Most people in the creative industries suffer from creative block at some point or another. As producers, we all tend to have days when we can't seem to come up with a good idea for a new track, or when that killer riff proves elusive. Creative block will probably rear its ugly head at some point, and when it does there are various techniques that you can use to make sure that your studio time remains productive. Below are some examples.
This is not a way to overcome creative block in itself, but it's a way that you can remain productive and ensure that when inspiration does strike – you are ready to roll! Create a template for each style of music you produce; import the right drum samples, load up the basic synths, set up your guitar FX chains etc.
Get everything ready so that when the mood hits you, you can dive straight into the creative process.
Sometimes limitation drives creativity. We've written in the past about how bands like The White Stripes pushed themselves creatively by deliberately limiting their options.
Try limiting yourself to only four or five tracks in your session – how much can you accomplish with the bare minimum?
Set yourself a goal and a time in which to do it – for example 'I'll write a chorus in 15 minutes'. Turn the timer on and get writing. When you are suffering from creative block it always feels nice to have created something, even if it is not your best work. Take the pressure off yourself with this technique – don't try and write the greatest piece of music of all time, just concentrate on finishing a small part of a track.
Sometimes when you take the pressure off yourself, you end up coming up with something amazing – and if you don't, well, you've still written some brand new music and therefore done what you set out to do.
Sometimes it can help to completely change things up. Produce a track in a completely different genre to the one in which you normally work. Switch from EDM to folk or from metal to afrobeat.
You'll get your mind working in different ways and that can be extremely helpful. Maybe you can try to change up your writing process too – start a new track on the piano instead of on the laptop for example.
A new synth or a new plug-in can often get the creative juices flowing, as once again it gets you out of the same old patterns.
You can find plenty of free plug-ins on our blog to download, or you can download a demo of a premium synth instead. They often come with a free trial period which will be more than long enough to get you started on a new project.
Last but not least on our list of tips – don't forget to take the occasional break. If you're really not getting anywhere on a track, try going for a walk, doing some sport or baking a cake! Take your mind of the music for a while and come back refreshed.
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Audio Ear Training for Music Producers and Sound Engineers