Drew Gasparini’s Guide To Saying “F*** You” To Writer’s Block

Hello theater geeks, performers, fellow writers, and parents of the theater geeks, performers, and writers who are reading these blogs as to further understand why their child is “the way they are.” Today I wanted to tackle a subject that comes as an occupational hazard… writer’s block. This blog may seem to be catered to strictly composers and writers, but the truth is, people interested in the theater business or performers can also get something out of this… so READ ON, YOU GLORIOUS BUTT HEADS!!!

Everything you’re about to read is coming straight from my personal experience as a professional writer. Please take it with a grain of salt, but I do hope that it is enlightening in some ways…

Writer's Block Cartoon

A cautionary tale.

Writer’s block can be the enemy. Every time I’ve dealt with it I want to punch a hole in the wall. It is my least favorite feeling of all time… trust me, there is no hyperbole there. In the words of the late, great George Carlin… “I don’t have pet peeves. I have major, psychotic fuckin’ hatreds.” Writer’s block!!! For a writer it is the most useless, pointless, helpless feeling. It’s the equivalent of being a proud pervert, but having erectile dysfunction. …And yes… that is the comparison I’m using.

Well, NO MORE. I haven’t dealt with writer’s block in years because I live by 3 rules that keep my mind sharp, full, and eager to empty out. They’ve been working for me; perhaps they will work for you or, at the very least, spark some inspiration for you to come up with your own techniques… I give you Drew’s Guide To Overcoming Writer’s Block: A Three Step Program.

1) Tell your inner critic to shut his damn mouth. You don’t need him till rewrites anyway! How dare he show up at the “idea stage” of your writing to prevent you from putting pen to paper. Your inner critic is an ass hat and needs to know his or her place. The long and short of it is that there truly isn’t such thing as a bad idea. Keep them coming! Keep journals that are just for words or phrases or doodles… these can turn into something! Maybe something great, maybe something not so great. Doesn’t matter. SOMETHING is the best you can ask for right away. I once wrote a song about a guy who has a one night stand with a midget who had no arms or legs! NOTHING IS OFF THE TABLE. Go weird. Go offensive if you need to. Get the idea out. Even the ones you’re scared of writing. You have no idea what it might become. Don’t just stare at where the line is drawn… see where the heck the line can go. Push the boundaries. Just empty your head out. Writer’s block be damned! Next…

2) Listen to music. I know that this one sounds obvious to an idiotic degree, but think about it. I know writers… we are a stubborn people. We usually stick to the few things we like to listen to. The things we like to listen to often inspire us. And you can hear those influences in our sound, and HEY! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? WRONG. Step out of your comfort zone for a second. Especially theater writers! There is more out there than theater music, and it’s so good and inspiring. Pop songs can tell a great story… country, hip hop, rock… there’s so much out there. And you’re a writer. Stretch yourself so you are well versed. If you HATE country music, then the next thing you should do is write a country song. It gets your brain thinking in a new direction, and it helps break up what can become monotonous writing behavior. Get over that writing block hump by staying in tune with all the music that is out there. It’ll spark the spirit of inspiration for sure.

3) Song titles. If you are between musicals (and by the way, if you are calling yourself a theater composer, then please make sure to be writing MUSICALS, not just songs) then don’t not write. Always be writing. From musicals, to stand-alones, to poems, to pop songs, to fuckin’ commercial jingles, you must ALWAYS be writing. If you’re in this because you love it, prove it. If you find yourself at the wall where writer’s block starts to show its ugly mug, then don’t aim so high. Start with a title. Song titles get the ball rolling in a big fat way, and there’s a way to make it fun. Use a lifeline and call a friend. GET HELP! Back when I was a touring singer/songwriter, before I fell into the loving arms of musical theater, I used to play a back and forth kind of game with other songwriters. We’d give each other a title to challenge and inspire each other. For instance, I would give the word “Unfold” to a writer friend, and they’d write a song that stems from what their interpretation of that word is. It’s fun, the end result can end up being a great song, and it keeps your brain on its toes! In fact, I do it in my live show to this DAY. Here’s a clip of me writing a few goofy songs on the spot based on song title suggestions from the audience:

I hope these 3 easy rules and guidelines can help you when writer’s block comes to slap you in the head. All you writers, you should know this… everyone depends on us. Actors, directors, producers, etc… no one has a job without the story you have to write. We are feeding the theatrical economy. So keep writing! A WRITER WRITES! Stay inspired! We are all counting on you. Save your pennies to see every concert, every show, every piece of art you can. Get ideas. Get inspired. Get your ass in gear, and get writing! You are sexy.

Hugs, kisses, and grilled cheese,
Drew Gasparini

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