Life, gear and writer’s block

DrewJD82

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I never experienced writer’s block before the last year and man, does that sh*t suck!

I got divorced last year and it was a f*cking mess. This week was the one-year mark of moving into my apartment and the same time I started buying gear like a madman. I bought more gear in the last 365 days than I have in 28 years and can confidently say that new gear does NOT bring forth motivation, for me, anyway.

The 6 years leading up to it were the most creative of my life, I quit my last band in 2016 and built a small home studio where I’d hang out for hours at a time every day and there didn’t seem to be an end to the amount of music coming out of me. Once July 2021 hit, it was like someone shut the hose off. I had actually started therapy 2 months prior because I knew what was coming down the road and I ended up taking it very seriously due to my reaction when the ball dropped as I almost took myself out and never wanted to get that close to the edge again.

I had assumed that all this mental work I was doing would help open me up more, but that definitely wasn’t the case. Maybe socially, but definitely not creatively. I’d sit in my studio noodling to a click trying to find something interesting to develop and it never came. It was a good 6 months that I barely even touched a guitar unless it was a new one I bought and then it was mostly just sitting on the couch for 30 minutes until I got bored. I joined a cover band to get me out of my apartment and to play guitar live again, that was fun, but did nothing for the creativity. Around the 6 month mark I was picking up my guitar for hours and noodling away, I have hundreds of riffs I recorded on my phone during that time but in the last year I only managed to force out two songs that do not sound very inspired to me listening now.

I don’t know if I just had to get past this last week or what the deal was, but last night I felt like someone turned the hose back on full blast. Wednesday would have been my 3rd wedding anniversary and I was feeling off that whole day, despite not really feeling much of anything negative in regards to the past for quite some time. But when I woke up Thursday, something felt different and all day long I just wanted to go home and sit in my studio. When I got home, within 4 hours I had finished tracking a song, re-arranged another into something I enjoy, re-tracked guitars and bass for two others and started a new one. I only stopped because a buddy stopped by with some beers, but I got more work done in that 4 hours than I did the entire last year.

I try to take some kind of lesson away from the sh*ttier periods of life to not repeat the past, but I really can’t find a lesson in any of this aside from ”Don’t f*ckin’ get married again.” :rofl No amount of therapy, meditation, bong rips….JFC, I tried going 2 weeks without poppin’ one off just to see if that’d help my creativity and it did nothing but make me feel like a horny teenager :ROFLMAO:. I guess I just had to wait for time to flush it out like the giant turd it all was. All I want to do is go home and finish what I started last night!

Anyone else dealt with writer’s block in the past or are dealing with it now?
 
Did the Dam burst?? Floodgates open?? 😃

I have come to believe that creativity requires tension. No tension. No release.
Maybe it felt as friction for some. I just think that spark of creativity comes from
the rubbing of two or more things together in a way that generates some heat,
and then lights a fire with that spark of energy.

Think of all the great bands/artist that had something to rail against (a corrupt culture,
bad parents, a shitty neighbourhood, crappy job in the Steel plant) and how that tension
fueled their creativity. Take away that tension and POOF! maybe that spark and fire from
the pent up aggression and tension felt internally is not there??

Sex and desire also have that element of tension and release. We all damn well know that
the best music has it to. If it doesn't then it probably sucks. ;)

Look forward to hearing what you are coming up with, Drew.
 
Cool that it seems to have finally broken. At one point in the late '00s, the intense pressure on me as really the sole remaining proven songwriter for Division caused a brutal case of writer's block. Everything I wrote sounded like shit for 3 years-ish. It sucks.
 
One thing Vernon Reid mentioned in a magazine interview I saw when I was a young-un
is that he didn't believe in "writer's block." It always stuck with me. Not saying it doesn't exist
for others, just that what he shared made a lot of sense to me.

He felt like too many musicians did not live enough. He said you had to have ACTUAL
experiences in order to have something to write about. Whenever he felt "empty" of ideas
he would go for a walk, read a book, or visit a museum, or just chill and not worry about it.
The well would replenish itself. All he had to do was wait and trust that would.

He even mentioned one guitar student he had who he told to get out of his room. He told
him to go fall in love and get his heart broken. :LOL: He said that the young man was all
technique and was focusing on "practice" and playing guitar. It meant that he kind of had
nothing to say when he played. That blew my young mind. And that advice has always stuck
with me.
 
Cool that it seems to have finally broken. At one point in the late '00s, the intense pressure on me as really the sole remaining proven songwriter for Division caused a brutal case of writer's block. Everything I wrote sounded like s**t for 3 years-ish. It sucks.

I don’t know how I would have dealt with people relying on me to write music during a period like that. Damn. How long has Division been a band for, man? I joined MGO around 2006 and know it was going before then.
 
One thing Vernon Reid mentioned in a magazine interview I saw when I was a young-un
is that he didn't believe in "writer's block." It always stuck with me. Not saying it doesn't exist
for others, just that what he shared made a lot of sense to me.

He felt like too many musicians did not live enough. He said you had to have ACTUAL
experiences in order to have something to write about. Whenever he felt "empty" of ideas
he would go for a walk, read a book, or visit a museum, or just chill and not worry about it.
The well would replenish itself. All he had to do was wait and trust that would.

He even mentioned one guitar student he had who he told to get out of his room. He told
him to go fall in love and get his heart broken. :LOL: He said that the young man was all
technique and was focusing on "practice" and playing guitar. It meant that he kind of had
nothing to say when he played. That blew my young mind. And that advice has always stuck
with me.

Great points in both posts.

I’ve known for years, with lyrics, I can’t write about something as it’s happening because it feels contrived or because I don’t know the resolution to it yet or whatever the case is, everything I’ve written has always been reflective rather than a reaction to a situation I’m in at the time. I’m guessing I work the same way musically and just had plenty of sh*t from my childhood to draw inspiration from. :rofl

What Vernon was saying about finding inspiration everywhere, I totally get that and that’s how it’s always worked for me, but it just wasn’t happening in the last year. I absolutely agree with the idea of having actual experiences in order to have something to write about. Just from my own experiences, I do think coming out of the other side of trauma can bring something more impactful simply for the fact that some traumas can strip you to the core and when you’re out of f*cks to give you’re not doing anything to impress anyone, even your own self and that’s where the good sh*t comes from. Or I’m just talking out of my ass.
 
Being the sole songwriter SUCKS. Finding a collaborator is hard but when you do find one; hold on to them! Good to hear you are pulling back out of the writer's block zone Drew. Creating music is one of the best things we can do with our time on the earth :satan
 
Since 1993. It's more of a social club that plays the occasional show now. :guiness

That’s cool as hell though, man. There’s got to be some great friendships that have come out of that.

My two best friends since middle school and I still talk about our high school band like it’s an active thing and whenever we get together we just play the same old songs we did 20 years ago. Even though there’s nothing interesting or fun about playing “Enter Sandman” for the 999999th time, if it’s with those guys I’m smiling ear to ear.
 
Being the sole songwriter SUCKS. Finding a collaborator is hard but when you do find one; hold on to them! Good to hear you are pulling back out of the writer's block zone Drew. Creating music is one of the best things we can do with our time on the earth :satan

I’ve only written with drummers in the past, I’ve had two that I’ve been on the same page with where we barely had to speak and we’d get so much written that we were both really INTO. My buddy Nacho brought a friend over last night who I guess writes a lot of lyrics and sings and I agreed to try doing some writing with them to see how it turns out.

I really prefer working alone; when I get the idea for a song in my head, I can generally hear the whole thing at once and it’s a mad dash to record it all before it goes away. I think because I went so long where I was only singing in bands and not contributing a lot musically, I got a bit selfish in regards to writing, like “If you won’t let me play I’m taking the ball and going home” kinda thing. We were listening to a bunch of my recordings last night and Nacho’s buddy started saying “Man I can write some lyrics to….” and Nacho cut him off right away saying, “Nope! No. No. Don’t go there. I finally got him to agree to play with us, but we gotta start fresh. This is his stuff and no one f*cks with it.”, so apparently I‘ve made the point to him rather clear in the past. :ROFLMAO:

I would love to work with just a singer or another guitarist with just acoustics or piano and see what could happen, but I’ve yet to find anyone that I’d really enjoy working with.
 
I’ve only written with drummers in the past, I’ve had two that I’ve been on the same page with where we barely had to speak and we’d get so much written that we were both really INTO. My buddy Nacho brought a friend over last night who I guess writes a lot of lyrics and sings and I agreed to try doing some writing with them to see how it turns out.

I really prefer working alone; when I get the idea for a song in my head, I can generally hear the whole thing at once and it’s a mad dash to record it all before it goes away. I think because I went so long where I was only singing in bands and not contributing a lot musically, I got a bit selfish in regards to writing, like “If you won’t let me play I’m taking the ball and going home” kinda thing. We were listening to a bunch of my recordings last night and Nacho’s buddy started saying “Man I can write some lyrics to….” and Nacho cut him off right away saying, “Nope! No. No. Don’t go there. I finally got him to agree to play with us, but we gotta start fresh. This is his stuff and no one f*cks with it.”, so apparently I‘ve made the point to him rather clear in the past. :ROFLMAO:

I would love to work with just a singer or another guitarist with just acoustics or piano and see what could happen, but I’ve yet to find anyone that I’d really enjoy working with.
If you have enough wind in your sails to make that work; that is a killer arrangement. My output was so infrequent that without a co-writer; we would have some seriously long dry spells. Which tends to eat up band morale after a certain point.
 
Most of us need someone to bounce ideas off.

I write better with writing partners. There is competition and cooperation in the exchange of ideas.

I would love to have that kind of competition with another writer, the healthy kind. The closest I got was with my former guitarist who started doing his own thing like I was, we were learning to record/mix at the same time and were banging songs out trying to outdo each other’s mixes in a healthy way, sharing information and what we were learning.
 
2 Weeks?! That's desperate for sure.

Can't help, but, having lost all motivation and joy of playing the guitar for years, and then it just mysteriously came back, I do sympathize.

I don't write, but as I understand it, creativity can certainly come and go. So a suggestion might be, that while you have it flowing, keep hitting 'Record' as often as possible, so you have a future well to draw on, should it happen again, maybe.
 
2 Weeks?! That's desperate for sure.

Can't help, but, having lost all motivation and joy of playing the guitar for years, and then it just mysteriously came back, I do sympathize.

I don't write, but as I understand it, creativity can certainly come and go. So a suggestion might be, that while you have it flowing, keep hitting 'Record' as often as possible, so you have a future well to draw on, should it happen again, maybe.

I’ve definitely had it come and go in small bursts over the years, but this was just a total shut down. Cool thing is, I have a sh*tload of riffs on my phone from the last year. That 2nd week was the most social week of my life, it was definitely interesting to see how such a short amount of time can change things like that, but that’s about as far as I want to push that experiment. :rofl
 
I’ve only written with drummers in the past, I’ve had two that I’ve been on the same page with where we barely had to speak and we’d get so much written that we were both really INTO. My buddy Nacho brought a friend over last night who I guess writes a lot of lyrics and sings and I agreed to try doing some writing with them to see how it turns out.

I really prefer working alone; when I get the idea for a song in my head, I can generally hear the whole thing at once and it’s a mad dash to record it all before it goes away. I think because I went so long where I was only singing in bands and not contributing a lot musically, I got a bit selfish in regards to writing, like “If you won’t let me play I’m taking the ball and going home” kinda thing. We were listening to a bunch of my recordings last night and Nacho’s buddy started saying “Man I can write some lyrics to….” and Nacho cut him off right away saying, “Nope! No. No. Don’t go there. I finally got him to agree to play with us, but we gotta start fresh. This is his stuff and no one f*cks with it.”, so apparently I‘ve made the point to him rather clear in the past. :ROFLMAO:

I would love to work with just a singer or another guitarist with just acoustics or piano and see what could happen, but I’ve yet to find anyone that I’d really enjoy working with.

Man, finding that flow with others is either there or it isn't. Mostly, in my experience, it isn't. ;)

I have similar struggles working/writing with others. Not stroking my ego here, but I have put
more time in on multiple instruments than a lot of people that I know have put on one. I never
wanted it to be this way either. At my core I am a band guy and prefer the "chemistry" of playing
with others. Nothing else like it! It's just something that has born out of necessity. No one else gonna
sing? Ok. I will. No one else has any ideas? Ok. I have some.

Also, not everyone wants to write. I would say I know more "musicians" who are content with learning
covers and are cool with that. That was never me, though. I have always wanted music to be a vehicle
of self-expression.

I also feel like the stronger your personal vision is the more likely it is that you will have to see it through,
and not rely on others. If others come, cool. If not, GO! :beer
 
Man, finding that flow with others is either there or it isn't. Mostly, in my experience, it isn't. ;)

I have similar struggles working/writing with others. Not stroking my ego here, but I have put
more time in on multiple instruments than a lot of people that I know have put on one. I never
wanted it to be this way either. At my core I am a band guy and prefer the "chemistry" of playing
with others. Nothing else like it! It's just something that has born out of necessity. No one else gonna
sing? Ok. I will. No one else has any ideas? Ok. I have some.

Also, not everyone wants to write. I would say I know more "musicians" who are content with learning
covers and are cool with that. That was never me, though. I have always wanted music to be a vehicle
of self-expression.

I also feel like the stronger your personal vision is the more likely it is that you will have to see it through,
and not rely on others. If others come, cool. If not, GO! :beer

Jesus, I could have written that post!!!

And yes, 100% spot on with the personal vision thing; that's entirely why I taught myself how to record/mix. I probably mentioned it before but the last original band I was singing in, I had spent weeks working out the vocals for this one song, I had countermelodies and all these harmonies I busted my ass doing in the studio, I knew exactly what effects I wanted, how I wanted it mixed, it was all in my head. I wake up one morning and the track is posted to FB with one, dry vocal track. I quit immediately. That was the last time someone else was going to dictate how I sounded on something I spent so much time on.

That's crazy how much that post mirrors my thoughts. We're like best friends.
 
Jesus, I could have written that post!!!

And yes, 100% spot on with the personal vision thing; that's entirely why I taught myself how to record/mix. I probably mentioned it before but the last original band I was singing in, I had spent weeks working out the vocals for this one song, I had countermelodies and all these harmonies I busted my ass doing in the studio, I knew exactly what effects I wanted, how I wanted it mixed, it was all in my head. I wake up one morning and the track is posted to FB with one, dry vocal track. I quit immediately. That was the last time someone else was going to dictate how I sounded on something I spent so much time on.

That's crazy how much that post mirrors my thoughts. We're like best friends.

Who knows, maybe we'll collab on a song someday. :headbang
 
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