Too many composers and songwriters just sit around and wait for creativity to happen. But the truth is that, most of the time, by making yourself write, you inherently have to be more creative to be able to put something on the paper in the first place.
I used to be the kind of composer that just waited around, and I often moved onto new pieces whenever I hit the “barrier.” I used to think that forcing yourself to be creative stifled creativity, but now I see otherwise.
We talked about this idea of compelling yourself to be creative during GRAMMY Camp, and since then, I have been making myself push past the blockades. Three months later, I can say I’ve been more productive musically than ever. I produced, mixed, and mastered an entire album in this time in addition to writing and notating my longest and most complex piano composition so far (more on this piece later). I also started several new electronic productions of my own and re-did the mixes of some older ones. In three months, I’ve done what I used to do in a year. The quality of my work has not worsened because I’m taking less time and making myself do it. Conversely, it has significantly improved.
It’s not like it’s always easy to push through the walls, though. Sometimes, it’s really painful because I’m a perfectionist, and I feel like what I’m making myself come up with isn’t any good. Even so, I make myself keep going anyway, and eventually, I’m satisfied with how my productions and compositions turn out.
To get past the creative block, it often means trying things that you might consider ridiculous. Don’t give up on a possibility just because it’s weird or unconventional. Even if the crazy thing you try doesn’t work, it can lead to something that does work, and doing something outside of your norm can help you think of something new.
Ultimately, making yourself write or mix or produce is a matter of practicing. You won’t get better at what you do by waiting around all the time. If you want to get better, you need to push past the walls.
So let’s hear from my readers. How do you get past your creative blocks? What do you do when a song just doesn’t seem to be working at all?