Songwriting – like any art – requires at least a certain amount of inspiration. However, the more you write the more often inspiration isn’t as available as you’d like it to be. Occasionally, inspiration can appear to run completely dry. When you find yourself heading toward or already in that situation, there are multiple ways to bring it back or at least create the proper conditions for it to arrive.

1. Co-writing

One of the greatest benefits of songwriting collaboration is that on days when you’re feeling uninspired, you can borrow your co-writer’s inspiration and use it to jumpstart your own. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone into a co-write feeling flat and come out feeling inspired and back in the game solely because my co-writer was “on” that day. And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there will be times when you’ll be in a position to return the favor. Writer's Block

2. Write down a song title every morning

Another favorite trick of mine is to get in the habit of writing down a song title every morning. Not only does this wake up your songwriter brain but it also plants the seeds of inspiration while you’ve got them. That way on days when you sit down to write and can’t come up with anything, you’ve got dozens if not hundreds of titles to browse through to get yourself going.

3. Go to a bookstore 

Speaking of titles, bookstores are a treasure trove of title ideas. Since book and song titles aren’t eligible for copyright, any and all book titles are fair game. It’s amazing how simply thinking about/looking at titles will shake loose song ideas. And, besides, who doesn’t love taking a long, slow walk around a bookstore?

4. Save snippets of melodic and lyrical ideas

In the same way you’ll be amassing song titles, it’s never a bad idea to keep a file of song concepts or melodic snippets. Using a free smartphone app like Evernote can be a tremendous help as you can not only write down lyrical ideas but also sing/play a bit of a melody or chord progression and refer to it when you’re at a loss for new inspiration.

5. Keep a file of unfinished songs

Another way of preventing writer’s block is to make your unfinished songs easily accessible. Set up a place where you can go and listen to the rough recordings of the songs you’ve started but, for whatever reason, haven’t taken to completion. You’ll be amazed at how new angles or solutions to prior problems will present themselves. It’s good to remember that not every song has to begin with a blank page. Writer's Block

Bonus Tip: Go on input for a while

Sometimes we all need to live a little more and document our lives a little less. What I mean is instead of constantly mining your experiences for songwriting inspiration, maybe it’s time to have more experiences. Being mindful of your life and taking the time to actively participate in it will pay dividends in the long run as you’ll have a much richer and more textured set of memories to draw from. In other words, give yourself a break and live a little!


If you’re making songwriting a part of your daily or even weekly routine, it is inevitable that the level of your creative inspiration will wax and wane. Hopefully one or more of the tips above will help keep you in the game until spontaneous inspiration returns.

Want a dozen quick fixes for your songs?

Click the image on the right for my free tip sheet.

10 responses to “Five Ways Songwriters Can Avoid Writer’s Block”

  1. Matteo says:

    I’ve just stumbled onto your website and blog. Three or four blog pasts in and I must say the quality of your writing and insights are excellent. Definitely stirring those creative juices.

  2. Allana says:

    I’m happy I found you!

  3. Bob McPherson says:

    Thanks for your articles and insights. It’s encouraging to know others are treading the same path. Cheers

  4. Rosa says:

    Thanks for all your advice. I feel so lucky to find the professional team player that I had been looking for many years. God Bless You. Happy New Year. Rosa

  5. Cliff Keller says:

    All great ideas. Another one: join a local songwriting club or organzation. It will help you find cowriters and may help put a fire under your seat. The ones i belong to have a book club (read a prescribed book and write a song to it and share it), and a songwriters game where you get a song title instead of a book to write about.


  7. Laing french says:

    Since ive had 1 song recorded at your studio you have been an inspiration to me and my music. Mainly, keep it simple, remind drummer to start with a rim shot ( lol! ) and trust your engineer that’s what he does best. Thank you Cliff.

  8. Some of these I have done, but #2 and #3 are new to me and I think they’re great suggestions. I just now took a spiral notebook and labeled the cover “Song Titles”.

  9. Michele Earl says:

    Always great ideas…..I always find your advice really useful in my songwriting journey…Little gems..Thanks !

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