May 5

If you’re like me there have been times when you sat in front of a blank piece of paper or screen, knowing that you want to write something, but nothing’s coming.

It happens to every writer, whether it’s music, lyrics, articles or a blog posting. ;-)

The dreaded writers’ block.

OK, so what? We all have it you say. You’re probably asking yourself, why would I want to read about writers’ block? Well, the point of this is not to explain how frustrating it is but to show you some ways you may be able to get around it. These have worked well for me in the past. Invariably, if I ever get blocked, it’s because I forgot about these little tricks.

There are many reasons people get blocked. Many aren’t having anything to do with whether or not you’ve got something to say. Often, you can be blocked because it’s not a convenient time to write, or  there are family issues or interruptions, or your tired or sick. Those situations you can’t always help.

Sometimes a block isn’t really a block, it’s just being undecided.

It’s on the tip of your tongue and it’s almost like your mind is flipping through channels trying to settle on something and there’s nothing on the tube.

Let’s face it, there are billions of subjects and settling on one is a daunting task. That being the case, realize it’s not your fault.

You’re not losing your mojo, your muse didn’t leave you for a younger writer with a better pencil and most of all, you’ve not gone blank. Basically you’re just at a crossroads on the verbal interstate and you don’t know which turn to take.

Consider this as I stretch this metaphor to the point of breaking: it doesn’t matter which road to take, you’ll still end up at a worthwhile destination. Even if you take a turn, double back and take another one you’re still traveling.

I’ve heard this before (it helps if you picture a whiny sarcastic voice)” It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. As cliche as it sounds, it couldn’t be more accurate.

Try this: pick a subject, any subject and write a line.Then stop writing. Flip to a new page and write a line about something different and stop again. Flip to a new page, etc. You will automatically know when to stop doing this.

What’s happening is you’re getting your thoughts moving. Kind of forcefully, true, but they’re moving.

If you’ve ever gotten stuck in a snowbank, you’ll understand this right away. The best way to get out of it is to go forward, then reverse,then forward again. Rocking it back and forth until you gain enough momentum and before you know it, you’re on the road.

OK, so now  you’ve stopped turning pages because you got to a point where you could expand on the first line. Congratulations, you’ve settled on a subject. Realize that’s the biggest hurdle. Now decide what to say about it.

That’s not as difficult, but it can seem that way and if you still think you’re blocked you’ll be back thinking about your missing mojo and your pencil envy. Don’t let that happen.

Understand that everything you write doesn’t have to be wisdom handed down from the sages. Remember the Ramones? Lots of hits with simple songs.

You might say, “Well that’s not what I write. I write meaningful lyrics with well constructed passages, I write blah de blah blah blah.”

Big freaking deal. Take yourself down a peg or two. Your high horse is making you afraid you’ll fall.

Write a crap song and have fun with it. I once wrote a song called (I’ll be forever ashamed) “Sally No One Saves it Anymore”. Yeah, I know, I know…..ugh.

Ever hear the song “Wild Honey Pie” by the Beatles?

Here’s a clip: Wild Honey Pie

According to Wikipedia:

McCartney said of this song: “We were in an experimental mode, and so I said, ‘Can I just make something up?’ I started off with the guitar and did a multitracking experiment in the control room or maybe in the little room next door.

It was very home-made; it wasn’t a big production at all. I just made up this short piece and I multitracked a harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and a harmony to that, and built it up sculpturally with a lot of vibrato on the [guitar] strings, really pulling the strings madly. Hence, ‘Wild Honey Pie’, which was a reference to the other song I had written called ‘Honey Pie’.”[1]

According to McCartney the song might have been excluded from The Beatles album, but Pattie Boyd “liked it very much so we decided to leave it on the album.”[4]

So you see, it doesn’t take much rocking to get things rolling (sorry, that was bound to come out). Experiment with something unusual.

Another thing you may want to try is to listen to music from artists you’re not familiar with. Go to Amazon.com and search for someone you like, then look at the other folks they suggest.

You can also sign up for a free account with Pandora.com and create a radio station for a fave artist. They’ll play music from other bands with similar qualities. Listen for a unique sound or phrase, or structure.

Worst case, you might not get your car out of the snow, but you’ll hear some good music waiting for the tow truck to show up.

-V