Updated: Oct 5, 2019
Becoming a successful and strong songwriter takes a lot of practise and as it's such a creative role, it can without a doubt overpower your mind and lead to a writers block.
In a previous Songwriting Tip post, I've appointed how important it is to sometimes walk away and refresh your creative heart when writing starts to become a chore instead of what it's meant to be, a passion.
From these posts, it's led quite a few songwriters to ask when to persist through it vs when you know it's time to look after yourself, as writers don't want to feel as though they're just giving up when things start to get tough.
Just like with any day to day job, some days are much more strenuous than others and it gets to the middle of the year and you know it's time to book a holiday - but add creative jobs onto this, where people and your own selves put pressure to come up with a create melody, lyric or track. Some sessions are just going to be average and you will walk away knowing you didn't achieve anything, sadly that's part of not only songwriting growth, but career growth. Though always know, round the corner you'll get a great session that has inspired you for the rest of the week or month.
This is an example of persisting, as even the greatest most successful songwriters out there are not able to write a SMASH every single day through the year. I'm certain, like with every writer, they have a back-catalogue of song demos that haven't been touched in years purely because they're not great and perhaps was written as part of their off-days, or working with the wrong co-writers or the vibe in the session was miserable or awkward. Practicing and pushing yourself through the bad sessions and bad demo days will 100% make you blossom into an incredible songwriter and 'quitting' when the strong songs aren't being written will only make you stay at the same level having not experienced the off days. Fun fact: Every single writer needs to experience writing a bunch of awful songs in order to understand why they're awful, to then write great songs.
So what about when it's time to take a well-deserved break? Any artist or writer that has dealt with the dreaded creative block understands how heavy it can be on your self-esteem, mental health as well as questioning why you should even bother pursuing music as a career. These are the moments that I always suggest talking time for yourself - walk away, listen to your favourite classic hits to inspire you or even, surprising to some, do anything that is non-music related. Book a trip, spend time with friends & family, head to the gym regularly, play your favourite sports.
When your career and mind is all pressurised around music, it's only natural that sometimes it will get to a point that music drives you insane and all you want to do is... Anything but music. It's called being a person!
If someone were going through a block and felt as though they needed to 'persist' through it otherwise they'll feel demotivated, they're wrong. It'll prolong your negativity and you'll only stall improvement. So you want to get better? Look after yourself and come back when you feel that inspiration coming back to you - and when you know it's back, you'll know.
Perhaps you're going through a creative block yourself and I hope nothing more than this inspires you to know that once you come back to music, you'll only be stronger with a much healthier mindset.
Those who are going through the bad sessions and coming out with useless songs - I can assure you that if you keep pushing yourself through these moments and still give each day all your effort, then in one year or a few years time you'll be listening back to your old demos seeing how much you've grown. That's the best inspiration of all.