Sometimes you can just get stuck in the middle of the piece, or even not know where to start. It would be lovely to think that inspiration will just strike at the right point and then the whole piece will fall into place but, at least for me, that is rarely the case, although I’ll often be able to make a decent start from what I feel is a good idea. What I try to instil in my students, though, and attempt to stick to is the process of working one’s way out of blockages through simple exercises and gentle sketching.
What this comes down to is using transformative techniques on the most basic material, often written to some kind of parameter (mood, mode and so on), and then seeing where to go from there. Even free-from compositional dabbling like this can result in decent material emerging in a fairly short space of time. Go running with those results and suddenly you have a section of a composition pretty much good to go on to the next stage. I have been doing exactly that tonight, tucked up in my corner in the Dusthole, writing melodies, rhythms, harmonies, and recasting them to come up with something all the more interesting than the sum of the parts. What piece these results might go into is not yet clear, but any kind of writing is good for the mind and for the technique, so , even if the material is destined to lie on my hard drive for years to come, at least it will have had some kind of positive effect on my writing and my technique in general.