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Finding Your Hidden Musical Triggers – How To Overcome Writer’s Block

One of the most powerful things we experience in life is being in the zone.

Everything you do is right, everything you say is right, and every note comes out like mimosas at a Sunday brunch (Oh, I’m just getting one drink – said no middle-aged woman ever.)

I’ve written a lot of music. Some good, some bad. Some amazing, and some so bad I wanted to stomp on the nearest garden of flowers.

The funny thing is that when I wrote music that was REALLY good – it was also the easiest to write.


We interfere the writing process by interrupting it with our own thoughts. It’s a natural mechanism that the brain uses in order to stop progression. Routine is what the brain uses as a protection and survival method, thanks to evolution.

The music that came out of me that was god-awful was also a PAIN IN THE ASS to write. Every note felt like a tooth being pulled from my mouth.

If the music stops, take a 15 minute break and pick it back up. No harm in that.

We stop artistic flow by asking questions before it’s ready to be judged. When you’re in the process of creating something new, the first immediate reaction is to shame it like the nerd it is. I would immediately slap my baby before it could walk.

Keep your thoughts to yourself when you write music.

Steven Pressfield calls this “Resistance” and man, it’s nasty. Anything you do that is close to bettering your situation, craft, or lifestyle is hit with a thousand-man army that will die to see you stay exactly where you are. Be safe, do nothing, says the brain.

As I got more into psychology, I began to notice the connections between that world and the music world.

I call them Musical Triggers.

You can program yourself to enter in these states by recognizing them, conditioning the pattern, and testing them.

Find Your Hidden Musical Triggers

As an artist, anything we do can be turned into music. The noise on the street, the feel of the air, or an unpleasant emotion.

Use these emotions and life experiences to find these hidden Musical Triggers. Use these questions to help discover them:

1. What life experiences can I write music about?

2. If I were the world’s greatest musician, what would my perfect music sound like?

3. If I could hear the musical soundtrack to the events in my life, how would it go?

4. If an emotion, color, or thing I like had music, what would it sound like?

5. What is missing in the music world that NEEDS to be heard?

6. If I played in front of the entire world, what would come out of the speakers?

Once you feel that artistic gut oh-my-god-this-music-is-going-to-be-badass feeling, write down that exact thought. That’s a Musical Trigger.

Condition The State – Get Physical

Once you write it down, get up from the chair, walk around, and spend 30 seconds getting pumped. Do jumping jacks, pushups, pace around, whatever it takes. Get active, do not just sit there.

What you’re doing is breaking your current physical pattern and reconditioning it to this new physical state. Wherever the body goes, the mind goes.

When you associate this Musical Trigger to this new state of vitality, your brain links them together. Condition this feeling correctly and whenever this trigger hits again, you will feel this rush of excitement and enthusiasm.

Your brain is going to expect this next step…

Solidify Your Musical Trigger – Emulate and Play

Once you’re in this active, inspired, positive state – crystalize exactly the OVERALL sound of your music. Don’t focus on the details. Just imagine this beautiful, perfect sound that people are starving for.

Get to your instrument, craft, or workstation, and work with a playful attitude. You aren’t working, you’re having fun with a gift someone gave you. Don’t interfere, don’t question it, just let the notes come out. This is where it gets fun.

The notes will come out and you’ll have some hesitancy at first. Wait, aren’t I supposed to be stopping and critiquing it now?

But that critiquing becomes crafting the notes as it flows instead of stopping the notes as it flows. It turns into an actual song. That song rebuilds onto itself and it no longer becomes a self-defeating act. It becomes a revealing act.

So tell me, what do you notice about yourself when you create your best music?

Leave a comment below and share your insights.

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