Writing a hit song can take a lot of graft. When you hit a wall, it can drive you crazy, and sometimes it can feel like you’re never going to finish a song. Trying to write, when the ideas or motivation just isn’t there, can be frustrating.
We have put together a guide to help get out of that rut, including some great advice from producer Kamikwazi.
Firstly, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself
We all do it. The scope of competition in the music industry is ever growing and success doesn’t happen overnight. So, having faith in yourself and letting go of fear is key. As Elizabeth Gilbert has said: “You do not need your fear in the realm of creative expression.”
Take Bowie, for example, he was rejected by the BBC at 18 before his rise to fame. He was even called ‘devoid of personality’. Yet he went on to become one of the most influential and iconic stars of popular culture.
So, keep grafting, no matter how many setbacks you have.
Go Back To Basics
“Instead of using my speakers and all this fancy equipment, I just grab my laptop and try to play the most basic chords and use sounds and samples I’ve never used before.”
“I time myself for 15 minutes with each try, then after an hour or two I go back and listen to all the tries and definitely one of them will sound cool.”
Apps can be great for inspiration, they are very accessible and many of them are free!
A stand out app is ‘Destroy writer’s block forever’ Word Palette it provides a great start to generating ideas, It’s free on iOS and has an infinite amount of words.
You can select words that you like, build poetry and even import words from your favorite songs, books, and articles.
For more on songwriting, apps, check out our blog post here.
“I find random words, for example – love, then I write down on paper everything that has to do with ‘love’… everything. From there I click the record button and freestyle into the mic, reading any one of those words, or sentences I wrote about love. This will help with melodies and lyrics.”
In some form, every song is influenced by other songs. Our music taste can shape and develop our sound, the music we listen to lives in our subconscious forever!
So, listen to as much music as you can! Open yourself up to a variety of genres and listen to something you wouldn’t usually listen to.
This is not just limited to music, listening to the sounds around you in everyday life can spark inspiration and can be recorded on your phone and be used as a sample.
Record Your Ideas, No Matter How Embarrassing
“What I normally do when I have a block is listen to the voice notes I’ve recorded, I record at least 3 to 4 voice notes ideas per day.”
“No matter how embarrassing it is to be recording in public sometimes, it could help when you run out of ideas. So always record, any ideas you get.”
Write and record whatever comes out, whenever it comes to you!
Remember, when using your phone, it’s so easy to go back, edit, delete and re-write sections, so don’t worry about how raw your ideas are!
Take A Break
This may sound obvious but the worst possible thing to do when you’ve hit a wall is to force yourself through it. Creativity never comes when forced. Take a break, from thinking, from writing and disengage from your project. It can be hard finding the solution to the problem especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
Distance yourself from it and come back to it later with a fresh pair of ears and/or eyes, which will allow you to see it from a different perspective, seeing what works and what doesn’t.
Get Someone Else’s Perspective
Getting feedback is important, however difficult it may be to hear sometimes. Collaborating or jamming can help you to generate ideas to get past that ‘stuck’ stage.
Read our blog post on how to ask for feedback on your music.
Think Outside The Box
Try to explore unconventional ways of creating. Electronic music producer Porter Robinson came up with the Japanese sounding sample on his track ‘Flicker’, by taking several song ideas that he had written on his phone and translating them into Japanese!
Try the ‘cut-up’ technique for lyric inspiration
David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and Bob Dylan are among those who used the cut-up method to write their lyrics. It worked by putting words onto a page then literally cutting it all up. Then you put it all back together again in a new way. Similarly, Thom Yorke wrote the lyrics for ‘Kid A’ by literally pulling them, line-by-line out of a hat.
For further help on lyrics read our post here.
Did any of these tips/techniques work for you? We’d love to hear your stories.