• Phil McDonald

Writer's Block

If you're anything like me you'll sometimes sit down with your guitar intending to come up with some new ideas, a cool riff or a great chord sequence. But nothing happens. Zilch, na da. It's extremely frustrating and annoying when some people seem to be able to churn out songs by the bucket load and I struggle to get one in the bag. The same applies to lyrics. I sit, pen in hand hovering over a crisp piece of paper and all I can manage are a few doodles. Welcome to the world of writer's block.

People normally associate writer's block with authors by it equally applies to songwriters. But It can mean different things to different people. For some, it's a short lived experience, for others it can go on for months or more. Or some people may find it applies to lyrics but not to music. I've often come up with a melody but can't think of a topic or anything to write lyrics about. It affects different people in different ways.

So what causes it? There are a number of reasons writer's block occurs. A common reason is burnout, perhaps you've just finished promoting and gigging an album and you're mentally and physically tired. After the high of a successful release it's often hard to recapture the enthusiasm to get writing again. Other non musical factors can also play a part, if you're unwell or have personal or relationship issues for example. There's no one cause of writer's block. It can be a number of different things, sometimes individually or a combination of factors.

Needless to say, there's no one size fits all cure - the cause will sometimes dictate the cure. For example, if you are burned out after a gruelling schedule of gigs on the back of an album launch then a break away from music will do you the world of good. A break to take some time out with family and friends, play some sports. read some fiction etc will help you recharge and come back raring to go. If you find you're lacking inspiration go for a change of scenery. Try and take a break somewhere in the country, get away to the coast or the forest if you live in a big city. Slow down, take in your surroundings and enjoy the change of pace. Or try changing the way you write if the songs aren't happening. Try messing about on a different instrument, use a laptop or iPad to program some beats or loops and see if anything grows out of that.

I talk about this topic in more detail on this week's podcast which you can listen to here. Have you suffered from writer's block? How did you cure it?

Thanks foe reading


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