beat writer's block

Let this be your most creative season, not your driest: How to beat writer’s block

Let unforeseen circumstances become your new creative break: How to beat writer’s block  

“There is no set way to write a song, either they come or they don’t?”

Do you agree?

Everyone has had that “Where-did-that-come-from?” moment after finishing a song.  You are hit with the reality that what you just created is going to be something special, something that touches people. Where does that creativity come from? 

Some songs just come to you but only if you exercise those creative muscles. This blog is the ultimate guide to getting over writer’s block and getting your creative juices flowing.

1. Listen to The Instrument

If the guitar feels like it wants a sad song from the chords you randomly started messing with, then make it a sad song. Your job is to sit with your instrument and play. Whether that’s a guitar, piano, MPC or just a laptop. Focus on your input and don’t try to force the output.

Your instrument will lead you in the right direction. Don’t think, just go with the flow

2. Make Mistakes

Try a new instrument or a new technique. Technical proficiency does not matter. What we are doing here is getting your creative juices flowing. We’re not trying to be a master of the cello your first time around. Getting out of your comfort zone is the easiest way to beat writer’s block. 

3. List of Titles

One of the most difficult parts of finishing a song is getting the chorus right. The chorus is what sticks with people and what people sing along to but it’s easy to feel that it’s not quite right. 

Try keeping a long list of titles for songs that you can use as a launching pad for songwriting. Struggling to add lyrics to a nearly finished song? Use these song titles to stir some new ideas. If you are really lost, next time you are riding shotgun look around at building and business titles and right down anything that you think has a nice ring to it.

4. Write in Character

Not every song has to be about the last person that broke your heart or upset you.

You can create a character of your own or choose any existing character and describe how this character moves, talks, acts. Write something from that character’s perspective, how would that character feel, or react to your own circumstances.

 Challenge your friends to come up with a character that you will write a song about.

This technique was famously pioneered by The Beatles, David Bowie and so many others. 

5. Switch Media

Highly recommended to beat writer’s block. The likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer are always attesting to the power that this technique has on boosting their creativity.

Spend time writing poetry or drawing/painting and then go back to songwriting. It can be truly rejuvenating for your songwriting. Creating different kinds of art stimulates different parts of your brain and gives your songwriting brain a rest. These new works of art can also give you great ideas to bring back to your songwriting.

6. Be Transparent when Collaborating

Having an open and trusting relationship with your collaborator is a must. Making art is a very personal act. If you don’t feel comfortable with your collaborator, you’re not going to be effective as a team. 

It’s important to be able to ask for feedback and equally important  to be able to receive that feedback and act on it. For example, let your collaborator hear your song or read your lyrics and ask them “what does it sound like this song is about?”, “what should happen next in this story?” Listen to their response and ask yourself if you agree with them. Try to remove your ego from the equation and write the best possible version of your song.

Lastly!

7. Cut yourself some slack.

Perfectionism can be a very good thing but do not let it keep you from creating. Do not hold back from putting out your art to the masses because you are spending too much time on fine tuning things. Obviously, you know balance, but sometimes it might shock you what people love. You could pour your heart and soul out on one specific track, but it might be that one acoustic track or a song that took you all of 30 min to write that might be your next big break. Be bold and dare to be different, but most importantly put your art out there. 

Keep up the hard work and you’ll beat writer’s block in no time!

Make money from your live streams: 7 virtual tip jar options you should know.

Stay Productive During Quarantine

How Can Artists Stay Productive During Quarantine?

This may be a question you’ve asked yourself, day after day, for the past couple of months. It’s so easy for one Netflix show in the morning to turn into five by lunch. It seems as though there isn’t much of a point to create if you can’t get out in the world and perform. 

We get it, but we refuse to believe it! There are plenty of ways you can stay productive during a time like this. Think about it, you are forced to stay inside and are given more time than ever to hone your craft. Throw unlimited internet access into the equation and the sky’s the limit. 

Here are a couple of ways you can stay productive during this madness:

Get Into a Routine

It’s very important to develop a cadence since there is no daily directive. Even if you are not recording or writing a song every day, it is important to push yourself to at least work on something music-related. A routine will not only provide comfort but it will make sure your creativity isn’t stifled. 

Learn a New Program or Instrument

There’s always one program or instrument that we never got around to learning that we know we would love. With all this free time, take a swing at playing the piano if you’re a guitarist. Take a swing at recording in Logic Pro if you aren’t used to music software. Consistently adding new skills to your repertoire is always the right move!

Engage with Fans

How lucky are we that we have the internet during these crazy times? We are stuck inside, but we are connected to each and every person out there who is also stuck in their homes. You, just sitting there, have Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at your disposal. Take some time to live stream on one of these platforms or use your device to comment on fellow musicians’ posts. Just get out there!

Take a Course

There are plenty of online courses around music right at your fingertips. Don’t let them go to waste! Linkedin offers courses by music’s top executives. Masterclass offers courses offered by music’s biggest producers. Make use of what is available to you and enhance some of those skills!

Breathe.

Lastly….. Relax. Creativity will not come to you if you are stressed or preoccupied. Take things one day at a time. Hopefully these tips will help you to stay productive during quarantine. Be grateful that you have your health and be happy with your ability to create when and if you choose to 🙂

instagram live

17 Things I’ve Learned Using Instagram Live for 17 Straight Days

Towards the end of June, I decided I wanted to find out more about Instagram LIVE. So, as I usually do, I started researching blogs, courses, and social media experts.

They were very detailed and I learned a lot of information, but as Gary Vee has alluded to, you can’t do push ups by talking about them (or something like that). I decided I wanted to go all in this month and see if I could do something I’ve never done before — go live every day of the month!

It has been quite the journey, both mentally and physically making sure I’ve got everything set up and ready to go each day. In the first 17 days, I took some time to collect some of my notes — about myself, about my environment, and about Instagram Live.

This is what I’ve learned (so far) in no particular order…

It was a lot more “difficult” to get started on day 1 vs. day 17.

There were so many distracting thoughts (i.e. negative talk) going on in my head before I actually pressed “go live” at about 11:58pm on July 1st. I also just did a quick review of the stream lengths and as it turns out, day 1 has also been the shortest one at just over 5 minutes.

Nobody cares when I mess up.

The fear of what other people think is a real thing. Once I convinced myself no one would care, it got a lot easier.

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” – George Addair

I shave more often than I used to even in pre-pandemic times.

Apparently I’m a little self-conscious, especially since I’ve been staring at my face in the phone for close to 3 weeks now.

It got a lot easier to do daily when I committed to a specific time (sun-thur 5p PST, sat 8a PST)

I was trying to “fit in” the livestreams when it was convenient. It made it difficult to plan even though I had committed to showing up daily.

It took communication and commitment with my family to make sure we’re on the same page.

This is what made a huge difference. Having my wife on board and knowing what my goals were really helped us be on the same page. #teamwork

I’ve gotten a lot better at prepping.

I still haven’t documented it yet, but I have a pretty standard step by step routine I take to get ready to go live. I’m definitely more efficient at it now.

Better prep has also (unfortunately) made me a bit more “procrastinatey”.

The side effect of #6 is knowing that, sometimes I put off getting ready and put it off until the last minute. And yes, I’m almost sure procrastinatey is a real word.

Apparently I missed the memo that IG lives were no longer kept for 24 hrs in stories.

Remember when your livestreams stayed in your stories? No more. Once you’re done recording, your livestream is no longer visible (see #10).

The broadcast is definitely easier when there are people viewing and engaging!

This goes without saying probably. It’s just like a live in-person show — it always goes over better when there’s an audience that shows up!

I have to save my Instagram Live streams to my camera roll or share to IGTV.

Once your video is done, you’ve got three choices — delete the video, download it, or share it immediately to your IGTV channel.

Hashtags on IGTV videos only “work” in the description (i.e. not as a separate comment).

For the first 5 or 6 videos, I was doing my usual posting of hashtags in the comments of my IGTV video preview. There was little to no traction whatsoever, which made me specifically search for it to realize they have to be in the captions to be searchable.

My son is really loud and can be heard through several walls when he’s laughing.

It’s amazing how aware you become of your surroundings when you’re working from home with an 11-month old and making videos every day.

There’s a lot better engagement when I send out emails and share stories ahead of time.

Everyone isn’t going to always tune in, but it’s all a game of numbers. It literally only takes a few viewers showing up to make it a more fun, engaging livestream. Let them know on social, in email, and on your website when you’re going live!

I can use images from my camera roll as slides.

Once you are live on Instagram Live, you can access your camera roll. If you tap on an image, it will display full screen and your video view will move to the upper right-hand corner. This has been a great way to help me stay on track and help viewers better visualize the points.

Making a comment and holding it down will pin it to my stream. Each new viewer will see it.

Being able to pin a welcome message, paypal link, or even a viewers comment is helpful when people join after you’ve started!

IGTV feed previews with my face have more views vs. ones with the designed covers.

I thought that having the designed covers would be just as engaging since my image was still on screen, but that has not been the case. The streams with close up images of my face as the IGTV cover, are getting almost 2x the views within the first 3 days.

It’s more fun now that I’m not focused on (worried about) how it will sound or other techy logistics.

I mentioned before that I’ve gotten a bit of a process down. This process includes already knowing what my best sound options are, how to get the best signal, angles to use for better lighting, and so on. Now, I’m just focusing on content (and keeping this streak alive).

“Efficiency means doing things right; effectiveness means doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker.⁠⠀

It’s no secret that every social media channel is “video first” and livestreaming content is being consumed at an unfathomable rate. If you don’t have a long term plan or even IDEA of how to incorporate livestreaming, now is the time to start!

++ Follow along with my daily livestreams (at least through the end of July) here.

++ Check out online listings and calendars to promote your livestreams here.

++ Check out Gigmor + JUJUs paid livestream opportunities here.

Guest post by Leonard Patterson, Indie Band Coach

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Leonard Patterson (Indie Band Coach) is a former front-man for a 6-figure party band, a booking agent with 1000’s of shows under his belt, and a certified digital marketer. His mission is to help indie musicians and bands find their fans and share their gifts. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel to get tips on how to create, curate, and automate your social media so you can get back to the music.