Tongue untied: 8 tips for ending the dreaded songwriter’s block

As a parent, it can sometimes feel as though we are stuck in a rut, like our parenting juices have run dry and there’s nothing left to give. Our search for inspiration and motivation leads to nothing but frustration.

Experience tells us that we will eventually return to the land of parenting milk and honey, where our energy is unlimited and our creativity abounds, but sometimes it feels soooo far away.

Likewise, as musicians, there are times when we simply cannot do what comes naturally to us: create. More specifically, we cannot write songs. Any songs. At all.

Songwriter’s block is an incredibly frustrating problem that eventually afflicts every songwriter. It can be incredibly demoralizing, even to the point of convincing some musicians that they should walk away from music and pursue something else.  

The good news? This dreaded blockage of creativity is fixable. You can break the dam and allow your creative juices to flow freely, and you can do it as soon as today. 

Here are 8 ways to end songwriter’s block and get you once again writing the songs you want and need to write: 

1. Focus on a repeated chord progression instead of lyrics.

If you’re trying to write the perfect lyrics but keep coming up empty, ditch that approach and try looping a chord progression. The repetition will allow you to try several melody and lyrical ideas in a short amount of time.

Something good should come from doing that, putting you right back in the songwriting groove. 

2. Think of your song as a story.

As a songwriter, one of your goals should be to discover a clear headspace in which to write. Instead of cluttering your head with the frustration and anxiety that come from trying to create the perfect melody or lyrics, develop a storyline that you can build upon.

Use this storyline to introduce characters, a setting, and a message. Before you know it, you’ll have created a brand new world that is the perfect setting for your song. 

3. Picture in your mind a specific time and place, and start from there.

Think of a place that you’re familiar with, or make one up from scratch. What do you see there? What do you hear there? Who is there with you?

Your answers to these questions will function as the starting point for your song. Sometimes knowing that you actually have a starting point is all you need to get started. 

4. Focus on an exceptionally emotional personal experience from your past. 

This sounds obvious, right? Too often, though, songwriters try to imagine the perfect story idea for a song, when their own personal experience will work just fine.

Tapping into an emotional event from your past will ignite the fires of your creativity, which will hopefully lead to a deluge of song ideas. 

5. Listen to songs that inspire you. 

We all have those handful of tunes that always inspire us. Return to the songs that first motivated you to pick up an instrument.

There is a very good chance that the inspiration you feel simply by hearing these songs again will put you in the right frame of mind for writing your own tunes. 

6. Change your setting. 

Sometimes the same old same old can suck the life out of you.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been somewhere new, perhaps it’s time for a different setting. Go somewhere new, refresh your mind, and watch as the change in scenery jumpstarts your creativity.

A revived sense of creativity ought to be enough to end your songwriter’s block. 

7. Write from somebody else’s perspective.

Sometimes getting out of your own skin and seeing things from somebody else’s perspective can do wonders for your creativity.

It can open up a new world in which you are free to explore new and exciting points of view. It can make you feel emotions that you might not have felt previously.

All these new thoughts and feelings are sure to spark something in you, something that could very well knock down the wall that stands between you and your next album’s worth of songs. 

8. Borrow song structures from other songwriters. 

Trying too hard to reinvent the wheel is often the cause of songwriter’s block. Hence, sometimes you just have to ditch trying to be completely original, and accept the fact that most of the greatest songs ever written follow somewhat similar structures.

Identify the structures of some of your favorite songs, and then mimic them as you attempt to write your own song.

Having a tried and true basic song structure from which to write makes it easier for you to create your own melodies and lyrics.

Borrowing song structures from other songwriters (particularly from your songwriting heroes) just might be the trick to ending your songwriter’s block.  


What tricks do you recommend to someone struggling with songwriter’s block? Share your suggestions in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.

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