Got Beats but No Lyrics?
For as long as I’ve known myself I’ve been hearing songwriters, authors and poets complaining about the dreaded ‘writer’s block’ (producers such as myself who make smooth hip hop beats call this ‘beat block’). Writer’s block is basically a loss of inspiration where nothing worthy of using comes to mind in the middle of writing a song. This can be very frustrating and perpetuate itself by lowering your confidence in your ability to complete your song the way to hear it in your head. I’ve taken it upon myself to put together 5 ways, based on personal experience, that this dreaded condition can be conquered
1. Take a Pause for a Serious Cause
It’s never a good idea to force your art, whether writing lyrics or trying to make hot rap beats. If you find yourself stuck in the middle of a song or unable to find the right metaphor or cadence for a particular line, a simple way to solve this is to simply pause, put the song down and step back from it for a while. It may be that the original burst of inspiration has simply lost steam and you need to stop beating your head against it and clear your mind for a bit. There is no shame in accepting this as a fact of life. It happens. Best thing to do is let your mind be occupied with something else like maybe, your family, significant other, video games or even with nothing at all (meditation works!). This will allow you to come back to your song later with a fresh perspective. When your brain gets wrapped up in trying too hard to get something done exactly how you think it should be, it can become difficult to see things creatively especially when you keep getting more and more frustrated. Taking a break can allow you to come back to it and pick up where you left off and trust me, you will be amazed at how well new ideas will flow.
2. Listen to Similar Music
This is fairly straight forward and works for a lot of people. Imagine your a rapper and you’re penning what you hope to be a hot new single. Sometimes you get stuck and upset with yourself. The key is to first stop worrying. Second, it truly does help to pause from your own stuff and listen to some of your favourite music in the same genre, or listen to some smooth soulful beats (if that’s the style your are writing to). Remember, listening to the music is probably what inspired you to pick up a pen and endeavour to write your own songs in the first place so listening to your favourite artists can often bring you back to that place where it was all about your enthusiasm and allow you to rediscover that fire in your gut that you need to write the way you want to.
Keep your end goal foremost in your mind. Know exactly what you want your song (or your beats) to sound like when it is recorded, mixed and mastered. Picture the music video and the cover art. Keep these things in mind at all times. If and when the frustration of writer’s block sets in, always come back to these images. It should be safe to assume that visualizing in this way will fill you up with positive emotions and raise your vibration. This will create a chain reaction in you and allow you to remember your original enthusiasm and inspiration. As a result you should be able to think clearer and see more alternatives to get your song where you want it to be. In other words, don’t get lost in the frustration. Keep in mind the end goal and let your emotions be guided by that. After all, we attract what we focus on most.
You may look at this and say “wait…what?”, but reading is probably the best way to expand the mind and harvest new ideas. If you are stuck on a particular idea or in need of a new way to say what you want to say, then reading something new may help. Whether it is a novel, a blog or a poem, seeing the successful results of another’s written work may inspire a new idea or teach you a new literary devices. There have been many times when I’ve read something and said “damn that’s so cool I need to use something like this in a song!”. Don’t underestimate the power of picking up a book. The wisest among us know that we never stop learning.
5. Ground Yourself in the Reality of your Subject Matter
Last but not least, what I’ve found is that many of us get caught up in trying to hard to sound cool, to write better metaphors than the next guy or to sound like the latest hit on the radio. We often forget to maintain focus on the fundamental idea that we started to write about in the first place. It helps to remember the reality of your subject. If you’re writing about real issues in society, or your own life, or love/lust always keep in mind that these things are have very basic foundations in day to day reality. Ask yourself questions like “how has this actually affected me and how can I describe that in my song?” By drawing on the real world around you, it is very easy to find something new to say or to find a new angle from which to draw inspiration
Well I hope this post helps anyone who needs it. I actually had to use some of these methods while writing it as I did get stuck one or two times! Here’s to your success!!