Causes, Symptoms, and How to Overcome Songwriters Block

Even the best songwriters experience and struggle with songwriters block at some point in their musical journey, and the process of breaking it can be quite elusive and often individualistic.

But, it doesn’t always have to be.

With a better understanding on what causes it, as well as the symptoms that we can associate with it, there are some tried and true tips that can help overcome songwriters block.

Common Causes of Songwriters Block

Anybody who strives for creativity will have moments when the creativity doesn’t strike at all. While it can often be a struggle, songwriters block is normal. It simply happens when the brain needs a break from all the creating and composing.

While this case can be caused by various factors as well as events, there are two main causes that blocks a songwriter’s creative streak: one is technical while the other is psychological.

1) Violating the Principles of a Good Musical Composition Constantly

The flaw in writing technique has its negative effects, but it takes time before you feel it. You might wonder at a later point, after you have composed several tracks, why it all ended in failure.

2) Fear of Failure and Not Quite Achieving Perfection

In the quest to create something that a large audience of people might like or relate to, achieving perfection can be quite hard.

Oftentimes, it can cause burnout that ultimately causes a songwriter to lose that creativity spark.

Adding that to the loss of confidence and fear of failure, and not all songwriters can handle the stress.

Typical Symptoms of Songwriters Block

The first step you have to do to overcome songwriters block is to identify the cause. It can often boil down to various negative emotions such as self-judgement, fear, and anxiety. Recognize if songwriters’ block’s basic symptoms apply or are happening to you.

  • You lack the inspiration to start or finish writing a song. Creativity stems from inspiration the writer feels inside, and without it, there is simply no song to write.
  • The latest song you composed sounds quite similar to the one you finished before it. If you think that the song you just finished seems like the last song you created, then most probably, you are stuck.
  • You have a problem of getting stuck in the middle of the song you started. Sometimes, it can be hard to start a song. However, it is equally struggling to get stuck in the middle of it.
  • Your mind goes blank and you haven’t the slightest idea how to start your new song. It can either be caused by a lack of inspiration or a lack of drive for creating.
  • Your musical ideas are flying out of nowhere, but they’re so disorganized and they seem like a collection of pieces from different songs. Creativity somewhat looks a little messy, but behind it, is a unique order of things. However, if you can’t seem to keep your ideas in line, that might be a symptom that your stuck.
  • You’re at a point when you’re feeling pressure writing your next song because you already feel that it will be a failure.

How to Get Over Your Songwriters Block

Focus on Starting with a Riff

Every songwriter wants to create something meaningful and deep that will affect a lot of people in the best way. But that can be a real problem when you have writer’s block, as the words and even the right melody just won’t come out, and it can get frustrating.

Whenever this happens, it might be better to shift your focus on starting simply with a riff instead of the melody.

You can make a riff-based composition like “A Night Like This” by Caro Emerald or “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson.

Forget About Perfection

Striving for perfection can often help you achieve the results that you want, which is, in this case, the best composition you can make. However, always working towards perfection can also cause burnout and will ultimately lead to writer’s block.

Always taking the time to critique your work can get you away from a creative mindset, and you need as much creativity to finish your composition.

When you start writing, forget perfection. Instead, try to develop your creativity rather than being technical with your work.

Use Reference Tracks

One of the ways you can find inspiration to finish a current song or start a new one and get over your songwriters’ block is to practice active listening. It is simply listening to music without merely enjoying it for entertainment purposes, as you also have to listen to the tracks with an analytical approach. In this case, what you will need are reference tracks.

You can study pre-existing songs, or a piece from an artist that is similar to what you wish to compose and use that piece as a reference for some ideas.

First, you can dissect the structure of the track and take note of the number of bars for each section of the song or gather anything you can use as the basic structure for your composition.

Then, you can also study that instrumentation from the reference track for every section to give you as many musical ideas to jumpstart your song writing as you need.

Get Organized

Clutter can often hinder your creativity, keeping you from being focused and thinking clearly. Oftentimes, writer’s block can be caused by the inability to keep your thoughts and writing efforts in order.

For this, you can start decluttering your mind and writing space. Then, outline your ideas and record all your thoughts.

Getting organized can help you gain peace of mind, thus helping you stay focused on writing your music.

Get Out and Do Something You Wouldn’t Normally Do

Mulling over an unfinished song might not help you in the best way. Without inspiration, you won’t get it done and staying glued to a sheet of paper will not magically help you create the next best song. What you need is the drive and inspiration that seclusion won’t give you.

Most cases of songwriters’ block are simply caused by a lack of inspiration. To overcome this, you have to get out more.

Going to a new city or even a new country and experiencing new things can be quite inspiring. The same can be achieved from talking to strangers or from learning a new hobby. There is always a whole new world to experience and inspirations to chase.

go outdoor for a change


At some point, every songwriter can get writer’s block. Similarly, everyone can also have different ways to overcome it. If you have songwriters block, there’s no reason to fret too much. All you need to do is find your inspiration the best way you think you know how.