Creativity can be the most fickle of friends. Finding you at the most inopportune moments, and leaving when you need it most. It’s something that is best not to force, as it tends to lead you to poor results. But if it is your job to be creative on a daily basis, how do you get yourself into “The Mood”? When a deadline is approaching, or you’ve set time aside but now cannot find your groove, what can you do?
Find Your Spark
This can be difficult to do if you are not in the right headspace. But usually there is something to get you back on track. If you are writing or composing, find the lyric, or melody you are working with and mess around. Try it another way, slow it down, speed it up, try funky rhythms. Little adjustments can spark your brain and inspire you.
Perhaps your working on mixing, but need some inspiration. Go find some fun and weird plugins. Try random settings, get creative with delays. Add some fun noises, modulation, or tonal effects. The little things you do can help open up your ears to things you weren’t hearing before.
Take A Break
Sometimes stepping away is the best thing to do. Even if you’ve set aside time to work. Take 5-10 min and go for a short walk. Go breathe some fresh air. Go meditate or stretch. Perhaps you can get in a few yoga poses? anything to take your mind away so you come back with new perspective. This helps a lot of mixing engineers when they get stuck on mixing. Taking a break can help you re-focus on things you might have missed previously.
Try Something Different
Do you also enjoy other forms and art and creativity? Try your hand at one of those for a bit. Sometimes what we work on in other mediums can spark our thoughts and lead us back to what we were working on perviously. Go play some word games, or go toss some angry birds! Read a book, doodle in a sketchbook. Whatever strikes your fancy, use that to help you get back to your work.
Journal or Document
When “The Mood” strikes at the worst times, it good to have a plan to document. Thats the thing about creativity, it can have a mind of its own. But use the tools around you to help you later when you have the time. Write down those lyrics, use your phone to record the melody in your head. Sometimes creativity can strike right before bed, early in the morning, or when you’re in the middle of other projects. We don’t always have time to sit down at a computer and start hashing out the idea. But you can at least get a quick document of what is on your mind to re-visit later. Technology can help you stay organized and prepared for when you can sit down and create.
Sometimes our ideas don’t work out how we thought. Perhaps you cannot find a way to continue that song you were working on. Maybe after trying everything, it still isn’t coming together. And that’s ok. Not every song written or recorded is “Amazing”. Not every painting done by Van Gogh was a masterpiece. Thats just how it is. Sometimes we have to sift through our creativity to find the gems. Just remember you are doing what you enjoy. If it becomes a hassle, step back and re-assess if it really needs to be finished. I have books of half written songs that will never see the light of day. But I look at them fondly as memories and lessons. Not as failures.
So go enjoy, create, experience, and play!
How often do you tell yourself, “I just don’t have the time…” Or perhaps it’s “I’m so busy, I just can’t find the time”
It’s something we all struggle with. It is a daily battle for most people trying to “fit” everything they want to in a day. And the struggle can get us caught up in a downward spiral of never “having enough time.” How many things have you put off because you can’t seem to find the time in your day? How many things are on that to-do list that keeps getting longer? Are you struggling with never having time to do the things you want to?
This is usually the part where some silly ad tells you how the “quick fix” to all your problems, but the fact is, there isn’t a quick fix. In fact, the “fix” you’re hoping for doesn’t really exist. At least not in the way you think it does. I struggle with finding the time for things every day, but I’m doing my best to change that…
One of the biggest double edged swords for us as human beings is our habits! We are habitual creatures, and we love it when we create habits. We don’t differentiate between good or bad habits, to our brains they just are. Habits wrap us up in a warm blanket and say “It’s ok, you’ve been doing this over and over, that’s nothing to be ashamed of…” But when you look back at your bad habits, the things you wish to change, it can seem daunting to adjust to something new. This is a challenge I am pushing at you. Perhaps don’t try to make too many adjustments at once, but do your best. Set reminders, write out what you want to do, then make an effort each day to stay true to yourself and that change.
I am spending time stepping out of my comfort zone, trying new things, making better habits, and learning new skills. And I started last week, making small adjustments so I can make time. The fact is, we like habits, good ones, bad ones, tall ones, short ones… etc. So its time to make new habits.
One of the biggest mistakes is planning to change later, you know that little thing called procrastination? You just need to sit down, make your plan, and implement it right then and there. Yes its difficult, whomever told you it was easy was lying, and probably never tried it themselves. But take it one day at time, hold yourself accountable, and you’ll find yourself changing the things you want. Like Making Time for the things you want to do! maybe that’s finishing old songs, or writing new ones? Maybe you want to get better at an instrument, or learn a new one? Whatever you’ve been trying to “find time” for, if you focus and push yourself, you will accomplish the goals you set forth.
There are so many things to distract us from our goals, funny cat videos, the best new TicTok dance, or that new binge-worthy show on Netflix… But guess what? Those distractions will be there later, when you “find time” for them. Focus on making time for the things you want to accomplish instead, and check those things off your to-do list. As my mother once asked me…
“How do you eat an elephant??? One bite at a time…”
One of the hardest things you can struggle with as an artist is value. The value of what you do can seem to be solely based on others opinions of worth. Whether that value is from a listener or patron of the establishment, or perhaps the venue booker. Fighting for your value can be exhausting, tedious, and sometimes downright difficult. But I implore you to do it. With the adjustments made in the music scene here in 2020, there is no better time to start putting value on the entertainment and experience you provide.
But how do you put a value on what you do? As a musician, how do you determine what you should charge? How do you request a specific payment amount? What deals are worth striking, and what should you shy away from? They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what is that beauty worth? It can be difficult to put a price on an experience, but here are some things to consider when deciding a price.
1. How many hours have you put into honing your skills? There is something to be said about the time and experience you have as a performer. The amount of hours, days, weeks, and months spent performing. While performing is a passion for most, if not all artists, it is nice to know you are receiving a return on that investment of time.
2. How much of your own money have you invested into your gear? From stands, microphones, cables, pedals, amps, guitars, etc. that money adds up. Of course some of this gear is personal choice, maybe buying that tricked out Les Paul wasn’t necessary, but it looks so cool! Just remember, gear doesn’t make the performer, but it can help you perform more efficiently.
3. Do you provide other services beyond performing? Are you also promoting, making banners, helping to bring the venue more clients? Are you helping sling drinks or food by talking up the drinks or food from the establishment? Are you providing sound services, running a PA for yourself or other performers? Some venues provide a sound engineer and gear, but others expect you to have everything.
4. Finally, what kind of entertainment are you providing? Are you entertaining? Are you captivating the audience, drawing them in? Are you able to capture attention and hold it? this is a skill that takes time to hone, but is quite valuable. Sometimes putting on an “act” to be more entertaining and providing engagement with the crowd is so helpful. This is a great skill to have, providing a personal connection between you and the audience. But try not to be “fake”. Wearing your heart on your sleeve can leave you vulnerable, but that emotion is what draws us in. Just be genuine about it, most people can tell when you are not sincere.
When all said and done, putting value on your services is one of the hardest things to do. But is is essential as a performer. In the end, you are a providing professional services, just like an electrician, graphic designer, or woodworker. Your skills are learned over time, and as you hone them, you will get better and better. While you might not be able to get your asking price every time, fighting for your worth is… well worth it. Remember your worth, and know others will value you and Your worth too.