Call it a break, call it a slump—everyone gets those periods of time when they don’t feel as productive. Breaks are essential, but at some point, we might want to get back to writing. Sometimes the answer isn’t as simple as forcing ourselves to do the work; that might mean we write once, but the habit doesn’t come back. We like habitual writing on this blog. 🙂
Here are a few suggestions to get back on track to writing regularly.
Write a Terrible Song
I know that I dread writing if I’ve got in my head that I need to write a *great* song. Instead, rip off the band-aid: write a truly awful, terrible song and get it out of the way!
Don’t Rush / Do Rush
Using a timer is a great way to just get back to writing, even if the song is terrible. This can be really fun with a co-writer, too. If this works for you and you know it will help, do that.
Contrarily, you don’t have to rush your way out of a slump. A break is a very good idea if you’ve been struggling or if you’re exhausted. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re writing for the right reasons (which will vary for everyone). Write down those reasons and refer back to them whenever you need to.
Set Attainable Goals
When we take a break, we literally break the flow of writing. Check the expectations you have for your writing; perhaps you were writing a song a week, but when getting back into writing, you need to write a song every two weeks. Alternatively, you might need to just focus on the first step of writing. Try just writing one section, or just a riff for your song.
Prioritize Writing Again
If you write a little bit every day, just naturally gravitating towards it, but that’s changed after a slump? You may need to start setting aside time to write. By making the habit, your brain will start to get in the flow of it again.
Consume What You Create
Listening to music is immensely important to how inspired I feel. By listening to my favourite songs or just whatever is on the radio, our brains will probably automatically analyze the music, catch onto favourite lyrics and think about songwriting in general.
Create a Sense of Progress
A sense of progress can feel quite important when we are learning a craft. In the beginning, it is easier to feel a sense of progress because we are constantly learning new songwriting tricks. After a while, we may need to create the sense of progress to feel like we are moving forwards. A couple of ways to do this:
1. Use a list to check off different songwriting ideas and prompts you’ve tried
2. Go through some songwriting books and textbooks and make notes
3. Get feedback on your songs or take songwriting lessons
Celebrate the Small Achievements, Too
Going off the last point: creating a positive feedback loop can be essential to get back on track, since the slump may have been caused by not realizing the progress you’ve made. You don’t have to have thousands or millions of plays on Spotify. You don’t have to win competitions or awards to make progress.
Every song you write is progress. Celebrate every song you finish.