You probably have heard the saying “nothing is certain, except for death and taxes”.
Well you can most definitely add writers block into that quote as well. The creative process of making music does come with its many ups and occasional downs.
The first thing I want to point out is that writers block is perfectly normal and a regular part of the creative process. How you get through those tough and very frustrating moments can make a difference in building up a great workflow that allows you to optimize on your creative output.
So let me walk you though a couple simple things you can do to help get past those obstacles of not being to finish ideas and bring life to old ideas that might be lying around on the hard drive.
Listen once, and away from your workstation.
When you are stuck with trying to finish up an idea or just trying to bring life back to some old ones, make a bounce of it and listen to it away from your normal working environment.
Before you take a listen be sure to have a piece of paper, napkin ,sheep skin or whatever to write on, and write down the top five things you think this track would need in order to be considered “finished”.
Doing this will help you give you a better perspective on how to approach your ideas. I find that sometimes all my idea really needs after giving it one listen through somewhere else is just a great vocal performance. So then I make sure that is where I spend my time on rather than trying to switch out snare drums and tinker around with more patches on the baseline.
Set a priority list of your next steps.
Once you have written down the three or fives things you think would finish the idea, then go ahead and create a priority list of each of those items. I like to write them down in order from biggest priority to the least.
Once I do that I give myself a time limit to get each one done. So if I need to get a vocal performance down for an idea in order for it to be considered finished, I will give myself no more than three hours to get something down. It is good to keep yourself accountable to these kind of methods because they end up being a part of your normal work flow. This helps you to develop a strong discipline and reinforces the habit of getting it done every time.
If I find it unreasonably hard getting any of the things on the list accomplished, then I open up the possibility of handing it off to a collaborator and come at it with a brand new perspective.
Finally, you also want to give yourself a hard deadline to get those five items done. Consider even using a countdown timer to help you stay focused.
Try these out on some of your old ideas and see if it has an impact on how you go about bringing them back to life.