I don’t believe in the curse of “writer’s block.”
What’s really happening is the creative process is being sabotaged by the editing process. If the editor mind sneaks in while you’re trying to be creative, you’ll be stuck. Do these at different times and places.
Start with the creative –
First – Outline your constraints. Don’t think “I need to write a tune.” Think “I need to write a grade 3 march that features the trombones and lasts about two and a half minutes.” Apply only the necessary constraints. They help you focus on exactly what you want to accomplish.
Second – Write as many small ideas as possible. Four or eight measure ideas are enough. Get creative with this one. The goal is a free flow of ideas. One of my best composing efforts came when I took my phone out on a long walk, and every time I had a melody idea, I hummed it into the voice recorder. If you need one theme, don’t stop the new ideas until you have five. Anything that pops into your head is fair game. The more ideas the better.
Third – After you’ve taken a break, start assembling your ideas. Usually one or tune themes will stick out in your mind. Start by mocking them up in your program of choice. Use some simple orchestration. You don’t need to finish anything. Avoid the urge to “tweak” your ideas. That comes later.
Fourth – Start gluing these ideas together. This is the fun part. You may notice some ideas work great as transition material. Sometimes you’ll be able to combine a couple of ideas together into something new. Now that there is some material in place, making connections is much easier.
Now you can edit –
This is where the editor mind can make his first appearance. You’ve got most of your material together. Now you can start cleaning up. Fix those voicings. Add countermelodies. Listen to it a million times. Be harshly critical. Eliminate everything that you don’t like. Simplify where you can.
It’s easy to think that our creativity should shine no matter what, but process is critical. The process needs to protect our creative instincts in the beginning. Don’t let the editor mind show up until the end.