Songwriters Block

5 Steps to Shake writers block

‘When your imaginary friends, stop speaking to you’

As a semi-okay keys player, I have often found it difficult and incredibly frustrating to knock myself out of ‘writers block’. Either my chords are too blocky, the lyrics I write are far too depressing or my surroundings and influences are so un-inspiring it makes me want to give up music altogether. *Pause for uncontrollable crying*

In this instance, I am writing from the perspective of working solo - I know there can be variations of when and where writers block may occur, most famously for me is during a collaborative production session. But we’ll save that juicy tale for another day.

So picture the scene…(for dramatic effect) It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, perfect weather for movies and hot chocolate on the sofa, but you also woke up saying ‘Today is the day I write a banger*!’ (for the sixth Sunday in a row and it’s never amounted to anything more than a tasty accompaniment to your mash potato lunch). So, how do we break this frustrating reoccurring event?

Here are 5 practical steps I use to snap me out of it:

  1. Firstly, I decide on a genre or current song I melodically enjoy and search the net for something or something similar - Many producers showcase their instrumentals on Soundcloud, Youtube, Facebook to name a few and the joy of music is that there is an absolute variety to choose from. Using ‘Taylor Swift - Shake it Off’ as an example - I normally type something like ‘Taylor Swift type beat’ in Youtube search engine and have a look at what’s on offer. Playing through a few seconds at a time of each available track, I can mostly judge by the time of the chorus/drop whether I like it or not. (Love what you hear - Good News! Most producers sell their original music, so if you wanted a copy without the watermark sound effect, don’t be afraid to get in touch.)
  2. Once you have found a song you can work with, grab your voice recording device (I normally use my iPhone voice memo app), click record and freestyle, yes I said freestyle for the full duration of the song. Put down as many vocal and lyrical ideas as possible - don’t think about it, just sing and say what feels natural. Do this two or three times and you will notice the melodies that stick.
  3. Listen back to all recordings, have a good laugh and a cringe over what has been performed and then choose a section you can work with as a starting point.
  4. Build a formula over the track (Finding the length of each section: verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge) and find a suitable point to insert your first melodic motif/idea.
  5. Then finally, count the syllables in your melody and begin to piece in words like a puzzle. e.g. If your melody moves like ‘Lalala la la lala la, la la la la la, la la’ you could write something like this… ‘Daydreaming on a sunny day, oh I love the way, you look.’ (La = 1 syllable) And guess what?! You’re writing!

In reality, the phrase ‘it’s easier said than done’ will linger in the back of your mind, however here are some tips that will hopefully silence those negative thoughts.

Flavour tips:

#1 - Stuck for words?! Join the club, however we are all into either a TV Series, a favourite movie or even a good book and sometimes, the script writers show off their talents with these profound one liners. Anytime you hear or read something you think sounds deep or simply cool, make a note of it - you never know when these could contribute to a really good lyric or concept.

#2 - Those of you talented enough to play an instrument, try learning 4 simple chords on another and notice how your perspective and inspiration to write changes.

#3 - Don’t be afraid to write a crappy song! Writing badly will eventually become better, not writing at all leads to nothing.

Thank you for reading, it has been a pleasure sharing this with you. I hope it helps and if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact me at jamie@jamiejooste.com

If you’re more of a visual learner (such as myself), please stayed tuned for my upcoming video and demonstration on ‘Songwriters Block.’

Banger

noun BRITISH informal

noun: banger; plural noun: bangers

1. a sausage.

"Bangers and mash

2. an old car in poor condition.

"They've only got an old banger

3. a loud explosive firework.

"These fireworks are no longer bangers but more like explosives

4. A big friggin’ tune!

“This is about to be a Banger!”

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