When writer’s block hits, we feel like we have lost control of our pool of inspiration. In this post I am going to share a way to help you avoid it.
Most of the time writer’s block can be avoided by having a direction/purpose. In addition, purpose will also lead us to explore more often and make us focus only on the things that really matter. Saving time while making us better producers / musicians… Sounds like a no brainer, I’ll take it! But how?
The answer: don’t rush into your DAW, Piano, MPC, etc, take some time to choose a direction before you start working: what is the goal of this musical piece? what do you want to achieve?
Here are 2 examples of thought processes and questions that can guide us when planning our goal:
It can take place if you are writing music for clubs:
Once you have the goal you want to achieve you can start experimenting, the only difference is that now you have a direction, so you will not find yourself searching aimlessly for inspiration.
The direction you chose will also open the doors to new research, let’s say for example that I want to create a Trap song but I decided I want to create accents in the kicks with bigger 808s only on the first beats of every second measure since in my mind it creates a certain feeling that I’m after. Some will mix some samples until they get the result they want, others might get into the territory of psycho-acoustics (what makes us believe that a sound is “bigger”).
Let’s delve deeper into the creative process
When we fire up our DAW and start working without planning, we fall into our old patterns, we let our habits lead our creative process.
Starting up your DAW and just trying to find something new to work on is the equivalent of walking aimlessly in the mall hoping to find something you like. How long will it take you to walk into all the stores to know everything they have to offer? And besides, who said that the thing you are looking for is in that mall?
But there are more limitations…
DAWs are limited by their interface and design, there is only so much they can fit inside a screen, if you’re counting on your DAW capabilities, your creativity will be based on what appear on the screen.
In the same way we are using sample libraries to invoke a creative path, but that way is limited by our sample library, you can’t have all the samples in the world and even if you do, you can’t go through all of them every time you search for inspiration, it will take you hours to find the right sample. A better way is to think of a feeling you want to inspire and research what can create this feeling musically.
That’s why having a purpose works
The brain (imagination) has much less limitations than any DAW in the world and we can imagine a result much faster than we can achieve it in our DAW, that creates a better flow for our creativity. I can imagine an orchestra playing expressively much faster than I will find the right sounds and program the expressions in my DAW, I can hear a new designed sound in my mind much faster than I will achieve it in my synthesizer. In our brain there are no menus, no need to click 3 times to get to the right tool, you just imagine whatever you want and it’s there.
Everything you read, learn, hear, becomes a source of inspiration in your mind, it’s that powerful.
That means that every sound, every movie, every feeling, everything you’ve ever been exposed to, is now in your toolbox. If you liked the strings of Lord of the Rings, you don’t need to search a string library that sounds the same in order to experiment with them, you already have them in your mind. You should make it a habit to listen to great works that have an impact on you and learn from them, they will inspire you and give you a better perspective.
The only limitation of our brain is the knowledge and experience it holds, so if you want to manipulate the time signature to support a certain feeling, you need to hear at least several different time signatures so your mind has something to work with.
It’s just another tool
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play with your DAW and enjoy its amazing musical capabilities, it actually works great. Many great composers / producers work this way and they have amazing results, so think of purpose as another tool you can use whenever you need to.
With this knowledge you can improve your own routine, for example:
You can create a sample library that only contains exotic music genres whose musical elements you like and listen to them when you want to inject some magic from other genres than the main genre of the project you’re working on.
Another way is to have sample libraries arranged by emotions so you will know exactly where to go to start researching before your next project.