Produced by

Overcoming a Creative Block

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When songwriter Josh Ritter visited Soundcheck earlier this week, he explained how he overcame a bout of writer’s block with field trips to New York museums. Other artists, like composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, sought help from a hypnotherapist. Today: psychologist Andy Evans of the London-based firm, Arts Psychology Consultants, explains the unique challenges that songwriters and musicians face in overcoming creative blocks. Plus, we take your calls.


Weigh in: have you ever experienced a creative block? How did you cope with it?


1. Josh Ritter - The Curse

2. Van Cliburn - Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No. 2

3. The Cure - Close To Me

4. Sibelius Symphony No. 7 (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, conductor)

Comments [8]

Good discussion. Great article on getting "unstuck" from Poets & Writers magazine:

Aug. 04 2010 05:35 PM
12-String Frank from Staten Island, NY

It's all baloney. There's no such thing as a writer's block. Basically nothing is coming out because you have Nothing to say and Nothing New to say. Nothing is stopping you from being creative except your own self.

How about trying some different techniques: some new chords you never played before; some different topics; get angry about something and write about that since you're sure to have a strong opinion; try new technologies; think about what you really want to say or your theme.

Robert Hunter once wrote for the Grateful Dead: "Let my inspiration flow in token rhyme, Suggesting rhythm,
That will not forsake you
Till my tale is told and done."

Now that's writing. Hey, if writer's block does exist, then I hope more Indie Rock people get it, then there'll be much less of that crap being created.

Jul. 29 2010 02:57 PM
Helen Ellis

As a novelist, I've found my vlog to be a relief for writer's block. There are no written words. Just 6 second to 2 minute video snippets of my life all shot in one take. Creativity leads to more creativity. And sooner than later I'm back at my desk.

Visit me at and I'll show you how to empty the trash ( and listen to the radio (
Helen Ellis

Jul. 29 2010 02:48 PM
Manuel Macarrulla from Brooklyn

I'm a painter. I once told my painting teacher about creative block. I got good advice from him. He said, "When I can't paint, I go to the studio, paint for five minutes and stop." I tried that, and it loosened me up until I could paint more and more.

Jul. 29 2010 02:32 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

I don't remember which jazz musician said this but a favorite quote of mine is "If it ain't fun you're not doing it right."

That being said, the first stage of getting going composing is always to clean up my workspace. That puts me in a more spatially-oriented and relaxed state as well as reducing interference with whatever might form in my mind.

Jul. 29 2010 02:29 PM
Elizabeth from Clinton Hill.

I'm a woman, and artist. Perfectionism does not resonate for me as much as what he said might be more "male": self-doubt and apathy. Also, someone gave me a book 2 yrs ago called "The Van Gogh Blues." by Eric Maisel. The title was so gross to me I did not crack it open till a week ago. It is actually amazingly helpful, and I recommend it.

Jul. 29 2010 02:29 PM
Alison Nicholls from Westchester

Pastel Artist Harley Brown said "Many amateurs get working only when inspired. A professional simply gets working; then gets inspired." Couldn't agree more!

Jul. 29 2010 02:28 PM
Erin from Brooklyn

When I heard you were doing "writer's block" today I almost turned the radio off because I didn't want to fall victim by suggestion (I'm a songwriter) but the artists calling in are offering some great tips. Thanks!

Jul. 29 2010 02:27 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.