4 Habits To Cultivate A Creative Mindset As A Musician Or Producer

  • How do we properly define ‘mindset’?
  • Learn how to make your mindset work for you instead of against you
  • Discover 4 techniques to develop a creative mindset for yourself.

The following editorial was written by licensed psychologist, Ricard Magnusson (MSc in Psychology, University of Umeå).

Ever wondered why some people seem to constantly evolve and stay motivated even in the face of adversity? It might be down to their mindset. Maintaining a mental mode that facilitates learning and growth is no easy task, but luckily research has something to say about this.

In this editorial, you will learn how you can make your mindset work for you instead of against you.

What Is Mindset?

In a broad sense, mindset can be defined as our habitual mental attitude that shapes how we
interpret and view our current situation (webster-dictionary.com). American psychologist Carol
Dweck expanded the concept of mindset further, in her 2006 book Mindset: the new psychology of success.

Mindset, in short, is our implicit idea of the nature of our abilities.

Are our abilities relatively fixed with little variance across the life span, or are our abilities dynamic, with the potential to expand greatly if we put in the time and effort?

Research shows that how we think about our potential to evolve our skills and abilities have a great impact on our motivation to put in the work needed to reach the next level of awesomeness (Dweck, 2006).

Fixed Mindset VS Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset Vs Growth Mindset
In Carol Dwecks book, mindset is thought of as a continuum, ranging from a fixed mindset on one end, to a growth mindset on the other. Believing your abilities are set in stone would put you on the fixed mindset end of the spectrum.

Believing the state of your abilities are subject to change would put you on the growth mindset end (Dweck, 2006).

Key Characteristics

Most of us aren’t constantly stuck in just one mindset.

In reality, it probably depends on the situation and context we are currently in. Most people, however, can probably relate more to one than the other. It’s not always easy to identify your main mindset.

Carol Dweck herself reportedly once stated that claiming you’re always in a growth mindset, might in fact be a clear indication of a fixed mindset (Nottingham & Larsson, 2019)…

The following key characteristics, or basic beliefs, can serve as examples to help you identify your mindset (Nottingham & Larsson, 2019).

Examples Of Fixed Mindset Thought Process

Abilities are innate and decided by nature

“I’m no good at writing melodies, but I’ve always been good at making interesting chord progressions.”

Past failures, or expected ones, serve as excuses for not trying.

“I can’t do it”

Avoids challenges

“Challenges are threatening and should be avoided.”

Struggling is a sign of inability

“Different people have different talents, if I have to struggle, I’m just not talented enough.”

Covers up mistakes

“Failing shows you’re not good enough, so you need to make sure no one notices.”

Feedback is criticism

“Perceives feedback as negative criticism, often directed at you as a person.”

Are our abilities relatively fixed with little variance across the life span, or are our abilities dynamic, with the potential to expand greatly if we put in the time and effort?

Examples Of Growth Mindset Thought Process

Abilities can be developed

“I can’t do it… Yet… but I realize that abilities are malleable and I can grow with guidance.”

Past failures does not necessarily predict the future.

“Saying “I can’t do it yet” is a way of visualizing the possibility of succeeding in the future.”

Seeks out challenges

“Challenges are exciting and allows me to push my boundaries.”

Struggling is a sign of learning

“Talented people worked hard to get to where they are. I can work hard as well. Fighting means learning and growing.”

Probes mistakes

“Where did I go wrong? What do i need to focus on in order to improve? Realizing my own mistakes leads to greater success in the future.”

Feedback is information

“I won’t take their critique personally. It’s information to help me develop my skills.”

How Mindset Affects Your Progression

As stated above the different mindsets comes with a set of characteristics that (to a varying degree) influence the way we handle our daily struggles and challenges.

The music industry is a work field with intense competition. Over 1 million tracks are uploaded to Spotify each month (Ingham, 2019), and making it big in the industry is no easy task.

So, preparing your mind for handling challenges and setbacks is a must to stay on top of your game in the music industry, and to keep improving your skills.

Staying creative is what will keep you moving forward. This is where your mindset will have a big impact. Let your mindset make you instead of break you.

The Creative Mindset

A widespread definition of the concept of creativity is the ability to create something original,
unique and useful (Runco & Jaeger, 2012).

Sounds like the goal of any music producer, right?

The creative mindset is closely related to the growth mindset and can be defined as beliefs about creativity as being malleable, something that can be developed (Karwowski, 2014).

Current research findings show that there is a link between our beliefs about our creative abilities, and the creative outcome.

People with a creative mindset become:

  • More creative (go figure…),
  • Show more cognitive flexibility (are better at generating ideas and novel solutions to problems)
  • Get more enjoyment out of the task (Intasao & Hao, 2018).

A recent study on design students have similar results and shows that students with a creative mindset were more open-minded, had a more positive attitude, achieved higher learning goals and had a better design ability (Choi, 2019).

4 Habits To Cultivate A Creative Mindset

Developing a creative, growth mindset is not an easy task. After all, our mindset has been with us for so long it’s likely a part of our personality.

But, it’s not impossible to form new habitual ways of thinking.

Here are my thoughts on how to adapt to a more creative mindset… one that works for us instead of against us:

Defer From Judgments And Formulate “Forward-Thinking Goals”

Making static, judgmental, statements like “this sucks”, “I’m no good at this” does not help you develop a more flexible, creative, ever-growing mindset. When you find yourself using these judgments, try rephrasing them in a way that is non-judgmental (avoid words like good/bad etc). Instead, try rephrasing it as a statement incorporating a learning goal. “I need to improve my low-end mixing skills” is a more useful thought than “My mix sounds really bad”. Continuously setting new learning goals will keep you moving forward.

Add A “But” When You Think You Can’t

Every time you think “I can’t do it”, you set a limit to your possibilities.

Adding a simple “but” to the end of the sentence will help you remember that might not be able right now, but by putting in the time and effort you’ll always get closer to the goal. It will help keep on a path of progression. (Nottingham & Larsson, 2019)

Find Challenges And Push Your Boundaries

If you suck at writing ballads, commit to writing one, and don’t worry about the end result.

Remind yourself it’s the process of doing something new that will make you grow, not the result.

Deliberately stepping out of the box will also aid in generating novel ideas instead of just repeating yourself.

Make A Habit Out Of Asking Yourself “Why?”

If your latest music production turned out particularly good, take the time to formulate what made it work.

Was it the frequency balance between the different instruments?

The way each section of the song effortlessly flowed into the next one?

This will help you put into words what parts of the process played a role in making it great.

Do the same when the results are less than great: Take the time to think about what parts of the production didn’t turn out the way you were aiming for. If you would do it again, what would you do differently?

Don’t be afraid to seek out the opinions of others, as they are the only ones that can hear your production with a fresh set of ears.


Choi, J. (2019). The Creative Mindset In Design Education. Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy, http://hdl.handle.net/11299/203584

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House. 

Ingham, T. (2019, April 29). Nearly 40,000 tracks are now being added to Spotify every single day. Retrieved from https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/nearly-40000-tracks-are-now-being- added-to-spotify-every-single-day/ 

Intasao, N., & Hao, N. (2018). Beliefs About Creativity Influence Creative Performance: The Mediation Effects of Flexibility and Positive Affect. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01810 

Karwowski, M. (2014). Creative mindsets: Measurement, correlates, consequences. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8(1), 62–70. doi: 10.1037/a0034898 

Webster dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/mindset 

Nottingham, J., & Larsson, B. (2019). Challenging mindset: why a growth mindset makes a difference in learning-and what to do when it doesnt. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. 

Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The Standard Definition of Creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 92–96. doi: 10.1080/10400419.2012.650092