This is a topic that many folks have asked me to address (are they trying to tell me something?) and I haven’t because I never think of it as a well running dry; more like a battery that periodically needs to be recharged.
There are few people on earth who can simply create meaningful art in a never ending stream. Time and circumstance, health and politics, economy and excess all have their impact on our muse.
I have written before about having seasons where I seem to create regularly in the fall and the spring, but the fact is I always have something in the works. But…
If I am not getting anywhere with it, I put it aside and let it ferment til it speaks to me or I rediscover it.
One of the things that you can do to recharge is to learn other people’s music or new arrangements of old familiar songs. They give you a new take on something that you might have felt was hardwired into your brain one way (see www.allwoodandstones.com if you don’t know what I mean).
If it’s just not coming, sometimes I will start typing a song that I’ve already written. Just putting the lyrics on the screen or the page seems to open the gates. It’s kind of like pedaling really hard as you approach a hill. You get some steam under you, some momentum and then you just keep rolling. If you apply some effort to it as you are rolling you crest the hill easily.
It’s the same with writer’s block for me. I unlock the block by writing something that I’ve already written.
Or I might go to an artist that really has inspired me through the years and listen to a recording of theirs that really moved me. If it’s real, it will move you again.
Also try picking up a song that you know from someone else’s catalog and try to rearrange it yourself; perhaps digging through a chord book to find some chords that are unfamiliar to you.
Or pick up an instrument with which you have little or no familiarity and try to make music on it. Just don’t worry. It will come back.
Another thing you can do is to put down your instrument for a day or two. Don’t touch it at all. When you pick it up again, your fingers or emboucher or whatever will be so happy to be back in the saddle that music will just fall out.
Sometimes I go for a long run, or long bike ride, or go to the gym and work myself into a big sweat, come home and get cleaned up and then have a glass of wine and a bite to eat. Just get yourself out of the anxiety of not being able to create.
Just don’t panic. Fear is the killer, don’t give it any life.