Getting back into creative headspace is extremely tough. The struggle towards the breakthrough, though, is a great opportunity to learn how to be more productive than ever.
”Creative time is short, and you have to move fast.” (taken from Making music)
Well, I thought this moment would come sooner or later anyway.
The classic case of ”writer’s block”
I had laid down a theme melody for the track. I even had a track structure that I made in the previous post. Unfortunately I had nothing to say or add to the original part. Every new note or sound felt shitty and didn’t lead me any further with the composition process.
It was as if I had build an empty house. I had the foundations, the walls and roof in place, but didn’t know how to decorate the insides.
This went on for a whole week and the pressure cooker (also known as my head) started to boil over, as you can see in this very informative GIF:
After already struggling for a week with unproductivity, getting back to the project over and over again felt intimidating and uncomfortable. I can only describe it as… Well, imagine if you asked Frodo to go back to get the ring from Mordor.
I had to let out some steam by confessing the issue and seek help.
Step 1: Letting out the steam
A promising place for an outlet (and help) seemed to be the IDMforums, which I had joined at the beginning of this project. It’s a community of electronic music makers that I’ve found to be really helpful and inspiring during my (yet) short membership period.
After seeking advice from other members, it became clear that this kind of creative block was a pretty common problem for most music makers. And happily enough, by putting up a thread about my issue, I found out some really helpful tactics to stay productive in my project:
”I usually find what works best is to loop the part I already have and then just try out different sounds / instruments and play along with it without any expectations and see where that takes me..and it usually leads me on to the next step in the project..something clicks or sounds cool and then I focus on that part and begin the process all over again.”
by Ambient Mechanics
In addition to receiving practical advice to power through the creative blocks in music making process, I also got a great advice on how to avoid them in the future more effectively!
”Consistantly working on something to do with your music—better yet scheduling it at the same days/times—will make it easier for you and your brain to get into that writing mode. It isn’t easy to do and I’m not good at it, but with out consistancy and/or a schedule your brain will have to do much more warming up.”
Step 2: Taking a break
Something that came up repeatedly in my thread was that it’s important to not worry too much.
So it was time to take a deep breath and sleep one more night to clear my head.
Step 3: Wait for it…
The next day I got back to the task at hand. I sat down and opened the project file again. I took Ambient Mechanics’ advice of patiently browsing, searching and trying different sounds that were at my reach.
And then the right sound came by.
Step 4: Ka-ching!
Once I hit the first notes of that sound, I was lit. This was the much needed fuel to my creative gasoline.
In a literal outburst of ideas that lasted for 5-10 minutes, I came up with several new harmonies that not only suited the theme melody, but also were perfect transitions to new sections!
How to avoid blocks in future?
I learned that once those golden, creative moments come along, it’s important to seize them by capturing every sound, note, rhythm, hit and noise I make then and there.
And I’m actually glad that I struggled because it was a great opportunity for me to learn how to be more productive.
I’m now more aware of what environment works for me the best, how to practice creativity and how to organize my daily schedule to support my music making or blog writing processes.
I can see the finishing line
Hey! Thanks to overcoming this struggle, I’m now closer than ever to finishing my own music project.
Next step is to get back to the drum kit and practice the new parts, and finally start practicing the damn thing live!
Cover photo by Samppa Fjäder.