When in doubt, just CREATE!
Today I will touch a bit on the creative process, and writer’s/producer’s block.
Inevitably, we’ve all hit a point where we feel burned out, un-inspired, or maybe we’ve started a pretty cool new track, but have gotten stuck at one particular point (maybe it’s finding a new melody, a better-sounding snare drum, EQ, etc). By just “busting on through,” (trying to just keep moving on when you get stuck) or even just forcing yourself to finish a track sometimes, you can facilitate the overall process (remember, you can always do re-edits and polish it up later).
CONSIDER DOING “SKETCH SESSIONS”
Artist and writers do this, so too can music producers. Just set up certain blocks of time (you could do it either regularly / on a certain day of the week, or occasionally) where you just let yourself flow: start off with a cool drum loop with a basic melody or bassline, and dabble around with a few ideas. Maybe record it, or not. Sometimes this is how great tracks develop! A lot of times producers will find great starting points for future awesome tracks when they look back at these sketches…. (maybe a sequenced melody they had done before combined with a neat new oscillator tone that they’ve just found inspires them to create a really cool combo of musical elements, or maybe a great template can come out of various jam sessions….)
If you do these “sketch sessions” regularly they can help improve your overall “artistic rhythm” and also help to make you more productive. (I’ve heard an interview with Aphex Twin before where he mentioned that he does stuff like this: he’ll have all-night jam sessions, just playing around with music and various sounds and synths. He said something like [paraphrase] “there is so much music in me, I just have to get it out, I could never get it all out.” (So I’m sure from these countless hours of improvs he has done, he has culled a lot of nuggets that he has later polished into gems :D)
COMMIT YOURSELF TO A SET SCHEDULE OR TIMELINE
Again this one comes up (I touched on some of this in my previous article, “Developing a professional mindset”). You have no doubt heard of artists who commit to doing like at least one track a week for a given time (our good friend, Z8phyR), or even one album a month for an entire year! (UK artist, Napoleon). This kind of self-imposed rigor and discipline can really hone your creative juices and
“build your producer’s game up.” (Eventually, it can also help you reduce the time it takes to do basic tasks, or complete finished tracks)
On the other hand (especially for dealing with writer’s/producer’s block), we have INSTINCT. Working with a sense of perfectionism is great, in that it drives you to create nothing but the best quality work, but at the same time, it can sometimes get in the way of our overall creative flow. Example: when I create podcasts for Electrofans, I will sometimes get stuck on the exact placement of a track in the mix following a previous track. I will fiddle around with dragging the track forwards and backwards, playing and re-playing the mix, only to find that, maybe at least 60-70% of the time, after several “Undo”s and “Redos,” the spot that sounds the best to me was the first one I took a stab at :). (I’ve heard that the song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin was recorded on the first and only take)
In closing, by doing anything regularly, repeatedly, we get better at it. Perhaps some of the best work is created from a well-crafted blueprint, but where generous room is left for flexibility and improv, which can lead to sometimes unexpected and exciting results (while still maintaining that great quality we are looking for, and also helping to increase our output!) Get out there and create 😉