Last week on Songwriting Wednesday I wrote a post about how to write a song. Sure, it isn’t Songwriting Wednesday but it is How-To Friday so I’m going get into that subject some more since this is something I’m actually having an issue with right now. This isn’t a step by step tutorial like the last one was. Its more of… well, its just different.
For a little over a month now I’ve been religiously attending a local open mic night. I’ve been writing and performing at least one new song per week. Suddenly I’ve hit a wall. Actually, the wall was there all along. Its just that I denied its existence.
To understand what brought me to this point you have to go back at least a year, possibly two. Being the rock and roller that I am I decided that the whole sex and drugs thing was something I could handle. I over indulged, ended up ruining my life, and in the process managed to stop caring about my art. It was so sad because without music I don’t make sense. And I don’t mean other people’s music, I mean writing my own. I sold my Fender Strat and a vintage Epiphone acoustic that was way cheaper than it should have been.
After that I didn’t write for about a year. Didn’t even think about it. All my instruments and recording equipment were gone.
Two months ago I got myself together. But I can’t be totally together without my music. I was fortunate enough to get a beautiful Epiphone Dot Studio (the kind Pete Yorn uses… sort of).
I’ve been writing songs every week but none of them are any good. I mean they are certainly passable and they aren’t anything that would get you booed off a stage but they aren’t me. They have no heart. The music is written so quickly and the lyrics have no heart at all.
I said last week that inspiration is for suckers. And that definitely still holds true. But sometimes you hit a creative wall. You can push through a metric ton of shitty songs and never come out the other end. In those cases what do you do?
Put down the guitar. Smoke a cigarette. Have a beer and watch TV. Take a walk in the woods. Go to the city and look around. Indulge in the other creative activities you enjoy. Make contact with other humans. Create or destroy a relationship (either one of those things makes for excellent songs). Whatever you do, make sure you do it as an observer. Becuause if you aren’t observing then when it comes to writing the song you’ll have nothing to go on.
Thats it. That one paragraph is the cure to writers block. At least I hope it is. I’m on this journey with you. There are tons of articles on the subject online but I haven’t found one that’s helped. Your best bet is to let time take care of it. In the mean time keep on writing and performing those substandard songs. Because its those songs that get you to the promised land. Those songs are the acres and acres of debris surrounding the one previous diamond in the mine of your mind.
Keep diggin’ fellow songwriters. I’ll be right there with you.