- How long does it take to conquer Musician’s Block?
- What factors can contribute to it?
- We compile the best tips to beat your creative block
- Also, check out our post on how to cultivate a creative mindset as a musician
Creatives are well known for enduring long hours harboring new and exciting ideas, constantly seeking inspiration from any source, and taking steps towards progressing within the realm of their own art form.
This process brings us all much joy, but when so much energy is being instilled into this creative energy, one could fairly assume that there may be some roadblocks along the way.
Yes, much like any artist, we musicians and producers are just as susceptible to the ailment known as a creative block (for this article, we will refer to it as Musician’s Block).
Musician’s Block can be encountered due to a plethora of reasons, including vigorous repetition, lack of inspiration, and even other aspects of life totally unrelated to your music-making.
Here are 25 tips on how to crush Musician’s Block and get back to doing what you do best in no time.
Tips For Crushing Writer’s Block For Musicians
1. Seek New Sounds
Most of us will have a native genre, a style in which we have much history and a great affinity. Whilst this endearing love for your own musical genre/sub-genre is most certainly admirable, venturing outside of the box to seek new sounds has great potential for inspiration.
Related: 7 Best Field Recording Microphones For All Environments
2. Tweak a New Perspective
Are you a Guitarist or Bassist who hasn’t touched the EQ settings on their amp in years? Perhaps a Producer who has been using the same old tired sample packs day in and day out for who knows how long?
Ditching your usual “go-to’s” for a minute and working with a blank canvas may be just the ticket to get you out of your creative slump.
Related: Guitar EQ Cheat Sheet (Frequency Ranges and Essential Tips) & 9 Best Synthwave VSTs
3. It’s All in the Rhythm
Drummers and Beatmakers suffering from Musician’s Block ought to try working in new and exciting time signatures. No need to go all out on a prog rock mathematic onslaught, but you would be surprised how much the feel in your track will change when you shift from a standard 4/4 into a 3/4 shuffle.
Related: What Is Syncopation in Music?
4. Chop N’ Screw
Producers working with loops within their respective DAW may find some enlightenment in chopping up and rearranging their sequences. The result may be horrible, or it may be an entirely new rhythmic or melodic epiphany that you would never have encountered otherwise.
Related: Ableton Simpler vs Sampler
5. Pick Up A New Instrument
Ditch your main instrument for a few hours and pick up a bass, a snare drum, maybe even drop the instruments altogether and load up some VSTs in your DAW and mess about with MIDI.
Who knows what you will conjure up without the years and years of muscle memory and pre-conceived ideas you have developed on your main instrument present in your subconscious?
Related: 7 Best Online Drum Lessons/Courses & Free Online Music Production Courses
6. Revisit Some Old Ideas
Dig out some old
Not only will this provide some encouragement when you hear how far you have come in your creative journey you may even want to resurrect some old ideas that you never ended up using initially.
7. Go Back to Basics
Make an active effort to limit yourself for a period of time; this may mean restricting yourself to a single scale or notes within a scale, perhaps even just using the first or second string on your instrument.
Whilst this might sound counterintuitive it working against these limitations to find ideas may be just what you need to break out of a rut.
8. Collaboration Station
With so many of us actively working alone these days, it can be incredibly easy to get stuck into your own head.
Perhaps bringing your ideas forward to a colleague, bandmate, or peer can give you the new perspective required to move forward on a project that you have become stuck on.
Sometimes you may find yourself struggling to find the right part or transition when in reality, everything you need is already encompassed within a track, and the issues actually lie within your arrangement.
10. New Environments
Moving your studio into another room or even adding things to your current space may be the ticket to sparking some newfound electricity into the old brainwaves. Even a window or a few houseplants can make a huge difference to the vibe in your workspace.
Related: 10 Modern Home Studio Setups That Nail the Vibe
11. Seek Inspiration Elsewhere
Inspiration can strike in any place, and indulging in the works of other Artists outside of music is a viable tactic to combat creative block. Read a book, go to the gallery, or have a movie marathon. We have so much glorious art to indulge in. Why not step outside of the box and explore it?
12. Eradicate All Distractions
Switch off your phone, close the door, and throw on some cans. We are constantly surrounded by so many outside stimuli that it can be a challenge in itself to find the ability to focus for any extended period of time.
Related: 5 Best Bluetooth Headphones for Music Production
13. Embrace A New Workflow
So you always start your productions from the drums up and build up everything else around them? Maybe going back to scratch and working from a melody instead will throw you out of your element enough to spark some newfound inspiration.
14. Stay Within Your Comfort Zone
Maybe you are pushing yourself too hard, and this is working against your progress. Sometimes it can really help to stick with what you know and work through a track without any of the pressure that you may be placing upon yourself in the process.
15. Obliterate Your Comfort Zone
On the other hand, maybe your comfort zone is what is holding you back, no creative idea is a bad idea, but it is important to accept that not all ideas will work. be willing to try anything and see it through.
If it doesn’t work, there are limitless other possibilities you can try out to replace it.
16. Try A New Routine
Are you often sat behind a computer monitor bleary-eyed at 2 am? Try mixing up your routine and working in the morning or afternoon. This change of pace is sure to evoke a different perspective, and you may even find that you prefer working at these times as opposed to your usual arrangement.
17. Seek New Knowledge
With the rise of the internet, we have an unfathomable amount of resources at our fingertips. Take some time to brush up on your music theory, watch some production-based YouTube videos, or touch base with your peers via Reddit forums.
Seeking solace on the internet may seem counter-intuitive, but with a focused direction and some discipline, it is an invaluable resource for all of us.
18. Take A Break
Deadlines or even the pressure we place upon ourselves will have a tendency to make us want to push forward in the long run. However, fatigue is an enemy of creativity, and more specifically, ear fatigue will lead to a bad mix.
Be sure to get up out of your chair, stretch, hydrate, and take time to detach from your production for brief periods of time during your session.
19. Introduce New Tools
I generally would not suggest the acquisition and purchase of new gear as viable means of overcoming a creative block, but there is definitely truth in the idea that a new pedal, plug-in, or piece of outboard gear may inspire some new ideas that weren’t present prior.
20. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
As artists, many of us aspire to our own individual versions of greatness and progression. However, it is easy to get lost in this and forget why we got into making music in the first place.
This process should be fun, and if your own ego is leaving you feeling burnt out, it is definitely a sign to take a deep breath and relax for a minute.
21. Take Yourself More Seriously
On the other hand, maybe you just aren’t working hard enough; some of us want to see stellar results with minimum effort, but the truth is that you aren’t ever going to finish your next EP from the comfort of a gaming chair with a PlayStation controller in hand.
22. Move Onto Another Idea
Figuratively speaking, some ideas require more time in the oven than others. Musicians and engineers have spent months and years on specific projects whilst others have been completed in mere hours.
Maybe the way forward is to add this one to the archives and come back to it later, trying out something new in the meantime.
23. Don’t wait for inspiration To Fall Into Your Lap
Patience is a virtue, but it can also be detrimental if it turns to complacency. On occasion, a creative block will pass naturally, but quite often, you will need to actively work towards digging yourself out of this hole.
24. Go Outside
Many producers and musicians are guilty of spending far too much time inside, and this makes sense due to the fact that this is, more often than not, the location of the tools of our trade. However, taking some time to get away and amongst nature may be exactly what is required for you to get back on track creatively.
25. Walk Away
When all else fails, sometimes it is simply best to walk away and abandon a project.
Whilst this may be disappointing, it is important to not focus on this occurrence as a mere failure but actually a stepping stone towards creating exactly what you want to make as an artist moving forward.
In conclusion, Musician’s Block is an ailment that affects creatives at all levels, from beginners to working professionals. Whilst being a frustrating scenario to find yourself in, it is worth noting that it is entirely natural and will pass in time.
Hopefully, this article has given you an arsenal of methods to kick back against this dreary phenomenon or, at the very least, cut down on its duration.
Still need some fresh ideas? Check out this Musician’s Block Tool!