The Songwriting Deprivation Tank Technique

Categories Productivity

Have we all heard of these crazy sensory deprivation tanks that people are using these days?  If not, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“An isolation tank, originally called a sensory deprivation tank (a.k.a. float tank, flotation tank or sensory attenuation tank) is a lightless, soundproof tank with high epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) content filled with salt water at skin temperature, in which individuals float.”

Pretty wild. I have never used one (always wanted to), but I hear you feel laser focused and electrically energized when you come out.

So it had me thinking, could I apply the same concepts to songwriting?

I put together a challenge for myself, and what resulted was amazing.

So amazing, I am going to blog about the technique here.

As the title says, I call it:

The Songwriting Deprivation Technique Tank.

The idea is simple. Go for a period time completely avoiding any form of songwriting/creation. When you come out the other end, you will have the creative juices flowing.

For 7 days, stick to the following rules:

  • No writing lyrics/rhymes (No phone notes, notebooks, etc.)
  • No thinking about lyric ideas (even in your head)
    • This will be especially hard. When lyric ideas start shooting into your head, just shut it down, find something to distract you.
  • No writing down/recording instrumental musical ideas (this includes beats if you produce)

One Caveat, I recommend starting with 7 days of no songwriting/lyric writing. If you are someone who only writes every once in a while, maybe try 14 days. If you writing fervently every day, maybe start small with 3 days. trying 7 days first, then experimenting with longer/shorter breaks.

So what do you do while you are in this Songwriting Deprivation Tanks?

I usually do three things:

  1. Learn new music!

    Remember when we used to just be music fans not concerned with the work of making our own music? Take a vacation back to those days.

    Learn new songs, learn old songs you have forgetting, study their chords, study their lyrics, study their form. Most of all have fun.

    One key, as you are deep diving as listeners in the oceans of music, I bet you’ll have tons of musical or lyrical you want to record or write down. As hard as it will be, let these ideas fade away.

    Do not write them down! I repeat DO NOT write them down. Any ideas worth keeping will still be stuck with you when the week is up.

  2. Read, Read, Read

    As a songwriter, reading is one of the best things you can do. Songwriting is different than writing a book, you can dance around rules of grammar and sentence structure.

    Buttttt at the end of the day. We are still writers. And what do writers do?

    They read.Books, Poems, Magazines, whatever you like.

    Break out of your comfort zone and read things you normally wouldn’t.

    It will help expand your writing.

  3. Watch Movies


    Yes, this week your homework is to watch a movie.

    What could be better! Movies are a great place to look for themes, song ideas, and even lyrical details.

    Movies tell stories and good songs do the same.

    I like to think of my songs as movie scripts, so watching movies is just another way to learn. Same with the reading, watch all types of movies Blockbusters, Indie films, documentaries.

    The deep character development and exciting plot twists of major movies are all things that could contribute to engaging songs.

When Do I Use This?

I do this everyone once in a while when I am feeling stuck with my writing, or just at a plateau. But really, you could do this whenever you want to, and it will always work.

Final Thoughts:

So that is it. I know it will be tough to hold yourself back, but trust me. When your 7 days are up, and you finally get to put your pen to the paper, it will be like a race horse bursting out of the starting gates.

This is something I create, so try it, play around with different ideas. Go without songwriting for different periods. Try a week, try a month if you are so inclined! It can even work on the micro level. IF you are stuck, take an hour break. Anyways I am ranting.

Go out and experiment with different lengths of time in the “Songwriting Deprivation Tank” and report back to me.

Your’s in putting the pen to the paper,