As a musician, there are times when you will face the dreaded writer’s block. In these instances, a quick fix like a break, a nap, or a cup of coffee will often do the trick and help you come up with some ideas. Inspiration often comes as quickly as it goes so the smallest of tweaks can go a long way in kick-starting your creativity once again.
However, how do you deal with a situation where nothing seems to help? How do you get yourself out of a funk that has lasted days?
While there is no one blanket answer to this situation, here are a few tips and suggestions to help you along the way.
Change musical genres in songwriting
As a musician, sitting in the studio and working on the same songs over and over can become tiring and tedious, even more so if you only work within one specific genre of music.
A not-so-secret music secret is to work on musical genres that you are not accustomed to.
By doing this you are challenging yourself by actively practising and creating outside of your comfort zone. Breaking out of your comfort zone will further contribute towards your development as a musician.
Different genres also use different styles of playing and composing. By experimenting and exposing yourself to unfamiliar playing styles, you will ultimately become a musician with a better playing technique and this will directly translate to the quality of music you perform or create.
A fantastic, yet underrated, way to jump-start your creativity is to collaborate with other musicians. Something as simple as tapping a pianist for some melodies, or a guitarist for a few riffs goes a long way in spurring one’s creativity.
Collaboration breathes new life into the project as it allows for fresh ideas you may not think of yourself to be added on to the project.
Additionally, your co-collaborator may be more musically adept than you are thus able to express themselves in a way you are not.
For example, you’re a talented guitarist and know your way about drums but when it comes to playing the piano or keyboard, your skills are not as impressive. What do you do in this situation? Right, you collaborate with Jacob who plays at the local café and is an excellent keyboardist!
Change of scenery during songwriting
Music technology has developed a great deal over the years, and thanks to advancements in this field creating music has never been easier. We live in a time where literally anyone with access to a computer can become a music producer, beat maker or musician.
If working in your studio 24/7 leaves you feeling uninspired then a change of scenery may be exactly what you need. Writing and composing on your balcony or terrace, in a different room or on your sofa may be exactly what you need to get those creative juices flowing again. Our surroundings play a part in how productive we can be and if you ever find yourself stuck then try shaking things up a bit.
Structure Your Sessions
Although musicians and creatives in general are often dubbed as free-spirited or carefree in our way of life, remaining organized is in fact a big part of the life of a creative. Many successful creatives are extremely detail oriented and they stick to a relatively strict schedule when it comes time to work on their art and their craft.
With that being said, structuring your sessions can greatly help towards shaking-off any rust as you will be clearing all distractions and focusing on one scheduled task at a time. You could set a specific day for mixing, a different day for tracking instruments etc. The main thing is to get your head down and concentrate on the day’s work until you complete it.
Having sessions structured not only helps keep you organized, it will also build your discipline which in turn will benefit your life overall.
Remake Your Favourite Songs
This particular tip is without a doubt rather challenging, but in my opinion, it is also one of the most fun ways of getting out of a funk when you can’t seem to shake off the rust.
Remaking songs will essentially force you to break them down to the bare minimum. You’ll be recreating the chord progression, drum pattern, melodies etc from scratch and then putting it all together. This means you really have to pay close attention to whichever song you choose to work on so you can pick out all the details.
Analytical listening is a skill you will have to constantly develop as a musician and remaking songs is a great way to sharpen your analytical listening skills.
Remove distractions when writing songs
Getting rid of distractions and simply just focusing on the task at hand can often be a difficult thing to do. For instance, how many times have you sat down at the piano and told yourself that you’re going to get some work done only to find yourself on social media a few minutes later?
Creating music requires a level of concentration and diligence that demands you to get rid of all distractions. Sometimes you simply have to put your phone on airplane mode for an hour and get to work. Or perhaps you need to get out of a particular environment or just switch off your internet router for a bit. You must take the necessary steps to create a conducive work environment for yourself.
Don’t Chase the Rabbit
Often times, as a creative, your mind can be your own worst enemy. One second you have a million ideas and the next you have absolutely nothing. Now I know, you’re probably looking at this step and wondering what rabbits have to do with creating music. In fact, chances are that you do not own a rabbit and you never will, so let me explain.
Sometimes when we’re working on music, we will suddenly get hit with inspiration and we come up with new song ideas. The default urge would be to immediately start working on this new idea and ditching the project you’re working on. This is what we call “chasing the rabbit”; abandoning one idea for the next one simply because you thought of it.
Sometimes you have to get your head down and power through, which means ignoring all other intrusive thoughts. If you take a step back and apply this principle to your music, and life in general, not only will you be a more focused person but you will also stop losing interest so quickly in your songs and projects.
Creativity is quite subjective in the sense that no two artists work the same way. Some of these songwriting tips may help you, and some may not. At the end of the day you need to find out what works for you. For me, a lot of the times, a triple espresso and a change of environment seems to do the trick.
If you have any more tips and comments let us know. How do you get out of a funk?
About Lucas Welter
As an avid piano dreamer, Lucas has immersed himself in all things keyboards and music for more than 12 years. This captivating journey has inspired him to launch Piano Dreamers where he likes to share everything he’s learned over the years with his fellow musicians.
Lucas collaborated first-hand with many accomplished musicians and participated in numerous musical projects of note. From teaching to performance, consultation to making music, he’s been turning his piano dreams into reality for more than a decade.