So let’s talk about this little thing we call writer’s block, or beat block, if you prefer. I prefer writer’s block because in some form or another we are writing something, be it music, words, lyrics, melodies, chord sequences, drum patterns, whatever. As Aspiring Producers, there is more pressure on us than ever to always be on point and at the top of our game and never create a bad track. However, sometimes it happens, we’d be lying if we said it didn’t. Sometimes we all go through phases where it might take us a little while to regain our best form and start creating those great tracks again.
The first thing you have to realize is…. it’s okay. It happens to all of us at some stage or another. It’s impossible to stay creative 24/7 and always be churning out the best music of your life, it’s just not possible, and there may be times when you feel like you are in a slump and are struggling to get out. So, today I want to share with you a few things that I do when trying to get out of this slump and to really beat that writer’s block.
1. Go for a walk.
Yup, this is always the first thing I do when I feel that writer’s block coming on. It’s just about really refreshing your body and your mind and distancing yourself from the frustration that you may be feeling, so that when you come to sit back down again you are refreshed and focused. Another one I will sometimes do too is to do the washing up, hah. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Do some task around the house that will help take your mind away from that frustration and give you something else to focus on for a little while. It doesn’t have to be long, sometimes even 5/10 minutes will make a huge difference, but do something to take you out of your studio and take your mind off the problem.
2. Discover new sounds.
This is a huge one. Always look to discover new sounds to help inspire you to create and to bring you out of that slump. (and might I have we have some pretty dope ones here on theAspiringProducer Store!) It might just need to be something small, such as a drum loop, or some new snare samples, or even some new piano samples, but try and discover new sounds to help you break the slump you may be in and inspire you to create something new.
3. Listen to different genres of music.
As Producers we should ALWAYS listen to different genres of music, don’t get pigeonholed into either listening to one genre, or creating in one genre. Broaden your horizons and your listening habits and make sure you soak up as many different types of music as possible. It will always help you to stay creative and inspired. I’m not suggesting you should go and start producing some hardcore-newwave-funk-metal-reggae fusion if you prefer producing EDM, or whatever, but by listening to other genres of music, you will naturally soak up certain aspects from everything you listen to and the best thing about being a producer is you have no barriers to what you can create. Those inspirations you soak up can be used on your next track to create something quite special.
4. Switch up your Production Routine.
Sometimes it’s easy for us as producers to get stuck in certain production routines, by that I mean we always start with drums, then we add a synth on top, then we add a baseline etc. It can be very formulaic after a while if you’re not careful. To create something different, switch up that routine, start with something you would never think to start with normally and just see where it takes you. Or if you don’t normally sample, then start with a sample and see what you can build. (although, let’s be honest, if you can help it … don’t sample, but more on that later…) Just do something so that you’re not just following the same pattern you always do.
5. Take the 10 Minute Challenge.
Set a timer for 10 minutes, open up for favourite DAW (hello, Logic!) start the timer and just work as quickly as you can to create as much of a track as possible. Doesn’t have to be anything specific, just create. This self imposed time limit means that we really take away any conscious decision making when it comes to creating and we just simply focus on what sounds and feels right. It’s about as easy as it gets as a producer. Keep repeating this task over and over, you’ll be surprised what you come up with. When you’re 10 minutes is over, save it and move on to something else, don’t dwell on it right now, you can always come back to it later. This stops you from getting sucked in to that ‘black hole’ mentality where you pour hours in to a track, thinking that sheer man hours will be enough to salvage it, but it might not be the case and you may end up wasting hours (and a good track!) on something that you don’t even like when you play it back later.
And there you have it folks, those are my top 5 methods of beating writer’s block and staying inspired.