Writers block when making electronic music (or any kind of music) can be the symptom of many different mental blocks.
Sometimes you just need better working habits, other times you’re left unmotivated and frustrated with you’re own inexperience.
But if you make the leap from bedroom producer to professional – you lose the luxury of feeling uninspired.
You won’t have time to feel unmotivated, you need to blow up the log jam in your brain and get to work. These have been my ultimate weapons that have always helped me get back in the studio and pushing out great music.
1. Catch and Release
- Find a track that inspires you and load it into your DAW.
- Cut out an 8 or 16 bar intro or outro section.
- Now, add your own melodies, chords, or anything else to the loop.
- Once you have a decent loop – delete the original inspiration track and replace it with your own ideas.
This is a perfect way to experiment with our own musical elements with a jumping-off point.
When borrowing an 8 or 16-bar loop from a track – do not use the drop. Instead, find a section that has some stripped down elements. This is usually a section from the intro or outro, and includes a kick, some percussion, and perhaps a simple bassline.
Add your own stuff on top, or pretend you’re doing a remix.
Eventually, you’ll delete the original file and have a completely original idea that is wholly yours.
2. The 3-Hour re-Creation Challenge
I strongly believe that lack of creativity is simply lack of execution. Sometimes you just need a reason to open your DAW and start screwing around until something happens.
But if you’ve had zero desire to even open up a project then we need to switch things up a little.
Try this. In a new project drag in a song that you absolutely love, and try to replicate it in it’s entirety.
Use this Timer – you have 3 hours to try and make something sound as close as possible.
Obviously we’re not looking to copy and release this work, but simply to get you back into your DAW and get your brain solving creative problems.
Time limits will force you to make quick decisions. While listening and recreating will force you to problem solve.
Even if the end result sucks, that’s not the point. It’s simply a quick way to get you inspired to work on something, and maybe even get you feeling creative again.
3. Borrow a Buildup
Sometimes, the best way to figure out how to produce an amazing drop is to make the buildup first. That usually gives you some direction on how the drop should sound.
What if you don’t even have a proper buildup though?
Copy and paste a gnarly buildup from another track – but leave the drop blank. In fact, I encourage you to not even listen to the drop from that original track so you don’t feel inclined to accidentally borrow ideas.
Once you got something to work with, delete the build up and make your own.
4. Make a different Genre
And I’m not talking going from Electro House to Bass House. I mean something completely different.
If you’ve only ever made Future Bass, try making some Psy Trance. If you’ve only ever made Big Room, maybe try and push out a Funky House track.
Consider escaping the EDM genre entirely and make something totally different.
Why is this important?
Because when you completely subtract all outcome dependency on your production, it suddenly frees you from creative constraints.
Something amazing happens when you let go and produce simply for the fun of it. Everything you make sounds unhindered. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own way.
Creativity is a delicate flow, that can easily be smothered by trying to impress our peers or please an audience. When you venture into a genre you wouldn’t normally touch, you might stop trying so hard, and your music making process is allowed to breathe.
This process is more of a reminder that optimism and curiosity generally creates better results.
5. Force it
Instead of waiting for inspiration to hit – just sit down and force yourself to work for 15 minutes. Then do the same thing tomorrow.
Even the worlds greatest artists don’t feel inspired 100% of the time. But when we gain a following we lose the luxury of time.
Your fans will demand more from you as you gain popularity – and if you don’t deliver in a timely manner you’ll lose those fans. So what do you do?
You push through all the mental blocks and get something down in your DAW. You remain pragmatic, and don’t let frustration sink in. Pretend you’re a scientist doing short experiments. Scientists don’t get frustrated and quit. They theorize and observe every failure or win, while remaining emotionally detached from the outcome.
Build your music-making habit by sitting down at the same time each day and working for 15 minutes (anyone can do that, right?). And if you want to go longer than do so.
Studies show people who write down when and where they’ll take action are far more likely to follow through.
Start right now. Pick a specific time and place when you’ll sit down and open your DAW.
- Everyday at 6pm, I will turn off my phone, open Fruity Loops, and set a timer for 15 minutes.
6. redefine Failure
We’re getting away from practical advice and into more mindset mode. But I still think this is an important topic.
Ultimate failure in music making is simply never trying. If you never even open your DAW, you have truly lost.
- If you opened it for 15 minutes and made a simple loop, you’ve succeeded.
- If you organized your samples for 10 minutes, you’ve succeeded.
- If you recorded your own voice with a quick idea for 1 minute, you’ve succeeded.
Celebrate every small win.
The problem is producers have a tendency to label themselves as a failure because they compare themselves to other artists. Or they beat themselves up because they spent 5 hours in the studio and the result isn’t up to their own standards.
If you open Ableton but have “FAILURE” stamped across your own forehead, of course you’re going to have a creative block. Everything you make is being filtered through your own frustration.
Here’s my challenge to you:
Get excited about failing.
I challenge you to fail 100 times over the next few months and feel excited while doing it. Do it over and over again.
The idea is to change your feelings about failure. Instead of beating yourself up, start to find that hidden 2% of optimism or excitement in your heart. Because that will breed new ideas that you can build on.
If you push out 100 shitty tracks, I can promise you this: You’ll be light years ahead of anyone who just spent all that time watching YouTube tutorials.
For every shitty music session you have – you’re one step closer to being able to push out amazing music consistently.