Music Talks Education Center: Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a topic that so many people have written articles on over the years. It’s a topic that I believe will rise more and more to the surface. My reasons for feeling this way are that we have entered the “information” era; our minds are jammed with loads of digital information, then add to it our daily workloads, family responsibilities topped off with a scoop of fun, a sprinkle of social life and our brain’s capacity has pretty much reached its tipping point! Think back when you wrote your best songs. Try to remember where you were in your life and what you were doing. Most of all try hard to remember how you felt during that period. I’m talking about the two songs that everyone who heard them said “damn, that’s a great song!”


How do we remove writers block? How do we get back to opening our minds to hearing the music once again? There are so many different ways. I will share with you in this article what I do. I believe the first thing that should be looked at is the disconnection between the brain and the soul. Everything humans create comes from the soul. If you don’t believe you have a soul, that’s ok, please insert whatever you believe is the inner nucleus of your creations and if you’re not writing songs or creating something, it’s being blocked!


Writer’s block happens when there is a divorce between the soul and the physical body. This separation creates a lack of communication or disconnection between the body and the intellectual mind. If the body does not feel what the soul is saying, then the mind cannot interpret and process the feeling. Think about it just for a moment. Whenever you’ve created a song or played your best performance either live or in studio or just sitting in your room, think about what happened. Something deep inside inspired you, your body began to feel it. It’s different for each of us, for me I get goose bumps all over. If I continue to go with the feeling, the next think I notice is my mind trying to interpret, process and understand what my soul is creating and my body is feeling. That tends to be the difficult part for me, getting my brain to understand! However, once it kicks in, it’s a done deal, a new song is being born! When the soul is no longer able to communicate its feelings to the body we don’t feel the soul and there’s simply nothing for the brain to process. What’s creating the block? Too much input and thinking, yes I know I just asked you to “think different” in my last article! I guess the best way to explain this is there is a time and a place to think. Creating music is not one of those times, creating has very little to do with thinking. It has everything to do with “feeling.” However, make sure that when it’s time to think, that you “think different.” If you are constantly flooding your mind with thought and daily life input from ipods, computers, Pro Tools, cell phones, Logic and life drama, you can’t expect to create. If your mind is racing all the time thinking about stuff, it can’t connect with your body. It’s too preoccupied to listen out for body signals, “your feelings,” which in turn are messages from your soul, “your music and much more!” This is the formation of what we call writer’s block.


I don’t get writers block as much as I used to even though my brain is working so much more now then ever in my life! I figured I would have writer’s block all of the time these days. But when I asked myself “how come I don’t get writers block anymore?” I had no answer at the time. So I began looking once again into “me.” What I discovered was my brain just never stopped! It had been this way since I was six years old. I’d go to bed each night hearing music in my head, drum patterns, bass lines, string parts, you name it I heard it. Adding to that was constant inner talk and as I got older my dad who was an intellectual, drilled into my head to “think,” “think David, use your brain!” I became such a thinker that I could not shut my brain off.


As I got older and life situations hit me from all sides, it just gave me more to think about and now worry about! There was an all out assault on me and I was not even conscious of it! The only time my brain stopped was when I was asleep. At the end of each day I was tired not because I did physical labor, but because I was thinking “hard” during every second of the day. The radio in my head shut off, something I thought could never happen. I had no feelings about much of anything and I did not write a song for ten years! When I looked into myself and asked why am I not writing songs, my first answer was the radio shut off.  I now had to find out why it shut off. That’s when I began looking at how I was feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually. More so I started looking at what and how I was thinking. I started to connect the dots!  Once I looked at my entire picture and understood what I was doing to myself, I was then able to compare current life with life past. What I discovered in the comparison allowed me to devise a method that resulted in fewer blocked moments or none at all. These days it’s close to none at all.


Warning, this exercise requires momentarily revisiting your past. “Living” in the past or the “future” does not promote good mental or emotional health. But limiting use of these gifts can help you – in present day – reconnect with health promoting feelings and thoughts that are temporarily misplaced.



What did I do? I started to remember how I felt when I was living at home with my parents. What was my life like back then? All I had to do was go to school, do my homework, hang out with my friends and play my bass. I said to my self, “maybe if I go back and recreate in my mind the feelings of those days, I might be able to spark something inside that would feel like those days when I was a songwriting machine.”


I’d remember the times when I would come home from school as fast as I could because a friend told me that they heard a new Commodores, Brothers Johnson, Earth Wind and Fire or Stanley Clarke song on the radio. If I had not heard it yet I’d get home as fast as I could after school, turn on the radio and sit on the edge of my bed playing my bass waiting for the dj to announce the group’s latest single. Everything inside of me was on fire! Goose bumps were up and down my arms and legs when the song finally played.


I was in the moment of that song on the radio. Nothing else around me existed; all I saw in front of my eyes was a white sheet and the feel of the wood and strings of my bass guitar!  I remembered that much of the time right after hearing the song and while the inspiration, feeling and excitement was still in me, I’d begin playing my bass, or I’d go down stairs and play the piano. I’d have a ton of new songs, melodies lyrics grooves in my head coming out so fast and so much I often could not keep up with them. I would turn on my cassette player and just play my instrument and sing whatever words came out to capture the creative moment. I had no conscience clue during those days what was going on in this creative process. All I knew was that I loved music, the recording artists of that era, songwriting, my bass guitar and my life!


It was clear to me that to recreate those moments today was the answer to knocking down my writer’s block. I tried it, I sat on the edge of my bed, pulled out Stanley Clarke’s School Days, put my headphones on, closed my eyes and allowed it to take me back to those days. Before I knew it, I was reaching for my bass to play along with the record. I could not stop myself from grabbing my guitar. This went on for hours just like when I was back home with my parents. The good side to this was I no longer had my parents telling me to “turn it down!” Almost immediately my thinking stopped. I was totally conscience and in the moment of the music and playing my bass. Present day issues, worries and tasks were gone. I was able to feel and process new music. I had reconnected my soul, body and mind. The goose bumps returned, reassuring me that all was not lost just temporarily disconnected.


This exercise freed my mind of present day clutter allowing me to remove thinking from the process and feel what my creative spirit is trying to create. My creative vision, and clarity soon returned and along with them came the grooves, melodies, lyrics and songs. This works for me.  Discover your method; ask the questions, “what’s going on with me? Why am I not creating now? Is there something going on in my life that’s forcing me to think in over time?” Only you know. Once you find out develop a way to reconnect. Feel free to use my method. Writer’s block is not just one of those things that we recording artists and creative people go through and have to deal with. Like most challenges in life it’s a consequence of years of ignoring you, it can be reversed!


David Knight

Music Talks Educational Network
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