Being a musician (or any type of creative person) means that writers block is inevitable. It’s going to happen at some point. You’re sitting there staring at a the same drum loop in a project file for hours on end, trawling through your brain to try and find some glimmer of inspiration in the hopes that you can get down even the most basic sketch for a track. While being stuck in a creative rut can be incredibly frustrating, there are a few things which you can do to help get your mojo back and make rage quits a thing of the past.
This is an idea which sounds totally preposterous, especially if you have deadlines looming over your head. However, sometimes the answer is to put everything down, take a break and return with a fresh mind and fresh ears. This could mean chilling out with a cup of tea or going out for a walk. Often times surrounding yourself with other things will allow you to return to your project feeling refreshed and ready to tackle it head on.
Think Outside the Loop
Instead of focusing on your four or eight bar loop and trying to get it sounding perfect, paint a bigger picture. What are you trying to convey through the piece of music? Is there a story behind it? Try thinking about the loop in the context of the rest of the song and build from there. Focus on the overall structure and how you’re going to build and release tension throughout the track. Giving your track this focus should make it a bit easier to write in a structured manner and hopefully make your piece of music, well, a piece of music.
Get a New Plugin
This is something which, although often overlooked, can spark a surge of creativity. It doesn’t have to be something like an expensive new soft synth, just something that’s going to change up your work flow a little bit. Keep an eye out for flash sales on places like the Waves website and take advantage of them. A musician’s plugin folder is like their tool kit and selectively adding plugins that can change up your work flow a little bit can often be the answer for creative block.
Get Some New Samples
Similar to getting a new plugin, buying some new samples can often point you in the right direction. Especially nowadays that sample packs are organised by genre, tempo and even key, you’re almost guaranteed to find something in there that’ll get the creative juices flowing. Snobby producers on their high horses will outwardly protest the idea of using sample packs when making music, but if you get creative and chop up and resample loops or hits you should be saved from the prying ears of such people.
This is another one that’ll you read and think we’ve lost our minds especially as we’ve just advised you to expand your toolkit. But bare with us. Often times having an incredibly large arsenal of soft synths and hard drives filled with samples can become extremely overwhelming. Trying to limit yourself to using one or two soft synths, a handful of effects plugins and a select amount of samples in a project can force you to be creative with what you’re doing. Save yourself sifting through every sample on your hard drive and create a new folder with your favourite kicks, claps, loops etc. and put the rest of your samples to one side.
Listen to Other Music
There’s a famous saying that while good artists copy, great artists steal. While we’re not condoning the idea of blatantly replicating another track, it is certainly beneficial to gain inspiration from other productions. They don’t even have to be in the same genre. Focusing on the structure and how different elements compliment each other in other peoples music is a sure fire way of sparking up some creativity.
Top Tip: Use well mixed and mastered tracks as a point of reference for the track you’re working on. Drop your reference track into an audio channel and put a spectrum analyser on there to see how each sound correlates to one another. This is also handy for structuring your track.
Writers block is something every artist has to endure, it’s all part of the game. The creative cycle can be incredibly exhausting on our brain and sometimes all we need is a bit of time to re-charge. This can take one hour or one week. Just remember to be patient and stay focused!
Until next time,