How to fight writer’s block with GarageBand

I recently published my fourth e-book, a choose-your-own-adventure style story called Death by Halloween. As my self-imposed deadline of mid-late October began to loom, I was forced to dedicate most of my waking hours to sitting in front of the computer, struggling to put words on a page. During this period, I used several little tricks that seemed to get the words flowing a little faster.

One of these tricks (I’ll describe the others in later posts) involved using GarageBand.

I should note that I’m not endorsing GarageBand. It just happens to be the program that I used. This trick could no doubt be performed with any number of other apps or programs. If you know of any alternatives, feel free to post them below. For the record, these instructions are for GarageBand on a Mac laptop. If your tech is different, these instructions may have to be altered accordingly.

The trick is this:

Step one: Plug a set of headphones into your computer and stick them in your ears. Make sure the volume isn’t too high.

Step two: Open Garageband and create a new project. As far as I know, the type of project you create is unimportant (I tend to use “Acoustic Instrument”).

Step three: Once the project has been created, select one of the “tracks” in the top left corner of the window. If you are doing an “Acoustic Instrument” project, there will probably only be one.

Step four: Look in the bottom right corner of the window. You should see some boxes that say things like “Input Source,” “Monitor” and “Recording Level.” If you do not see this, make sure you select “Master Track” in the top right corner of the window and make sure the “i” button (view/hide track info) in the bottom right corner has been selected.

Step five: Make sure your “Input Source” is set to “Built-in Input.” (Note: This refers to the internal microphone of your computer. If you don’t have one, this will not work. If you have an external mic, you may want to remove it for best results.)

Step six: In the “Monitor” box, select “On.” If you’ve done this correctly, you should hear the sounds around you coming in through your headphones.

Step seven: Open up your favourite word processor and start typing, adjusting the volume to a level that works for you.

For me, hearing the sounds of my keystrokes amplified directly into my ears always seems to get the creative juices flowing. There’s a certain intimacy to it, as if the click of the keys is coming from inside my head. It allows me an almost meditative focus on each keystroke.

This might not work for anyone else, but it is definitely one of the things that works for me. Let me know what you think in the comments.


David Warkentin is a Canadian writer. He has self-published four books on Amazon, all of which can be found here.

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