Where Do You Find Inspiration and How Do You Cure Writer’s Block?

Hi Billy,

what do you do when you are looking for inspiration? I like to write poetry/ try to make songs, but I never know what to write about.

Another question I have, is when you get writer’s block, how do you get rid of it?’

For me, inspiration comes from all over the place, most of all when I least expect it. I’m inspired by people, places, current events, movies…you name it. One thing I have a hard time with though, is forcing inspiration.

Creative people everywhere are constantly searching for a remedy to the illustrious “writer’s block”. I am part of this group! Personally, I like the Kevin Smith approach to Writer’s Block. When asked what he does when he can’t think of anything to write about, he replied:

I don’t write.

There you have it!

Obviously this isn’t an option for most creative people. But if you want to know my opinion, here it is: Don’t force inspiration. Of course there needs to be a divide between never producing anything at all, because you’re just waiting around for the perfect melody or concept to just “come to you”. And by no means am I encouraging you to be lazy. But let’s face it, most of the garbage that exists out there in the world exists because someone (or a group of people) sat down with either a deadline or the intention of creating something by the time they stood up. (A lot of this conversations, especially in Hollywood, begin with the phrase “let’s write a hit song!”)

As I like to say, to each his or her own, however…

Some of the most inspirational people I know are constantly creating. It’s almost a part of their fabric as much as breathing in and out it is. It is because they are so creative that they have a higher output and thus, a higher opportunity to create something great.

Of this mindset are some of my favourite songwriters of all time: The Beatles.

I heard a story about how they were such productive songwriters. When asked how they had such a broad and plentiful catalog of music, they answered that they would just sit in a room and not leave until they had created something (I’m paraphrasing of course). The intention of this was to think of each song as an exercise toward being a better songwriter. Much like one would practice a math equation or piece of music in order to become an expert, they would, in turn, practice the craft of songwriting.

The great thing about thinking of each song as an exercise (rather than the be-all-end-all) is that it completely frees you from some of the limitations that may be, unbeknownst to you, stifling your creativity.

One example is the concept of sitting down to write a song and thinking “Okay! This song is going to be my masterpiece!”

The problem with this is that you will write the word “The” and immediately cross it out, exclaiming “A masterpiece most certainly would not start with the word ‘The’…!”

This is the beginning of never finishing anything.

So in short, don’t be too critical of yourself, think of each song as an exercise and if you’re not inspired, don’t write 😉

How do you guys find your inspiration? Doesn’t have to be for songwriting, this can include anything creative from poetry to painting.