Techniques You Use to Break a Creative Block


when i have a block, i'll usually just start writing poetry and see what comes out of it - what is singable and what isn't. if that doesn't work, i listen to songs that i like and try to get inspired by its subject.

this is the best way to approach it, by keeping on going.
i know i am my worst critic and i've heard others, many famous people say the same.
here at HR we're not talking from lofty heights of nobility, the name in itself says it all "home" recording.
now that ideal has changed like, a, what do they call it - order of magnitude - due to the technology.
the possibilities in the basement today are nothing less than awe inspiring by comparison.
i get so much much inspiration from the folks here and a few other sites.
but all this is daunting.
so - now i have abbey road at my fingertips - now what?
well like assman said "just start writing"
I lift my mug to you.


If only for a moment.....
For some reason I usually have more than one song in mind. Not sure why but for me they come in multiples
Same here. I always have so many songs on the go and there's tons of ideas in the computer just in case I ever do get some sort of block. One thing that has always proved useful is to get down any idea, no matter how crummy it initially seems. It may be years before I get back to it, it may be that I never do, it may well be that when I do get around to it I will have forgotten what I had in mind or can't imagine what I had in mind when the idea originally came. But they're there. I've never had a creative block. Whenever I wonder if I've shot my bolt, loads of songs come and I just can't stop them. You never know where an idea will end up. I never know what my songs actually sound like until they are actually mixed so it's a bit of an adventure for me.
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If only for a moment.....
I've never experienced "writer's block" per se - however, I believe there is a reason. I constantly have a guitar in my hands or am sitting in front of a piano - or have some other instrument in front of me (at least if I'm not sleeping. If it's not happening on guitar I'll sit at the piano, or pick up a mandolin or lap steel or blow a harmonica - if I keep searching, I'll find something
For me it's a similar thing though not instruments ~ it's genres. By having a wide musical head it's a really difficult thing to encounter writer's block and I've yet to. Listening to a wide variety of music and endeavouring to replicate the differing genres in my own idiosyncratic way means that there's always a lot to draw from in the pool. For me, the presence of the different styles is no contradiction and there is no clash, be it the sweet melodies of pop, the deceptive simplicity of reggae, the complex improvisations and disobedience of jazz, the meandering deconstructions of the avant garde, the hard hitting volume of heavy rock, the experimental nature of progressive rock, the grandiose family outings of classical, the gritty street bounce of funk, soul and rap, the silky yet not smooth bumpiness of folk, the versatility of blues, the mystery of film scores and the singalongability of show tunes, the exoticism of Indian and other ethnic styles; these and more have so insinuated my musical consciousness that they are just part of the way I think when it comes to songs. I'm at home with songs that last less than a minute or are 30 minutes. With all that also comes a vast array of what can be done instrumentally and in that regard VSTIs have upped the game as supplements to what I or friends can already play.
Perhaps it's easy to say this but I have always found that practice makes permanent. Think songs and pieces and you'll keep coming up with songs and pieces, even if they're derivative. I couldn't write in just one vein, either genre wise or instrumentally.
The only songs I had problems writing were the first few.


If only for a moment.....
I like to take existing songs by groups / people I enjoy and put a twist on them. Convert a song you like from 4/4 to 3/4. Changeup the rhythm pattern or something
I'd take this a stage further and rather than just do a cover, take elements of the cover and build from there with the aim of making what you come up with unrecognizable from the song you are taking from. Like using the chord sequence of a hymn or the taking the melody of a Christmas carol and writing music around that melody so that whenever you hum that melody, it will always fit into whatever music you have for the song ~ but you don't use the carol melody. Or maybe take the melody and make that a bass part and construct from there. Or take a really well known song and work it out backwards and construct from there. Messing around with the time signature is a corker. I house my virtual instruments in Cubase and there, you can set any time signature that exists. All kinds of strange ones like 7/4, 9/8, 12/8, 8/8 {not the same as 4/4, I was surprised to discover}, 13/8 etc are great because the more you follow the metronome in those exotic times, the more normal they start to sound and at that point, musical parts and lines start to fit into those signatures. The sky is the limit.
I also have no shame in recycling parts of songs I've already written, just in a different context. I might use a lyric {or part of one} that I've already used, just to completely different music or I might use a chord sequence or bass part or guitar line or brass riff and breathe new life into it by putting it in a new arrangement. I do that often with drum parts. I might write a song and because none of my drumming friends are around at the time, I'll go to different sets of drum tracks that have been laid down over the years and see what can fit to my new piece or what can be manipulated to fit.


Tell yourself that the goal is not to write, or just forget about writing. Play your instrument for the joy. In other words, don't set out to write. I think many great songs weren't taken seriously in the beginning, just some small idea while tinkering. You might end up writing a song when you didn't intend to. Don't dismiss the very simple, goofy ideas.


If only for a moment.....
Don't dismiss the very simple, goofy ideas.
This is my philosophy ~ every idea {or almost every idea} can be fashioned into a song if you can be bothered. I'm forever working on songs that started life as maybe 3 stupid notes or just a phrase or an obscure line. Then I nurture them and they eventually grow up to surprise their daddy !


COO of me, inc.
Sticking with it and plowing through. I've actually broken through on at least one song I've been blocked on..

I've got a backlog of originals written on acoustic with just me singing. My plan has been to work them all up with electric guitar, bass, drums, maybe some additional vocals and keys. It's been dragging.

Well today I started humming one of them, one I've been banging my head on for more than a few years. In the past, I'd record a rhythm track and... get stuck. I have difficulty writing bass parts for my own material - other than just on the beat stuff. That's too boring so I put it away for awhile. I can usually improvise quite well on other people's music.. not mine.

Today I actually got creative improvising a bass line to that song. I redid a rhythm track and added my new bass track, which still needs work, but it's miles ahead of where I was. Everything is sloppy, but now I can throw in some basic drum grooves and start polishing.

I've broken through, to this point anyway.


COO of me, inc.
After years of writer's block on this one, I have finally been able to write a bass line for this song. This guitar & bass render are the raw tracks, except for a little compression on the way out for bass as it was a bit wooly. Let me know how you think the bass fits in here.


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Eric V

Active member
After years of writer's block on this one, I have finally been able to write a bass line for this song. This guitar & bass render are the raw tracks, except for a little compression on the way out for bass as it was a bit wooly. Let me know how you think the bass fits in here.
nice bass lines imo