fopylo

Musicians out there - How do you overcome writer's block?

65 posts in this topic

I've been taking a long break from the book Music Habits: The Mental Game Of Electronic Music Production (if anyone heard about it) and it's quite insightful.

One of the things he talks about is the fact that building the habit comes prior to building your skills, and that thinking that you need more "knowledge" and tutorials is just an illusion. Once you build the habit then everything becomes way easier and you actually do create music instead of just fantasizing.

So basically he gave an exercise (or advice) to open your DAW and create everyday for 15 minutes (though he said you can do even up to 30 minutes, but I'll stick with 15). He says that it can be very trashy, but as long as you create something , it's good.

So I've been doing this exercise in the past (not consistently, skipping some days), and let me tell you my experience and maybe you could help guide me.

So here are some struggles I faced with it:

  • I felt pressure to create something and be creative. Even tough he said it can be trashy I still felt the anxiety to create something, bring an idea onto the table and make it sound good.
  • I also felt sometimes pressured by the time. 15 minutes never gave me enough time to start and finish something. This made shorter beats that are mostly on loop with nothing special. I don't want to go also overtime because I don't want my brain to think that like 20 minutes is what I should be aiming for next time, putting more pressure.
  • The biggest reason why I skipped days (imo) is because this process feels so dumb. I have this notion that I'm capable of reaching very high levels with my music if I really put my effort into it. And doing this exercise really makes me feel trash and hurt.
  • Some of the instruments are just too heavy for my FL Studio to render, which is frustrating and very limiting.

About the last point, I'm really interested in creating orchestral music. I just think it's so damn beautiful. The problem is that my laptop can't fucking render the good quality violins while I'm creating. It is a real pain to play a few notes and then make a sample out of it because this is the only way to render it, and even then it's really a mess. I've been really inspired by the YouTuber Alex Moukala if anyone knows.

But back to the writer's block. I just don't really know what to think about in this process. What are some good mindsets and ideas I should take while doing those 15 minutes. I get also really frustrated when my song is just a loop, or the sounds are not as I had in my head.

I've decided that I want to get back into creating music. I wouldn't be surprised if it's somehow tied with my life purpose. All the time fucking delaying it with excuses that seem so valid, even such as "I'm taking a break to practice mindfulness and meditation so I can come back stronger" is a very genius get-away.

Anyways, I would appreciate guidance and advice from fellow musicians here who also went through such a period.

Thanks

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Posted (edited)

Not a musician, but you just keep doing something persistently not 15 minutes until you have hypnotized yourself then something will come out of it.

If you have a hard time bringing yourself to starting, why is it you want to do it in the fist place then? It is hard to accomplish something with negative motivation unless the threat is sufficiently big.

Edited by Windappreciator

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7 hours ago, Windappreciator said:

If you have a hard time bringing yourself to starting, why is it you want to do it in the fist place then? It is hard to accomplish something with negative motivation unless the threat is sufficiently big.

@Windappreciator
I have a very great ambition to become a musician and sometimes I get huge waves of inspiration and callings that this might be the thing that I should focus my life on (or at least a very great hobby for sure). I want to start creating because I feel like music has always been a part of my life, and life always showed me in indirect ways why I'm meant for it (my inspiration, my perfect pitch, synesthesia, get emotional, go deep into it's magic).

The "negative" motivation is because I have resistance to it from the reasons I mentioned above 

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Posted (edited)

High intensity Exercise. 3-6 hours a day. Will flush out toxins in the brain that build up during waking hours + increased blood flow. 

Edited by integral

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Posted (edited)

@fopylo If life has given you signs then you have nothing to worry about.

It's again, just a matter of doing it anyway through out the day, regardless of distractions, being comfortable with being alone with one thing.

You don't need to prove me you have a gift, I believe you.

Edited by Windappreciator

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Posted (edited)

"Some of the instruments are just too heavy for my FL Studio to render, which is frustrating and very limiting."

i recommend either getting a better computer with more ram, better cpu and ssd or a notation software like Dorico or sibelius and get noteperformer. It's a good alternativ to sample libraries out there and it doesn't requrie much ram.

"But back to the writer's block. I just don't really know what to think about in this process. What are some good mindsets and ideas I should take while doing those 15 minutes. I get also really frustrated when my song is just a loop, or the sounds are not as I had in my head."

I am currently watching mike verta masterclass called kickstarter where he talk about the process of composing. What he recomends so far is just start and when you end for the day always end with an unfinished idea so that when you come back tomorrow you have something to work with instead of being completly blank. 

If you feel like you are not where you want to be and things sound similar to what you have composed in the past I recommend asking an experience composer for feedback so you know what to improve on and also study a lot of scores. (you can for free on imslp.org)

As of mindset I recommend to watch bulldog mindset on youtube he have a series called "How to succeed in life in 20 days" one of those videos he talks about embracing the grind which is work which is not enjoyable maybe even boring. Pretty much anything in life can become that the key to succeed is just to embrace the work even when it becomes a grind. 

If you really want to be serious as a composer I recommend doing a lot more than just 15 mins. I personally practice the piano 3 hours(which might not even be enough) a day even if i don't feel like it and also compose for a few hours. A good way to find time in your day is to use timeboxing which is something Cal Newport talks about. 

Some books you may find interesting is: Deep work and so good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport, Ultralearning by scott young, Scott youngs top performer course(not a book though)  Peak by anders ericsson. And something which you might find interesting is something called the The Dan Plan which is about a guy trying to become world class in golf by trying to get to his 10000 hours of deliberate practice in that field. It's not music related but the idea of working 10000 hours in a field to become good may be inspiring. 

Regarding the composing process I recomend to spend a lot of time searching for good ideas and for possiblities that way you may come up with something even better. Also once you have an idea that's not so good you can take that and develop it further so it becomes a more complete idea. 

Be patient and don't just use the first idea that comes to mind. 

Hope you found any of this helpful. 

Best of luck with your career.

 

By the way watching tutorials (or analyzing scores) can be really helpful. If you some how feel like you don't improve anymore getting a new insight can help breakthrough that wall. I think its good to balance practice and knowlegde. 

If you just practice without any knowlegde of what you are doing then you may not be able to improve much.

It's similar to this quote by Leonardo Da Vinci

“He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.” 

Without knowlegde you are just practice aimlessning never going in a specefic direction but with knowlegde you become aware of your own weakness and know why they don't work and how to fix them. That's one of the keys to improve. 

Edited by BjarkeT

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You are not trusting the process, trusting yourself and trusting music. And you are not committed and consistent. And you are not celebrating you for being on the journey but want a perfect finished product. 

The only failure is not doing anything.

When you do something, even if the result doesn't please you, it is valuable information about your next step and about you.

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@TurquoiseAngel I hear you, but I approach it with the notion that I'll anyways not produce something high quality in 15 minutes, so why even put the effort? I feel sorta "beyond it" (of course it's my ego).

But that doesn't say that I should do longer sessions because mentally it will destroy me (slight chance I'll go all in but feel super overwhelmed and resist it even more next time).

I'm putting myself in a lose-lose situation, lying to myself from all directions in order to stay stuck where I am. This is insane how genius the ego can be

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Show up and write. Write and keep writing even if it sucks! Rarely does it suck


"Remember the necessity of waking up. Use all happenings for self-illumination. Refuse false and shallow comfort. Seek first the inner kingdom." Vernon Howard, Pathways To Perfect Living

Personal Growth Vlog - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzVkdPNRrNT7SN1aoco2MdA

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On 02/06/2021 at 0:31 PM, fopylo said:

@TurquoiseAngel I hear you, but I approach it with the notion that I'll anyways not produce something high quality in 15 minutes, so why even put the effort? I feel sorta "beyond it" (of course it's my ego).

But that doesn't say that I should do longer sessions because mentally it will destroy me (slight chance I'll go all in but feel super overwhelmed and resist it even more next time).

I'm putting myself in a lose-lose situation, lying to myself from all directions in order to stay stuck where I am. This is insane how genius the ego can be

Great awareness! Now, what are you going to do about it? 

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Posted (edited)

You can check out Steven Pressfield's books series starting with 'The War of Art' (Not to be confused with The Art of War) and then 'Turning Pro' plus more whereby he details how he overcame procrastination and did his art (writing etc).

Edited by hyruga

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@fopylo

You are allowed to be a work in progress  - and a masterpiece  -  at the same time. 

Have you heard of this quote?

Don't be afraid of making bad and insignificant art, it is better then NO art

 

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@TurquoiseAngel

1 hour ago, TurquoiseAngel said:

Have you heard of this quote?

Heard it from Ralph Smart.

@hyruga I didn't hear good things about his book "The War of Art"

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17 hours ago, fopylo said:

@TurquoiseAngel

@hyruga I didn't hear good things about his book "The War of Art"

The front part of the book is good. It talks about how he overcame procrastination. The last 30% of the book talk about some weird stories and also about how he slayed the dragon: This part you can skip. 

Anyway, his later books elaborate further on how he overcame procrastination.

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I've been producing music for a few years now, and I notice that the songs that get done do so almost accidentally... If i'm feeling a song, I'll keep working on it and eventually finish. But that's not sustainable, so I've been looking for ways to force myself to finish more music. I've started setting myself deadlines by telling friends that I have to send them a song by a certain data and, if I don't, I'll venmo them each $10. External motivation helps a ton, so if you're serious about it, I'd recommend that.

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@J K I'm not too keen about external negative motivation. Could be useful for some people some times but I had my fair share and personally it just makes things worse for me

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Posted (edited)

On 6/2/2021 at 7:23 AM, TurquoiseAngel said:

You are not trusting the process, trusting yourself and trusting music. And you are not committed and consistent. And you are not celebrating you for being on the journey but want a perfect finished product. 

The only failure is not doing anything.

When you do something, even if the result doesn't please you, it is valuable information about your next step and about you.

+1

Also I'd like to add to stop judging yourself so much OP.

I am an amateur song-writer. The biggest cause of writer block for me is judging my work and trying to be sound like something. Forget what you sound like in your head, and just create. If you are not satisfied with a loop, leave it, and add another track, and that might spark what you are missing in that loop. You have to trust yourself and let go of the thoughts you have about it at the moment. 

Just Play. Be a child when you make you music. FEEL the groove. do not forget why you love music in the first place.

Do you like psychedelics? take some psychedelics and play your instrument, you will notice how much thoughts and training actually holds you back from creating and experimentation. 

Edited by SgtPepper

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