Every artist, creator or thinker is faced with the same everlasting fear of the creative block. No feeling can compare with the joy of inspiration and productivity - yet its ephemeral nature can make it a hard place to find.
Musicians and producers are no exception. Not only does our craft rely heavily on technology, but that also implies that our creative process is strongly tied and dependent on it.
This guide will give you some ideas on how to improve and boost your creative process and, hopefully, help you stay in that sweet spot.
Clear the Clutter in your Setup
We’ve all been there. Too much choice or too many options can actually affect your productivity and make you less creative. Endless scrolling through massive sample libraries or too much gear cluttering your workspace can make it harder to focus.
Take the time to get rid of what you don’t use, and take advantage of that opportunity to ask yourself… Why am I not using this? Switching up your sounds and tools is an effective way of boosting your inspiration and getting those creative juices flowing.
Tidying up your workspace will tidy up your mind. Taking the time to realise what is useful and what isn’t will help you select the right equipment for you next creative round. Using tools that are multi-functional, such as the MOD Duo, can help make your setup more compact and, therefore, help you stay more focused on the essential. You might even end up selling some gear to help you invest in other devices and libraries to renew your music-making tools.
Collaborate with a Different Mind
Increasing your inspiration and productivity can also be achieved through collaboration. Working with someone else helps you step out of your comfort zone and learn about new techniques and music-making processes.
Yet, collaborating with like-minded musicians who will, most likely, have a similar style and ideas might not be the optimal way of broadening your horizons. Instead, try having a jam session with someone who makes something completely different than you. The further away from your style, the better. You’d be surprised at what could happen.
Introducing unusual elements to your music will help you get out of your routine and boost your creativity. For instance, if you are an analog-head and are accustomed to using lots of synths, try sampling as a starting point for a track. This might trigger your creativity in new ways and help you overcome a block or redundant routine. If, on the other hand, you are more of a digital lover and use a majority of MIDI, plugins and emulations, why not try playing around with audio a bit more? Try recording some sounds around your house and create your own drum kit or your own synth. This will add a more personal touch to your sound and help you channel your creativity in new ways.
This might seem to be a bit of an unusual statement, but it could help you more than you think. Receiving feedback on work in progress or simply sharing your music to others can be a great way to help you combat creative blocks and feel more inspired.
Send your tracks to fellow producers and music enthusiasts and ask them to point out what they like and what they didn’t like as much. It might help you hear your work differently.
Producing at home and independently can be a bit isolating, and finding the right people to share your work with in the hope of gathering constructive criticism can be tricky. Going to dedicated networking events in order to meet fellow musicians and industry professionals located in your area will help you grow your connections and provide you with the right environment.
It’s easy to lose inspiration when doing everything the same way, in the same order with the same intention. Experimenting with techniques and challenging yourself by adding a few constraints to your production process might help boost your creativity. Here are a few suggestions worth trying out:
Use sounds you don’t like
Using similar sounds which work for you might be comfortable, but it definitely won’t help you think outside the box. Switch things up - push yourself to use sounds you don’t normally go for. Who knows, a wobble bass in an ambient track might become your signature.
Push yourself to finish something today
If you struggle to finish tracks, this might help you. Disregard every little thing your perfectionist mind tells you isn’t right. Accept the fatality that your mix doesn’t sound as clear as you’d like it to. Finish that track you’ve been dragging on for months today, and move on to the next project. The more you do, the better you get.
Limit your instruments and sounds to only a handful
In that case, less is more. For instance, limit your tools to one synth, one sample pack, and an 808 bass. Try to get every sound possible out of these few options, and watch how much you can actually do. In Ableton, for example, working only with the Operator as sound source can be surprisingly productive.
Start with what you usually do last (except mixing, of course)
If you struggle with getting the inspiration to start a track, try producing differently by starting with something that you usually do later on in your process. For instance, instead of starting your song with a typical chord-progression on the MIDI Keyboard, try programming a drum-loop or a nice groovy bass line. Then, build the rest of the track around that starting point. It might tickle your creativity in different ways and help you feel more inspired.
Accept your Music (Stop Overthinking)
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, accept what you make for what it is. Not implying that you shouldn’t challenge yourself to get better, but sometimes, over-comparing or too much questioning can lead to feeling discouraged and not moving forward. Your sound is your sound - only you can create it. It might not be where you want it to be yet, but accepting it will only help you be in that creative mindset and further-develop your own style.
What are your tips for boosting your creativity? Let us know in the comments!