Neel, Phil, and Susan
Neel, Phil, and Susan

Getting Past Writer’s Block with Susan Cattaneo

Singer-songwriter and music educator Susan Cattaneo joined us once again, this time to talk about tips for overcoming writer’s block for songwriters. We talked about:

  • writing in a different mode, on purpose
  • a great video on understanding modes – The Modes Ranked by Brightness – YouTube
  • lists of contemporary songs using modes, courtesy of Susan and her Berklee colleague Sarah Brindell:
  • how “not writing” can be seen like a rest in music, rather than a paralyzing feeling of never being able to write again
  • how learning about more paths through writing a song can be helpful in overcoming a block
  • letting ideas marinate before becoming a song
  • how there are two kinds of writer’s block: “I can’t write” and “I don’t want to write”
  • The Inner Game of Music (book)
  • listen to music you don’t normally listen to or don’t like, but listen actively and analytically
  • ingest more media like art, movies, TV shows, the news, a good meal
  • On Writing (book)
  • Writing Better Lyrics (book)
  • have a bag of words – pick two at random to start a song
  • keyword exercise: finding groups of rhyming words to start a lyric
  • writing something dumb or silly to get started
  • learn and perform cover songs to learn more about songwriting
  • go to a food court and eavesdrop on conversations
  • collaborate with others to overcome blocks

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