Songwriter U: 3 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Written by Jody Friedman
Music Supervisor & Founder, LicenseYourMusic.com

Writer’s block happens to all of us. What I’m calling writer’s block can also be called producer’s block, creative block, etc. It’s when the flow of energy that we use to create gets disrupted and we lose the motivation or inspiration to keep creating. As artists, our moods heavily dictate our creative process. When we’re having an off day, those moods can inhibit us from creating or wanting to create. That’s why when we’re “in the zone,” it can be so disruptive to be interrupted because it takes a lot of mental power to get into the “zone”.

There are things I’ve learned to do over the years to help overcome those situations. Today, I want to share those with you.

1. Create micro-challenges

Micro challenges are small challenges you can set up for yourself to get out of your comfort zone and inspire you. If we get in the habit of doing the same thing over and over again it becomes mundane and redundant. With music licensing, I’ve found that it’s great to reference music that pushes the envelope.  In order for you to create music like that, you’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and try things that you normally wouldn’t try.

So what would a micro challenge look like? Let’s say you’re a hip-hop producer and you’ve never tried playing country or rock. Do it. Pick up a banjo and play a few notes and maybe incorporate that into one of your beats. It may sound a bit odd at first, but you’d be surprised how many good songs are born out of odd, out-of-the-box choices. Maybe the reverse is true. Maybe you’re a country artist and you’ve never done hip-hop. Give it a try. Try writing a hip-hop topline or producing a hip-hop beat.  Study the genre, the phrasing, and the instrumentation, and give it a go.

It’s also important to keep these challenges small just like their name. If you give yourself a challenge that isn’t attainable, that can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve with your creative block.   

Here’s a sync licensing micro challenge for you to try today. Watch three TV shows that you like and LISTEN to the music they use. Then, research them on IMDB, Tunefind, or whatsong.com. Find out what type of music they use throughout the season. The task is to find artists that are producing records similar to the ones you are producing. If you find a show that uses a lot of Drake and your records sound like Drake’s, then chances are, your music could be a fit for that show. And if that’s what you find, then you should reach out to the music supervisor of that show. If you need help on how to craft that email, I’ve created email templates that are rough guides for you to follow. There are many different approaches to take and these email templates cover them all.

2. Join an online course.  

When I was in college, there were tons of classes I took that I didn’t like and that I would sleep through. If there was a subject I loved, I would wake up. Joining an online course can really help you get inspired by those who are teaching and the community taking the course with you. Whether it’s a course about mixing, songwriting, music licensing, or what have you, it can invigorate, inspire, and educate you again so you can move forward and create. 

(You can learn more about my music licensing course at www.LicenseYourMusic.com)

3. Have a plan. 

Write up a plan for the next three months. It can be a bullet list of to-dos that you want to accomplish within those three months. Type it up or handwrite it. Having a plan will help you break free of writer’s block because it will give you a deadline for when you have to accomplish that goal. For example, one goal could be writing three songs a week for the next three months. If it evolves where you are only writing 2 songs a week or maybe one because of circumstances, don’t worry about it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Dial it back. Change it.  Cross off the three songs and change it down to two songs a week.  Goals are not written in stone. They are moveable targets that you try to hit.

With these small steps, you can break free of writer’s block. You have to constantly be exercising that musical muscle if you want to write songs that are going to get licensed. The artists that write constantly are the ones that get licensed the most.  When you break free of that writer’s block and keep going, you’ll find success when you license your music.


About Jody:

Jody Friedman is the founder of License Your Music (www.licenseyourmusic.com), an online coaching solution for musicians wanting to learn how to build a thriving career in Music Licensing.

Jody is an active Music Supervisor for Film, TV & Ads, and as a Music Publisher, Record Label Owner, Sync Agent & Creator.  Since 2008, he’s licensed over 10,000 songs to hundreds of projects and grossed over $1.75M in license fees and over $500k in royalties.

Jody serves as Music Supervisor for ASICS Shoes as well as other music supervision projects including projects such as “Ugly Delicious “ (Netflix), “Breakfast Lunch Dinner” (Netflix), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” (Focus Features),  “Ingress: The Animation” (Netflix), “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead” (Netflix), Fear, Inc (Lone Suspect), “The Music Of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble (HBO + The Orchard) & more.

Photo by Gettyimages.com

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