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5 ways to beat songwriters block

Blog: 24th August 2017 by BIMM Bristol under Music Publishing, Music Training & Careers
5 ways to beat songwriters block

This blog is contributed by Kayla Painter, course leader for songwriting at BIMM Bristol. 

Writers block can be one of the most unhelpful mindsets to experience as a songwriter. Everybody is likely to have a unique way of writing and being creative. Here are just some of the ideas which have helped me overcome a stagnant phase.

1. Write when inspiration strikes!
Annoyingly, I have often found that inspiration tends to strike when I’m nowhere near instruments or computers, or when I’m at work. 

Sometimes, once an idea comes to me and I feel ready to write, I’ll feel I can hold onto that idea/energy until the weekend when I’ll have a quiet moment to map my ideas out. This was a mistake I made again and again, because by the time I had the space to write, my energy and ideas had expired. Trying to reignite them was frustrating and I ended up stuck in a negative cycle of not being able to write anything. 

I found the best way to overcome this is to do something creative the moment an idea comes to you. If I’m unable to carry an instrument, I’ll carry a notebook to jot down my thoughts or record things on my phone. Even if I can’t write down an idea, I find it so helpful to engage my creative brain whilst it’s active. Then, when I do get the time and space to write I have a record of ideas captured that I can revisit, and it’s far less stressful.


2. The Outdoors
I find if I am struggling with writers block the best thing for me to do is to take myself out of my current environment and go somewhere new.  The outdoors is my favourite way to do this, I go for walks in national parks and soak up the green. Even if it’s raining I’ll put my wellies on and head out. Part of writers block for me is about being bombarded with information all the time. Escaping all screens (including phone) and really enjoying the outside helps that a lot. 


3. Remember everybody has different processes
It is so difficult to not compare your writing with someone else. It’s very easy to look at people you know and think, well they write songs every week, why can I only write one a month? I’ve found this to be nothing but destructive to my creativity.  Comparing my songwriting with anybody else’s is pointless. It’s a unique process for everybody and once you fully realise that and don’t give yourself a hard time about it, you’ll begin to truly develop as an artist.


4. Experimenting
Trying new ways of composing sometimes feels a bit scary, but if I’m stuck trying to come up with new ideas I find it a very rewarding way to clear my head. Experiment with your instrument in a way you’ve never used it before. For example only playing one string on your guitar and seeing what you can come up with! Or recording an interesting sound on your smart phone. This doesn’t have to turn into your next best song but it’ll help unlock your creativity so you can begin to write again. Then your next best song will arise more naturally.


5. Know the environment you need
It’s taken me several years to know the type of space I can work in creatively. I need to be creating alone, I need there to be nobody else at home, and I have to shut my cats out of the room!  

I also find if the studio isn’t tidy I can’t work properly.  It’s taken me a while to realise what my optimum writing space is, but now I have it, it’s a space I can go and write. 


Kayla Painter is the course leader for songwriting at BIMM Bristol. BIMM Institute, The British & Irish Modern Music Institute, is the leading and most successful provider of modern music education in Europe. Highly respected and connected within the music industry, BIMMs colleges have produced a number of best-selling artists and many leading songwriters, musicians, agents, producers, A&R, journalists, broadcasters and major label managers. 

Its 7 colleges are in the dynamic cities of London, Berlin, Dublin, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton and Birmingham ensuring that its 6,000 students are based in areas with thriving music scenes to get the most out of their talent.


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