Read Nick Cave’s Tips on How to Rise Above Writer’s Block
"The thing you must hold on to through these difficult periods, as hard as it may be, is this — when something’s not coming, it’s coming"
The songwriter — answering the fan question, “What do you do when the lyrics just aren’t coming?” — examined how many musicians misdiagnose their own slow pace as a blanket lack of inspiration.
“In my experience, lyrics are almost always seemingly just not coming,” he wrote in the lengthy letter. “This is the tearful ground zero of songwriting — at least for some of us. This lack of motion, this sense of suspended powerlessness, can feel extraordinarily desperate for a songwriter. But the thing you must hold on to through these difficult periods, as hard as it may be, is this — when something’s not coming, it’s coming. It took me many years to learn this, and to this day I have trouble remembering it.”
He described the basic concept of lyrics “not coming” as a “category error,” noting, “Lyrics are always coming. They are always pending. They are always on their way toward us. But often they must journey a great distance and over vast stretches of time to get there. They advance through the rugged terrains of lived experience, battling to arrive at the end of our pen.”
Cave also encouraged the fan to keep pushing: “Our task is both simple and extremely difficult. Our task is to remain patient and vigilant and to not lose heart — for we are the destination.”
After postponing a planned tour with the Bad Seeds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cave wrote in a March letter about his impulse to create during a time of crisis. He discussed a number of potential creative ideas, like writing an “isolation album” or conducting a songwriting tutorial.