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Writer's Block Ahead! Use Caution

"Come on, pencil. Make words!" Spongebob pleads in the cartoon episode. Instructed to write an 800-word essay, he finds every excuse to get distracted, and after hours pass, has only written the word "The." Our porous friend experienced what many refer to as writer’s block.

Writer’s block is a struggle almost all writer’s and creative’s inevitably face. Dealing with it can feel overwhelming, but there's comfort in knowing that you're not the only one facing it. There’s even more comfort in knowing that you can move past it!



 

I got to talk to Kelsey Montanez, a local legend and winner of Chicago Reader’s Best Pop Artist and Singer-Songwriter of 2023.


“Writer’s block is something I know very, very well unfortunately,” Kelsey says. “I was in a block for years before I started working on my current album. I think the key when the well runs dry is to fill your life with other inspirations outside of your own work. Dig for new music that inspires you.

Read fascinating books. Go to concerts. Meet different kinds of people you wouldn’t ordinarily hang out with. Take the pressure off yourself to be ‘the artist’ for a while and just go out and experience life and other people's art. Creativity is a process and you have to learn to trust it. The well will slowly start to fill up inch by inch without you even noticing, and then suddenly you’ll realize it’s overflowing and you have all kinds of new material and experiences to draw from.”


Montanez just released her 7th single “Infinite Bloom” in February and continually gigs around the chicago area with her band.


I then got the chance to talk to Broken Record’s own Jenny Scara who just released her breakthrough debut album “Love You Always” to get her insight on writer’s block. 


For me, writer’s block is probably the most frustrating aspect of being a songwriter.” Jenny says. “It’s really easy to feel in your head and defeated about it. When I was younger, going through writer's block was difficult and sometimes made me feel like I would never write a song I liked ever

again. I’d try to force it out, or I'd get super frustrated and just abandon it entirely for months. Something I started to notice as time went on was that it always comes back around, and that ‘next great song’ always comes through again. As I've gotten older, I've realized that most of the time, writer's block comes around in my life when I'm neglecting to be honest with myself and feel my feelings. It comes when I'm being overly critical of myself, when I'm too worried about the opinions of others, and when I'm generally just moving too fast through life. Now, when I notice I'm having writer's block, it’s a signal to me that I need to slow down, feel through my feelings, and take care of the little things. Once I create some space and lean back into myself, the songs end up flowing right through and writing themselves.”


 

So, whether you are a thriving local artist or a sponge living in a pineapple under the sea, writer's block is a universal struggle. With the tips and insight provided by both Kelsey and Jenny, you now have what it takes to move past it. Pick that pencil back up!

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