, use DAW templates so that you don’t have to waste time setting up tracks and try to keep clutter to a minimum.

Scribble in your piano roll

This is a bit more brash than some of the other tips, but if you’re really low on creativity, try scribbling in your MIDI piano roll and see what comes of it. Who knows, something might stick and spark a thousand new ideas!

Write from another perspective

What are you trying to express in your lyrics? Could you write it from another perspective? What films or TV shows have you been binging lately? Maybe you could draw inspiration from a character in one of those. Think outside of your firsthand experiences.

Listen to some music

This sounds obvious, but it’s easily overlooked. Listen to your favourite albums, put your Spotify on shuffle, try a new playlist or listen to an entirely different genre than you normally would. While you listen, make quick notes of any sounds, lyrics or musical ideas that you like and pull them into your own music. One idea can spark a thousand more!

Take a break

Finally, if all else fails, it might be best to simply take a break and end the burnout. This could be a 15 minute rest for a cuppa, a week off or even a month away from music. You will come back with a fresh perspective and a rested mind, ready to get those creative juices flowing again!


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