You Gave Me The Answer – Do you experience ‘writer’s block’?

Photo of Paul in his home studio, photo taken by Mary McCartney

Out of all the questions we get sent for Paul’s website Q&A, many are looking for advice or insights into songwriting - and with good reason! Paul has previously asserted that he doesn’t have a magic formula: inspiration comes to him in dreams, in conversations, and in his everyday experiences.

With so many hit songs under his belt, it can be hard to imagine a moment where music and lyrics aren’t simply spilling out of Paul. It must happen every second of the day! So, we were intrigued to read a different kind of songwriting question, posted by Mogi in the Paul McCartney Official Fan Group on Facebook…

Mogi on Facebook: How do you deal with writers’ block?

Paul: I don’t really get it. I’m quite lucky with that - touch wood! I hardly ever sit down and go, ‘I’m going to write’. It’s nearly always when I’ve got some time and there’s nothing else I particularly want or need to do. I can just sit down and noodle around with something because it’s come from my own desire and not somebody else’s, or of a requirement. It often comes reasonably easy.

Sometimes I might block out the words in order to get the tune and shape of the song and then think,‘God, they’re bloody awful those words, I’ll have to fix them!’ Then I’ll revisit them and get some great lyrics, and that’s always a good feeling.  

So, I don’t really have writer’s block. I’ve been blessed with that. I sometimes tell the story of John and I having written just short of three hundred songs, and every time we sat down to write we came up with a song. Which is incredible! Do you ever have the opposite problem, where you need to stop what you’re doing because you had a sudden idea and must write it down? 

Paul: Sometimes, yes. I’ve got endless bits of paper stuffed in places, which one of these days I swear I’m going to get to! But most things these days are written on my phone. 

I find that I don’t have to worry too much about writing, unless I’ve got a deadline. I’m lucky that I’m my own boss! I was talking to a young singer recently, who asked me, ‘Can you stipulate what you want to write? Can you decide what you want to do, and what you want to record?’ I said, ‘Yeah! Why, can’t you?’ And they said, ‘No! Not so much these days’. Because there’s a lot more involvementnow, with record labels and people saying, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that…‘ 

So, I’m very lucky in that respect too. I can decide what I want to do and when I want to do it, and that helps with the writing. 

And we’re lucky that we get to listen to all these great songs! So many, in fact, that we created themonthly ‘Sticking Out Of My Back Pocket’ playlist to highlight some of Paul’s deeper cuts – check it out here.

If you have a question for Paul, ask it via the official Facebook group or by tagging @paulmccartney on social media. For more information about Paul and MPL’s official social media accounts, take a look at our advice for staying safe online here.