Up until about two weeks ago I never quite understood what the term ‘writer’s block’ meant. Well, I knew what it “literally” meant, but I never experienced it before. I was always pretty lucky when it came to writing lyrics for my songs.
I remember a few years back, someone asked me, “How do you write lyrics with so much feeling?” And I distinctly remember saying, (because it was something that I repeated often) “Well, my lyrics stem from my experiences.” I was being honest, 98% of the lyrics I wrote was a result of whatever I was going through at the time.
Whether it was a break-up, a new love interest, or a dysfunctional family member – my lyrics flowed freely and effortlessly without having to really put any effort into it. I was pretty proud of that, but I knew that method wouldn’t last forever – I mean, how many experiences could I write about before actually running out of experiences?
So I taught myself how to role-play when writing my lyrics. Kind of like an actor playing a part. The subjects I wrote about varied between fun & cute to dark & morbid. I loved the freedom I felt with the newfound style of writing I had.
Fast forward to last month.
I found myself staring at an almost complete set of lyrics. Almost complete. I nearly finished writing lyrics for a beautiful piece of music but found myself stuck on the last 4 lines. I sat there for what seemed like an hour or more. I was staring at the screen so intensely as if the lyrics were going to start writing themselves.
Eventually, my tired eyes started blurring and I felt this really uneasy feeling in my gut. I felt defeated, disappointed in myself. I mean, I sat there for an hour, totally blank, completely void. How the hell did I manage to write an “almost” entire song, but can’t even utilize my brain to write the last 4 lines? I’m a Scrabble player, so words are like candy to me – but I couldn’t even put together 4 lines!!!
After a few hours of feeling like a washed up dish rag, it dawned on me.
Why don’t I just reach out to one of my fellow musician pals? Hec, if anyone could help me, it would definitely be one of my lyricist friends. But I thought, “No, no, no, no, nooooooo – this is my song, and I’m going to finish it myself!” Then I starting thinking about an article that Lee wrote (shameless plug) called, “Better Music from Collaboration”, which basically talks about the benefits of collaborating. But, but, but…could I trust someone with my lyrics?
What if I ask and they help me, and I hate it? Do I just lie and say it’s awesome?!?! Ugh, my brain was hurting from the thought of it. This madness went on for 2 more days.
I couldn’t stand it anymore, the song needed to be finished and I was going to do whatever it took to get it done. I decided to reach out to one of my musician friends, who happened to be someone I have collaborated with before. A brilliant lyricist in his own right, so I knew if anyone could help me, it would be him. I took a couple of deep breaths and sent him a message explaining what I needed help with, along with a link to the song/lyrics. He responded within minutes saying he liked what he’d heard/read and to give him some time to figure it out.
No more than 5 minutes after his first message, he sent another message with the 4 lyric lines. I stared at them for a few minutes and thought, “how the hell did he write this in 5 minutes, they’re perfect?” No really, how was this even possible? I spent 2 days tearing my hair out trying to figure out these 4 lines, meanwhile, he writes them in 5 minutes??
I took a few deep breaths because really, I felt such a relief.
I was impressed, surprised, confused, and amazed, all at once – so I wrote back and thanked him a million times over. He laughed and said it was no big deal, and that the song was already written, he just added 4 lines. HA, ‘just 4 lines’ I thought to myself. It was soooo much more than just 4 lines to me; it was the glue that bound everything together.
I am giggling as I write this, but I can honestly say that I was a blathering mess for 2 days. It’s pretty hard to believe that I felt so distraught over having writer’s block. Geez, talk about First World Problems! It was definitely an experience that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. And should it ever happen again, I’ll have the confidence to just reach out for some help.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, feel free to share your story, I’d love to hear it!