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As long as people have been writing creatively, there has also been an unfortunate phenomenon known as writers block. It can seem to happen at any time without any warning, but today I will show you some ways that you can change your habits and avoid having this happening to you.
Almost any composer you talk to can probably describe to you a time that they went through writers block. Though just because it happens often doesn’t mean there isn’t any way to prevent it or get yourself out of it. Most creative blocks are a symptom of your life becoming too busy or too routine. In other cases, you as an artist may just be acting too hard on yourself. Whatever the case may be, there are ways to fix it and even prevent it from happening in the future.
Though if you choose to do nothing but sit around and mope about it, then you are just setting yourself up for failure. The people that do this are generally the ones to give up on pursuing music as a career altogether. Trust me, this does not have to be you.
If your creative juices need a little loosening up then I recommend you read through this list of refreshing ways you can take care of yourself and get back to writing!
Take A Breather
Many musicians (and people in general) can feel like they aren’t succeeding in life if they don’t have fifty million things going on at once. However, by spreading yourself too thin you aren’t giving yourself the chance to excel in any one thing.
What you need to do is take a moment to yourself and just breathe (and by a moment I mean at least a day or two). Don’t try to write music. Don’t try to do anything other than relax and recharge your batteries.
And what better to recharge than to SLEEP. Sleep is a beautiful and healing thing that many take for granted. There is at least one person I know who experienced a half-year writers block because he never got more than 5 hours of sleep a night. He passed up sleeping for staying an extra couple hours at a party or staying up a little later to try and get a project done. Once he realized that lifestyle just wasn’t working (and also how nice if felt to be well rested), that writers block seemed to disappear into thin air.
Pick Up A New Instrument
After a while of writing music on the same instrument, it’s easy to fall into a habit of writing the same general song over and over. You’ll find a lick or certain chord progression you like the sound of and hold onto it for dear life.
Try letting go of what you know and challenge yourself to write in a way you never have before. You don’t need to be a master of this new instrument. Just getting down the basics is enough to give you a whole new perspective on your writing process.
Learn A New Skill
Do you feel like you’ve gotten stuck in a drab routine that you that you can’t seem to get out of? A great way to shake it up a little is by learning a new skill. I’m not suggesting you need to become a professional sky diver or anything, but even just looking into what creative classes are available in your area can be enough.
I have a songwriter friend who found herself deep in a creative dry spell. She tried taking a pottery class to change things up a bit and while her pots weren’t always the most symmetrical ever(shh, don’t tell her I said that), it worked wonders for her writing and not long after that she those creative juices were flowing once more.
Visit A New Country
Sick of walking down the same street, seeing the same buildings, and eating the same food every day? Well luckily for you there is a whole world of new adventures out there waiting for you.
If you are feeling especially daring, pack up a couple bags right now and head to the airport to catch the next earliest flight to anywhere. Or if that’s a little too spontaneous for your taste, than carefully plan out the details to your next must see city.
Travelling is a great way to not only gain new valuable life skills, but also gain valuable life experiences for you to write about. Can’t afford to hop a plane? Then why not go out and explore your own back yard? Take a street you never thought to drive down and see what you find. Talk to some new people and don’t forget to bring something to write on to remember these experiences for later.
Talk To A Stranger
If you are a particular unsocial person, this might sound a little scary to you. But all the more reason to do it! Next time you are taking a cab somewhere or waiting for a bus, step outside your comfort zone and see what you can learn from the people around you.
When we get stuck hanging out with the same social groups all the time it is easy to forget that there are people different to us out there. You’ll find that people are probably a lot more willing to talk than you would expect. I had a great conversation with a disabled elderly lady once who had a very interesting perspective on life that she shared with me. This gave me some great ideas musically, and she was also grateful to have someone to share her stories with. Can’t complain about that!
The Art Of Meditation
Meditation has become quite a commonly used method of relaxation in the past few years, and that’s because it works. A big part of writers block is that negative voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough. Meditation is a powerful tool that can train your brain to quiet those voices and focus on the important things. There are many resources online, or probably even classes available in your area that can teach you the best ways to practice this.
Start small by working meditation into your schedule for only a few minutes a day. Once you get the hang of that, see if you can stretch that time. They say that the people who are too busy to meditate are the people who need it the most.
You Will Get Through This
The most important thing to remember during a creative dry spell is that it isn’t going to last forever. At least, it doesn’t have to if you take some initiative to stop it. I’m not saying that you have to complete this whole list of things, but I promise that you will notice a difference after at least trying a couple. You aren’t the first person to run into writers block, and surely you won’t be the last. So don’t let it get you down and remember to have a pen and paper ready for when that inspiration hits you once again!
About the Author
A professional prog rock musician, Tommaso Zillio is a regular writer of columns about music composition.