I'm a guitarist, playing with 3-4 bands 4-5 days a week. I also study Sound Engineering and doing recording, arranging and mixing. My literature is not bad, and I have a good music education. Including mods and even maqams. But I can't produce anything. I'm trying to write a melody, but I just can't. It feels so simple, so predictable. Then I delete it. Sometimes I like and save it. After few days, I don't like it. Same for writing lyrics. My brain absolutely stops working. I don't know what to do. Please help me!
Buffy… produce a good song is hard, very hard, very very hard. You can't succeed the first time, even the 10th.
In any case, you can't succeed if you stop.
Stop thinking. Stop judging you (too fast).
Make a deal: during one year, write a song each day. A song a day. With an 8 or 16 bars for the verse and 8 or 16 bars for the refrain. If you write lyrics, try to produce one verse and the refrain.
A song a day. Or a song a couple of days in the beginning. Not a song a week (it's not enough). During one year.
Remember: stop thinking, stop judging you. Just produce the (bad) song, throw it in the trash (maybe, during the year, you keep 3 or 4 verses and 3 or 4 refrains).
Then we talk.
A few thoughts come to mind:
1.) Write every day. Not just every day for a year, but every day, forever. Gershwin would write a melody every day, knowing that he’d only end up using 1 melody out of 100.
2.) Don’t judge what you write too soon. What matters most at the outset is creating. After creation, then measure if it fits your vision. If it doesn’t, determine what should be changed. Make it a more practical process than an emotional one.
3.) Study the great melody writers from all genres; everything from German Lieder to hit popular songs.
4.) You sound busy, and aren’t probably surrounding yourself with music outside your bubble. Start listening to music way outside your normal sphere and use that music as inspiration.
Buffy… I have to give Philippe Perret some credit here. I have basically used their answer to help structure how I wrote mine. I basically just went into more detail, added a few points and smoothed out some of how Philippe wrote theirs. So bare with me it should be a fast read that will interest you and formally challenge you to give yourself your best try so to speak.
To produce a good song at first can be hard, very hard. To get your content into the ears, minds, and hearts, takes a bit of work and the ability to understand the difference between positive, and negative criticism, and plain opinion. As well as how to handle each. You most likely won't succeed the first time you try. Maybe not even by the 10th time. As with any new thing people try to accomplish, good practice skills, including consistent practicing, is one of the best strategies to achieve success, with just about anything that you attempt.
In any case, you will never succeed, if you just stop or throw out everything that you produce. Or if you just refuse to finish something, part way, half way, or mostly done. It's quite possible that you have already written many songs that were amazing, but because you threw them away, they never, and will never get to see the light of day.
Stop thinking into it too much. Stop judging yourself (too fast). There are plenty of songs, that even the creator, or a member or more of the band playing the music, don't really care for and may even totally dislike performing. Yet those same songs are found in the top 100's, even the top 10's lists. There's even known stories of songs that when creating the song the band loved it. But by the time it came to performing them live the band absolutely could not stand even hearing the name of it, because of how things went in the studio, and unfortunately for them, those same songs are crowd favorites and are almost demanded to be played. Want examples of those types of stories? Listen to archived interviews from Howard Stern and you'll find plenty, I'm sure. I'm not always wild about all of Mr. Sterns shows, but his interviews he conducts are amazing and unprecedented. If you don't already know of him you can find him on SIRIUS Satellite Radio on channels Howard 100 and 101. So it's said and known I have no affiliation with SIRIUS Satellite Radio or Howard Stern in any way shape or form. Anything said is of my own opinion and I take no responsibility for them, nor they for me.
Looking at this issue a couple ways will help tremendously. First off, are you able to say that you enjoy every single piece of music ever written, recorded, and produced, from every genre? Probably not, or you probably wouldn't be so hard on yourself. Second, do you ever get an unbiased opinion on stuff that you do write, and, or record? I mean, not your family, and certainly not your friends. [friends can swing harshly in both directions. They either are overly supportive and love a polished turd just because you, their good friend imagined and then created something from seemingly nothing. Or they will outwardly trash talk it and negatively criticize your works, usually out of a weird jealousy no one ever really wants to possess and rarely will admit to.] But have you shared your works with acquaintances that will be honest about the piece even if they are not a fan of the genre?
Make a deal with the world. Over the course of one year, write a song each day. A single song a day. With an 8 or 16 bars for the verse and 8 or 16 bars for the refrain. If you write lyrics, try to produce one verse and the refrain. At first, and any time you seem to be stuck, keep things simple, as simple as possible. Should you run out of ideas, create pieces about commercials or shows you see on TV, or hear on the commercial free (even though that announcement is a commercial) radio. Open a magazine and at random create one about an article or image contained within. Heck, if you have to, open a dictionary and choose 10-20 words at random and see if you can make them fit together. Regardless of your method, log and file for keeping, song a day. Or a song a couple of days in the beginning. Not a song a week (it's not enough) at least 5 songs for every 7 day period, for one year.
Don't think about yesterday's song, today. Yesterday is gone, but it's not in the trash. We learn from history, and events from the past can really teach us some unexpected solutions to new types of problems. So, stop judging yourself so quickly. You know the saying, 'You are your own worst critic.' Meaning your a bad critic for yourself. Don't be afraid of criticism. Just learn to look for constructive criticism and shrug off harsh demeaning opinions. Everyone has plenty of opinions about almost everything, good and bad ones. Opinions don't mean much though. Criticism will almost always come with positive, and negative responses about what your presenting. Don't base all of your decisions on only one view, or reviewer. Do you understand what I'm saying here? Just produce every song or lyric that you create and keep them in a folder that can be labeled for everyday you make new material. The goal being 1 song every single day for one year.
A year is a long time for many people, for others it's seemingly not enough. So to help you make your goal, set aside a day every 3 months. During that day review your work for that quarter. (a 3 month period of time) Do it 'with' someone and not by yourself. Also no matter how awful or amazing you and any others that review your works (I would suggest 3 to 10 other people with a variety of tastes in music), feel they are, do not do anything but store exactly what you had originally put in the folder. No editing, no tossing out, and no uploading to the internet for sale. Just take notes on what you think and feel about the work you've done and take notes on whatever criticisms you get from those whom reviewed those works. Then apply whatever you've learned and seems appropriate, to the works you create over the next quarter. At the end of your year, with hopefully as close to 365 different pieces of music as you can manage to create. Take it all, the good, and the bad, as well as, some that will be likely in between, and see what kind of collaboration of your material that may be possible. Take your time with that part. Let it be fun, and maybe even challenging. Let yourself see what YOU are capable of. See what kinds of themes arise from throughout your journey. Odds are there will be several pieces that will arise from your year long adventure through music, that will be embraced by many people in the world, and who knows, you might even make yourself proud.
So the deal with the world is for you to work on music in a focused manner every day for one year (give or take a few) and be able to show your work. The rewards will be that you will be a stronger musician, lyricist, and producer, and though, no guarantees can be made further, there still would stand a chance that you'll finally get that break you've been looking for.
I hope you give it a try. Hey, even this (loosely calling it) challenge is music based. Do you see how? I'll give you a hint. It's got to do with timing signatures. So if you do give it a go, you'll be setting off on a good note (pun intended)! Most importantly though, keep it fun and interesting and you'll do fine I'm sure.
I wish you the best.
Oh and just in case; 4/3 (quarter/3 months. We can call a year a bar maybe?)