I like to think of composition in music like developing a character in a story. One of the most interesting things that can happen to a character in a story is to undergo an unexpected change. All of a sudden the protagonist breaks free from what you would expect them to do and does something completely out of character which changes the whole course of the plot.
When writing music, composers like myself often deal with a form of “writer’s block.” Often times to overcome this block, we deal with different permutations of the melody, develop an idea of little further, or just let it be and come back to it later. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to find inspiration to continue an idea. What if you imagine the piece of music you’re working on is like character in the story? What if this character undergoes an unexpected change?
In music, unexpected changes can be a shift in the key center or tonality, a change of meter, a new melodic phrase, etc. In composition, a certain amount of fearlessness is required. If what you’re exploring doesn’t work out, you can always delete it. That’s the beauty found within the creative process.
Next time you are working on a piece of music and find yourself stuck, unleash the screenwriter within yourself and figure out which character you have been dealing with all along, and what sudden change are they going to bring to the story to create drama and go where nobody, even you, had expected. Good luck, and write on!