I got a royalty statement on Friday. I always forget they are coming, so when they do, I'm always pleasantly surprised how my songwriting over many years is the gift that keeps on giving.
It's kind of ironic because right now I feel I'm in another song writer's block. Perhaps you are one of life's lucky creatives that have never felt the fear of the proverbial blank sheet of paper. If you are, then I'm honestly pleased for you.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't treat the process of writing as some kind of mystical moment where angels visit me to deliver a new song, as someone once said songwriting is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. It is hard work and demands more than simply an idea, you go from a sketch to a finished song, and that can often be a long journey. There are the odd moments of writing songs in one moment of outpouring, but in my experience, they are the exception rather than the rule.
That said, right now there's the aching silence of nothing. I stare at my keyboard, my guitar, my screen and back around in an endless loop of hoping something will come. But several months on, there is nothing, nada, zip.
It's not the first time I've been here, and I'm sure it won't be the last.
Here are some ways I've jump started the ideas in the past.
1. I've Stopped Watching TV And Started Reading Books
TV is an easy way to relax and in many cases what TV does is to allow you to consume stuff without even thinking. It is even worse in the modern age because many of us watch TV with a laptop on our knees and a phone in our hand. Is it any surprise that an idea can't find it's way into our heads with all the distractions, it's like trying to get four elephants into a Fiat 500.
Reading books are completely different, they allow us to imagine characters and worlds that are not seen, and in doing so, they help kick start our creative juices. Books require our concentration; they compel us to commit in a way that TV does not.
I'm not anti-TV, on the contrary, I think there's never been a better time to watch TV with some excellent shows like Stranger Things, Mr. Robot and Taboo to name just three that have enthralled me. But they offer me a finished idea rather than one I can start to explore.
2. Turn Off The White Noise
Phones, email and anything else that gets your attention. TURN IT OFF.
In fact, I make a habit now when I'm working on any creative process to turn off anything that will distract me. If I'm to offer the best I can as an artist when working on a project, then I need to set all the other paraphernalia of modern living to one side. I wouldn't want the guy doing my taxes or the surgeon operating on me to be checking his texts and Facebook while in the middle of working on me - what makes creativity any different?
3. Take Off
Take a walk, a weekend off or a holiday - preferably all three on a regular basis. I did not do enough of any of the aforementioned last year, and I'll put money on this being the biggest reason why my creativity is currently playing chicken with a blank page.
No one can give out endlessly, none of us are superheroes (all the time), and tiredness and exhaustion are contributing factors to us losing our edge.
I've booked a holiday this year. If you haven't done so yet then I'd suggest doing the same - if you are broke then make it a week at home without all the usual distractions.
I hate writer's block; it scares me. It makes me think I'll never write again. It makes me makes me want to sell all my gear, rather than wasting it on me.
But I have to keep telling myself this time of silence will pass, it has before and I am betting on it doing so again.