Songwriter's block; it happens to every artist at one point or another. You might feel motivated to write music. You might have a deadline to finish a composition. But when you sit down with your instrument, you have constipation of the brain. Prune juice isn't going to do much for your music. So what do you do; force your ideas?
Here are some ways to be more productive, and get that natural flow.
1. Take a break – It's difficult to write music when you are frustrated or angry. It's difficult for many people to even speak what they want to say when they are frustrated or angry. Put that emotional blockage aside, and come back when you are refreshed.
2. Immerse yourself – Just as method actors do, immerse yourself in the song. Be warned, this may not always be a good idea. For example, if you happen to write in the Gangsta genre, I would not suggest taking to the street with an automatic machine gun. However, if you are writing a love song, spend more time with that person. Hopefully that isn't an "easier said than done" task. Take a trip, or watch a film. Do whatever you can to be safely connected to the content of your music.
3. Switch instruments – Sometimes your analytic mind can get the best of you. You shouldn't be spending too much time thinking about the limitations of your instrument. You should not be in the habit of playing similar patterns to compositions you've written in the past. Try sitting down with a different instrument, and see what kinds of creative juices come out. This might be the perfect way to free your mind up.
4. The "chicken or the egg" theory – If you normally start your compositions with lyrics, start with the music instead. Vice versa, if you normally start a composition with the music, grab the pen and start writing lyrics. If your song is an instrumental, write lyrics anyhow to help guide the statement you are trying to make. Musicians are often asked what they do first, and there is no correct way. Whatever works for you at any given time is the way to go.
5. Freestyle – Push record on your mixer, tape recorder, iPhone, or whatever you have, and just start playing without direction. Once you're done with the freestyle approach, go back and listen to what you recorded. Maybe you'll have played a riff you can build off of. Maybe you'll have discovered a whole new song. It doesn't matter, you need to stop searching for the right melody, and let it happen on it's own. People have gone mad, looking for their glasses, only to find that they were wearing them the entire time.
6. Collaborate – Do you really have to do it all yourself? Have a friend, or contact help you out. Ask them, "What do you think about this riff?" and let them interject their own ideas. Most likely it will be completely different than the dead-end idea you had. Just be sure they're not expecting any royalties.
7. Don't play from start to finish – Writing music doesn't have to be a linear experience. Write a bridge, write a chorus, write a hook; begin writing from a different starting point, and then find the connection to what you had in mind.
8. Have a drink… or two – Don't get too crazy. Let's look at some facts though, it's been said several times that the Beatles wrote all of their music while under the influence (of something or another). "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" might be all it takes to concoct inspirational ideas into your music.
9. Start with the bass – The bass is somewhat of a backbone to all music. Yet, it allows plenty of creative freedom. Put down just the root notes that shape your song. After you have that down, fill it in with the melodies and rhythmic patterns.
10. Forget everything you have learned – Theory is great. The more you know the better. Jazz musicians study it vigorously. But when they get on stage, they don't break a sweat wondering if an A Pentonic scale is going to work over an E Diminished chord (which it could, by the way). Just play it. Raw creativity can not be explained or disected into theoretical explanations, because it is relative to interpretation. Focus less on what is "correct" and more on what you feel.