If you have writer’s block, you may need to change the way you’re thinking about things.
It’s all too often that the expectations you put on yourself are the exact reason you don't meet those expectations. Kind of ironic, eh?
How do you defeat that? Change your expectations.
Do you feel like you have a strange attachment to a general idea of "success"?
Think of it in this way: you may not really be able to envision what "failure" would look like, or feel like, but for some reason you're afraid of it!
It's not as if you're in a battle, where "losing" would mean you die, or have to submit to the torture of your enemies! There is no real reason to be afraid of writing music, yet we still become afraid of it because of our inner egos!
This ego introduces a pressure inside of you to "perform" or "do well", as if your value as a human being comes from the music you write. This pressure to be generally "successful" can give you writer’s block.
Here's how you can break out of your ego, and defeat your writer's block.
Instead of saying something like:
“I have to write something really good, right now, first try”.
...change it to something like:
“I just need to write something today. I need to get myself into a space where I’m writing, and that’s all I have to do”. That way, if you ended up writing today, you were a success.
Focus on writing every single day and being creative, and then once you’ve created, let your inner editor take out the trash.
The idea is that you can later take your initial ideas, and edit them and fine tune them until they become impressive. But if you’re always expecting yourself to write something good every time, you can expect that you won’t be writing all that often; how often can you really confidently say that you’re “about to write something awesome”.
You never really know until you’ve written it.
I often work hard to come up with ideas that I think are great, and they end up being lame. And sometimes the easiest ideas for me to create end up being the best ones I’ve had. It’s kind of wacky that way.
What’s important is that you’re always writing. Remove the expectations of greatness, even if you’re already an experienced musician, and focus just on writing every day.
I recently decided that I wanted to write an article every day for a year. It’s very important to me that I meet this goal, because I often get down on myself that what I write for this website won’t be “ good enough”. That perpetual thought of not writing, and then thinking I’m not good enough to write, causes a big blow to my intellectual self-esteem.
Since I’ve started writing everyday, it just doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve come to the realization that I can write whatever I want, and if it sucks, I just don’t have to publish it. I may not like my articles when I write them, but every time I go back and read one , it ends up being fairly decent, so I go ahead and publish it.
The same goes for music. Get rid of the pressure of “I have to write a song that’s good enough for an album”, or other thoughts like that. Pretend you’re a teenager again, writing songs on your own with no one to hear or listen. Go back to that place, and just noodle around with songs, and be creative.
Getting rid of this expectation takes a whole lot of pressure off, and can help make music fun again
If you are impressed by maximalism, then be maximalistic, even if the trend is to do post-dubstep minimalistic funk music. And if you love minimalism, do minimalistic music! And if you love both of them, then write both.
Stay true to what your desires are in music, and always do things that excite you. If you ever catch yourself writing music that you don’t enjoy, you’d better stop and think why that is. Maybe you just don’t have the skills yet to write music that you like, in which case you should focus on just writing in a way that is fun for you.
If the reason you’re writing music you don’t like is because you’re just pandering to some silly “demographic” or music culture, take a step back and think about the types of music that you really enjoy, and find the cross section of music that you both enjoy, and that you’d actually be capable of writing with your current skill level.
For example, I love metal music, but I’m really not the type of musician who would ever be able to write anything particularly complex, as I’m just not an extremely technical guitar or drum player. I could write something heavy and rad, but I wouldn't invest myself heavily into the genre much beyond a few experiments.
Another genre I love is electronic music, and something I’ve always been good at is working with programs on the computer, so it makes a whole lots of sense for me to focus my efforts on an electronic project, as both my passions and talents lie there.
This options also suits me better than metal because I’m at a point in my life where finding reliable, talented, creative band members is very difficult. Doing things on my own (for now) is just the best option for me.
If you have writer’s block, then you need to change your approach. This might even just include making some changes in your life to find some balance.
For me, all the difference was made when I started doing jui-jitsu martial arts. The confidence and energy that came from doing that is what made me feel I was ready to write an article every morning, and to commit to that. It seems unrelated to the internet, but has had a drastic impact. So if you’re really struggling, start with your main pillars of health (sleep, diet, exercise) and move forward from there into some of the tactics I suggested above.
If you have any other ideas for what causes, and what gets rid of writer’s block, share it with me in the comments below.
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.