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Cures for writer's block

Curing writer’s block is a common theme for musicians, authors, artists and creative people in general. I am going to provide some unusual means of getting some inspiration back for musicians specifically.

As a creative individual from time to time there will be difficulties in keeping the creative juices flowing from a music perspective. In many instances, music is inspired from feelings and the conveyance of that emotion. This is not just restricted to vocal music as instrumental pieces are also often born of a musicians’ head space with the intended goal of evoking similar sensations in the listener.

It makes sense to ensure you have means of refreshing your existential experience in order to have a ground for the expression of new ideas, sounds, arrangements and melody which are capable of proliferating your feelings through the music you compose.

Here are some ideas on how to refresh your musical head space.

1) I find that getting out into the countryside is a great way to clear the mind and get a temporary sense of dislocation from daily life. In some instances just a few hours in a place of great natural beauty can bring fresh perspective and evoke feelings that can be of great inspiration. Personally I find hills and elevated land with exceptional views having the greatest effect in allowing me to reflect on my position in life. In the modern urban world it can be rare to see a sunrise or sunset or even a horizon that is not obscured by concrete. If you are usually a very social person why not go alone which can also boost the feeling of ‘blowing away some cobwebs’ in the mind. Getting down to the coast is another way to very swiftly shift perspective if you are lucky enough to have a coastal area within travelling distance. There is a lot of natural inspiration out there - put it to your advantage.

2) Visit another town that’s at least 100 miles away from where you live. New roads, new people, buildings, open spaces and culture can change your view and refresh perspectives. It can give you a renewed feeling about your own home town and leave you invigorated for a week or two. Such an easy thing to do yet the results are quite profound on providing a new thought pattern about where you are positioned within the greater whole in which you dwell. This provides ripe ground for inspiration and a fresh mind.

3) If practical, switch your musical working hours. If you work on music in the day, try a night time session and see if the twilight provokes new feelings that can translate into musical inspiration. Often a lack of sleep can in itself shift consciouness in a way that allows some ‘out of the box’ headspace. When we are tired the brain releases a new set of natural chemicals which could well be a trigger for some new approaches. This has been used to great effect by a well known experimental electronic producer.

4) Produce a track in a completely different genre that you ususally do. If you produce guitar inspired music leave this behind for a track and focus on an experimental ambient music piece for example. This can open creative doorways by allowing the experiences gained to feed into your more familiar working genre. Different production techniques will need to be absorbed and studied and this allows you to take from a wider pool of experience which can add interest to music through unexpected melodic directions and arrangements.

5) Take a complete break for a week. You could try this at home, but if possible try to have a holiday: a complete break. We all need time to unwind, recharge and as a creative person it is all too easy to neglect this. Often time pressured, unpaid when not working and having the cost of the holiday itself means is it all too easy to neglect the basic annual rest most people afford themselves. It is all too easy to think of the money aspect, but, in life. money whilst important must surely be secondary to good mental and physical well being. It’s one of the more obvious ways to adjust your mind but it is very easy to forget that intensely refreshed sensation one has after being on holiday and experiencing new cultures and people. This is a sure fire way of recharging your creative batteries and a great benefit to most aspects of life overall.

Barry Gardner operates SafeandSound Mastering, a high quality, low cost online mastering studio based in London, UK.

Reader Comments (10)

This is great. Here are a some tips that have helped me:

• Change up your routine. Too much routine can kill creativity. Look at your daily routine and figure out what you can do differently – even if it means switching your nightly showers to the a.m. It WILL help.

• Listen to a song that you’ve never heard of – and only once! Once the song finishes playing try to recall the entire song. Why? It’s likely that you won’t remember the entire song after hearing it just one. You’ll utilize your imagination as you try to put together how the song was. In doing so, you’ll likely recall a few of the exact parts of the song – but you’ll also come up with stuff that you thought you heard, but actually didn’t!

• Take a daily 20 minute power nap. Why? Thomas Edison used this technique to free his brain and access his superconscious mind for out-of-the-box ideas. He would sit in a comfy chair, clutching a handful of ball bearings, and go off to sleep thinking of whatever project he was working on. As he fell asleep, his hand would relax and the ballbearings would fall onto the floor with a clatter, waking him up. By doing this, he trained himself to be able to stay in that most creative alpha state between wakefulness and sleep. Many of his most brilliant ideas and insights came to him this way (source:

But most importantly, ACCEPT that you've got a writer's block. And understand that it's normal, and only temporary :-)

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterGabby Covay

Taking a break's the real key. Sometimes you can be too close to the music you're trying to make. Taking a step back for a few days at least can give you a fresh perspective. And probably some fresh ideas.

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterToby Rogers

I've got a series of 6 videos that help with understanding your creative mind, how to stop it being burnt out and how to train it. It's something I spent 20 years learning how to do, so please take a look if you need to get your creative alter ego fighting for you again.

Here's a link to Part 1 of 6

How To Master The Creative Mind Part 1

Thanks and if you have any specific questions about it please feel free to contact me.

The Ghost That Walks

August 14 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Bishop

Great article. Headphones and Pink Floyd work every time for me personally. Start with 'Animals' and go from there...

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher

Fantastic responses guys : ) making it an even more worthy read. Send it on to people you think might benefit.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Gardner

I encourage all aspiring artists to check out - it's the melting pot for artist collaboration and appreciation across the globe.

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterJumble Weave

I always find getting hammered helps

August 15 | Unregistered CommenterThe truth

roll a spliff and grab a guitar...the rest will come naturally

August 22 | Unregistered CommenterTXsongWRITEr

I've been a writer, professionally, for over 15 years. I found that a couple things in general work for me. First, remove yourself from whatever you are trying to accomplish entirely. Read a book in a genre you are totally unfamiliar with. If you are the outdoor type, spend some time inside and vice versa. Whatever it takes to remove you from your comfortable routine. Change that routine completely to the greatest extent possible.

Second, Spend a few hours in your own head lost in nostalgia. Think about a whole lot of little things...meaningless hings from your past that surprise you that you even remember. They will lead you, one into another, into all manner of new thoughts and ideas.

Then simply apply them to whatever it is that you are doing. The feelings, emotions..whatever. Sounds strange, but it works. At least it does for me. Heck, if nothing else, you'll come out of it relaxed.

August 24 | Unregistered CommenterNorm L

I've taught writers and creative people for almost 15 years, and I can tell you this: WRITER'S BLOCK IS NOT REAL. Writer's block is nothing more than a writer JUDGING their own work or ideas before they've even explored them. Writing is a PROCESS (with 4 distinct parts), and writer's block happens when you judge (part 3) while you're still creating (part 1).

I made a video called Writer's Block Instant Cure, which will clear anyone's block within 3 minutes. It works for writers, musicians, or ANYONE because the cause is always the same:

Enjoy, and happy writing!

February 6 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

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