Just call me ‘Chelsea The Songwriting Plumber’ because I just unblocked a 6 month blockage. Boom! (This sounds weird…)
I haven’t written a song in 6 months, and I’ve hated it. It’s not that I haven’t tried and haven’t wanted to, I just haven’t been able to. I would sit down with my favourite songwriting book and a cool pen, but nothing would happened. I’ve felt like the world’s worst songwriter because the world’s best songwriters never clog up. They have a never ending flow of song ideas, even if they don’t end up being used or are no good. I haven’t even had one idea. I tried writing in LA – cause I mean, it’s LA – but I had nothin’. Nothin’! I’m not sure if my blockage was due to being super busy, or I subconsciously closed my mind off to it, or had nothing I wanted to say, or I was in a bad mind frame. I’m not sure. But the moment I got on that plane to LAX, songs stopped coming to me. Maybe it went into airplane mode and I forgot to turn it off again.
My usual tactics for unblocking hadn’t worked.
- Watch a Disney movie
- Listen to my favourite albums
- Watch a live concert DVD
- Walk on the beach
- Go for a swim (pool or ocean – I’m not picky)
- Do yoga
Trying those out had actually made it worse. I just got angry. I started to spiral into I’m never going to have an album or live show and Why am I wasting my time in the ocean? It was a weird time. I hated that nothing was coming out because that just doesn’t happen to me anymore. I hadn’t gone through writer’s block since I was attending a music academy and was told I was a bad songwriter and singer. It took me almost a year to get it flowing again after that. So I stopped trying. I hid my songwriting book in a drawer and left my guitar all by itself in the corner. I’ve been busy performing, blogging, and making YouTube videos like my 12 Days Of Songs series and song mashup videos. And I’ve loved it. But suddenly, months had passed and I hadn’t written anything original. Though I was doing lots of creative things every single day, it wasn’t songwriting.
Then yesterday came around. I woke up, had breakfast and went about my usual routine. I sat down in my office/studio to start my day working on some secret projects, then looked over to see my cat doing this…
I’m not sure what it was about his hilarious stance as he death stared my interface, but I laughed so hard my cheeks hurts, turned back towards my laptop, and said to myself “I need to write a song” – something I haven’t felt at all lately. Maybe it was the interface by his cute little nose, or the guitars behind him or the keyboard on the desk, but I had the overwhelming urge to write a song for the first time in so long. I was just happy that I wanted to write a song and didn’t expect to actually write one.
Then, Oscar jumped on my desk and just stood there staring at me…
I felt like he was saying – or meowing – “write a song already!”So not wanting to let my cat down, I closed my eyes, sat back and thought “OK. Clear your mind. Relax”, which I had tried a hundred times but it had never worked. But a few seconds later, BAM – a song idea hit me like a tonne of bricks – or something less violent like a tonne of cats. I have absolutely no idea what triggered it. I wasn’t even thinking about anything! All I was thinking was how I needed to not think. How strange is that? I think the idea was in there the whole time, it was just trapped. Literal blockage. Maybe it was relaxing for a second and not clogging up my brain with other creative thoughts, or maybe it was the heat wave we’ve had in Brisbane that melted the blockage out of my brain. I don’t know.
But I started typing vigorously and wrote the lyrics almost from start to finish instantly, like I’d known the song my whole life. I picked up my guitar that had gathered a bit too much dust, played around with some chords for all of 60 seconds before I had a chord progression that sounded the way I heard the song in my head. And my nemesis – melodies – didn’t even put up that much of a fight. Before I knew it, it was done – less than half an hour after Oscar entered the room.
So things I’ve learnt about writer’s block:
- You never know what will trigger a blockage
- You never know what will trigger an unblockage
- There’s not one particular thing that causes a blockage
- Your usual songwriting inspiration methods don’t always work
- Turning off your brain from all creative things can help
- It can start flowing again at any second
- Don’t give up on it – no matter how long it’s been
- Songwriting is so random
- Cats really should be around to help, though they aren’t always available due to their busy schedule of napping, eating and being lazy.
Another thing I’ve learnt is to never stop filming your cat because you never know when he will do something funny.
I don’t know if it’s permanently unblocked. I sure hope so. But if not, I feel like I might have a better chance of unblocking it faster next time. I’m just happy that I’ve finally written again. Do you have any tips for unblocking writer’s block?
Chat again soon, ❤ Chels
P.S. We celebrated by watching a Disney movie on the couch together.