Five ways to beat writer’s block

All songwriters, no matter how successful, face the almighty fear of being trapped in the dark, dank space that writers block creates. In this month’s Session Notes blog, Pro7ect Songwriting Retreats founder and songwriter Lisa Fitzgibbon dives into the murky depths of songwriting impotence and shares some tasty tips to help navigate the art of beating the block.

No matter what creative field you exist in, all artists experience cycles of extreme productivity and intense inactivity. Like athlete’s, we need to pace ourselves and learn how to manage this ‘feast or famine’ experience.

Writer’s block can result in a crisis of confidence and an overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome. I promise you that it happens to all of us. In his book ‘Bob Dylan Chronicles, Volume One’, the famous songwriter eloquently describes writers block as “The whiskey had gone out of the bottle… the glow was gone, and the match had burned right to the end”.

This honest account of creative destitution hits a raw nerve, but also gives hope. When I’m drowning in the subterranean dry-spell, I find Dylan’s descriptions strangely liberating…

“The problem was that after relying so long on instinct and intuition, both these ladies had turned into vultures and were sucking me dry. Even spontaneity had become a blind goat. My haystacks weren’t tied down and I was beginning to fear the wind. There was a missing person inside of myself and I needed to find him.” Now there’s a song in that!

As songwriters, we can’t be prolific all the time (Prince being an exception to this rule), so, here are some top tips to help beat the block for us mere mortals:

1. Take a break – I know this sounds simple, and it is. But it isn’t easy. When you are blocked it might be because you’re trying too hard, head-butting a deadline, or just feeling a bit stale. A quick 5-minute tea break, 30-minute walk, 2 week boundaried music-detox or even a bigger sabbatical, could change the frequency on your creative dial.

2. Move your body – Another quick fix that can really work. I am lucky to live in the beautiful Cotswolds, UK, and have access to the most amazing country. But even a walk, run, ride in your neighbourhood will press the refresh button on your creativity.

3. Stand on the shoulders of giants – find a song that you wish you’d written and use it as a starting place for your next song. This is a technique I learned from Pro7ect Headline Producer Gethin Pearson (Charlie XCX, Badly Drawn Boy). He asks artists for 3 songs they wish they’d written and uses them as inspiration for the session. It could be something as simple as the key, bpm or horn sound that ignites a fresh idea and breaks the block.

4. Be prepared – when the magic happens you need to be ready to catch it. Sometimes I get a song idea when I’m running, or in the middle of the night. I always make a voice note or write down these little drops of inspiration, just in case it leads to a bigger idea. It can also inspire an idea retrospectively when you find it in your songbook in future.

5. Go on a songwriting retreat – no surprises that I would recommend this, but it really works. I’ve found inspiration in places I didn’t know I had, by collaborating with other artists and top internationally recognised music producers at Pro7ect’s residential retreats at Rockfield. You can find out more about these life changing songwriting experiences here:

The truth is there’s no quick fix for writer’s block. An important part of our professional practise involves finding the ways and the means to navigate these fallow fields on our creative journeys but knowing that there will be light at the end of the tunnel might just be the very thing that pulls you through. As Bob Dylan says: “I had a premonition something would happen. At first it was hard going, like drilling through a brick wall. All I did was taste the dust. But then miraculously something internal came unhinged… instantly, it was like a thoroughbred had charged through the gates. Everything came back. Even I was surprised. It left me kind of shaky. Immediately, I was flying high.” Now there’s a song in that!

Pro7ect is the UK’s premier residential songwriting retreat, based at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Pro7ect offers artists, musicians, songwriters and producers the unique opportunity to work with internationally respected music producers at our events.

Apply today for our next Residential Songwriting Retreats: (limited places available) at:

Our next events:

Residential: 16th – 20th July 2024 - £1795

Fee includes four nights’ accommodation (twin share), three writing days and all meals, studios, and equipment.

Masterclass: 20th July 2023: 10am - 5pm - £225.

The price includes studio, equipment, producer fees and lunch.
Applicants do not need to have any previous songwriting experience to attend the Masterclasses.

To find out more visit