I ran out of creativity

Discussion in 'Workflow Tips & DIYs' started by ein fisch, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. Ethos

    Ethos Senior Member

    I think Aaron Copeland said, "Inspiration is for amateurs".

    This is why it's really important to study music theory, study scores, know music history, and develop good compositional technique. Being in a deadline-driven career, when my inspiration fails me, I can just rely on my technique to get me through a couple days (or a whole job if need-be).
    Jaap and bryla like this.
  2. dgburns

    dgburns it was done an hour ago, but I can't help myself

    Nov 4, 2012
    One of the best ways to gauge your creativity is to be pitted against your competitors, as in when you are part of a cattle call on a project and only one wins the contract. You can try and get by on craft alone, but that will only get you so far. I imagine that you will eventually write stuff you’ve written before, or with an approach that yields similar results. (haven’t we all been there). The creativity part comes and slaps you right in the face when you hear all the submissions from all these other sources that showcase the wild diversity that can come from even the same starting point, aka a film clip that is given to everyone. I’ve listened to things other people wrote and frankly was astonished at all the things that never occurred to me to write. That alone, is just about the most humbling thing that you can experience. It’s the ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ part. That’s precisely where the creativity aspect comes in. And our job is to pay some mind to that, and that’s the part that always takes the most time. To get out of your muscle memory, your good and bad habits, your inclination to work in a similar fashion, when the tools we all have can go in so many different directions- almost too much choice frankly.

    Creativity is the x factor. Creativity is one wierd animal, it doesn’t play well with time. Actually it defies time and laughs at us. It’s not until you go back and listen to things you wrote much later that you have a better perspective on the creative value of your output. In the moment, it always feels like you are writing the BEST thing you ever did. Even the next day, you might feel really differently about that.

    We can try to justify our output by commercial means (as in I made alot of money on THAT track) and therefore it has VALUE. But does creativity care about how much you made? if anything at all. I think no. We can try to justify our relative failure to be creative by stating we had a deadline, but a deadline is nothing other then an arbitrary line in the sand that stops creativity from that point on.

    I always felt that time seems to be pliable, my awareness of the passage of time changes based on the time I’m given to be creative. I’ve felt it fold in on itself when I needed to get alot done in a very little amount of time. Other times, with alot of time given, it doesn’t always yield linearly better output.

    Time - Creativity - Output - Lasting Value

    For some reason they just are not solid objects, they are, for me atleast, very difficult to quantify. It can drive you nuts thinking about it, so I try not to. Especially when you need to jump into a project. At some point I know that I will hit the end, especially with a schedule. You end up having to be a little bit fatalistic in knowing you will have to live with the stuff you eventually produced. And try and be happy with that. Very difficult to do. Close the book, and move on.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  3. Sure, but it still requires creativity. And without inspiration (fore me, anyways), the writing feels forced and stagnant.
  4. Ethos

    Ethos Senior Member

    I think that's arguable. Truly prolific composers don't have an unlimited supply of inspiration. Rather, they have a masterful command over technique. Look no further than Beethoven. You don't compose symphonies - deaf - relying upon inspiration.

    Any prolific film composer today could tell you, if you wait until inspiration hits, you've already missed the deadline.

    If your music is forced and stagnant when you're feeling uninspired, figure out why that is. What habits are you falling into that sounds stagnant, and stop doing that.
    ein fisch likes this.
  5. Leon Portelance

    Leon Portelance Composer | Songwriter

    Jan 2, 2017
    Corning, California
    I like Mike Verta’s 3 part YouTube series: “Live Composing - When You Don’t Feel Like It.” Basically he shows how you can force yourself to get inspired by making yourself improvise until something clicks.
  6. Alex Niedt

    Alex Niedt Senior Member

    Jun 4, 2018
    Force yourself to make music, take a different approach than usual, try things like restricting yourself to one sound library, listen to music you normally wouldn't listen to, go to an art museum, exercise, etc.
  7. Jaap

    Jaap Best audience ever...booh!

    There are days when I have more ideas then others. On such days (if time allows it) I write down as much ideas as I have, record them and make easy to find project files in Cubase with mood, tempo, instruments etc tagged in the name file and also I create a small rendered preview file so I can easily listen what its about.
    When in need for an idea and if I fail to conjure something up that satisfies me, this is an incredibly rich and easy to access resource.
    I agree with the Copland quote and no matter what, I always make sure I work on something. If it is not composing, studying/refreshing harmony, counterpoint, DAW thingies, etc. Learning and working on things keeps the flow going. Some days are better for midi tweakings while others are better for putting out ideas.
    Also find out what moments of the day work the best for you. For example I compose the best in the very early mornings, but I am horrible in the afternoons, while in the evenings I am often much better in tweaking or adjusting things in an project, these kind of things are good to know about yourself.

    In short, start to know yourself, your strong and "weak" moments and build a system for yourself around that.
  8. MarcusD

    MarcusD Senior Member

    Jul 25, 2015
    Things that tend to inspire the creativity:

    * Making your daily routine fun by completely flipping it on its head. Silly things like, purposely put two different coloured socks on, butter the bottom of your toast and put the jam on top, cut your sandwiches in a different shape.. It sounds crazy but you're actively being creative by alternately finding fun ways to do mundane tasks.

    * Don't get stuck at home twiddling your thumbs trying to force something to happen, take a break and go out, see your friends and do something, go a concert, a market, a play, a comedy show, anything that you enjoy. Having great experiences gives you great material to write about.

    * If you're not in a composing mood, try doing some sound design. Grab a mic and record yourself making weird noises then turn them into something awesome. Or play around with your synths and create some interesting new patches you can use.

    * Pay attention to your mood and create something which reflects how you feel.

    My absolute favorite thing to do, when completely stuck in a rut, is to take a melody from something like twinkle-twinkle-little-star, copy the melody rhythm then completely re-arrange the notes to create a new melody. It is possible to force yourself to create something, using set methods, but you don't always get inspired in this way.
  9. JonAdamich

    JonAdamich Senior Member

    Jan 24, 2016
    No composer/writer/artist is always inspired when he/she creates something. Get into the habit of writing every day, even if only a few bars. Even if only a few notes.

    This daily routine will help you get into the flow of things without the need of inspiration.

    I found most of those motivational quotes quite cheesy. But I always loved Mahlers: 'I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way.'

    Just write.

    ...oh, and take a nap or lay down for an hour if your a burnt. That usually helps :)
  10. blougui

    blougui Senior Member

    Nov 1, 2013
    Of course, try Brian Eno's and Peter Shmidt's Oblique Strategies.
    Just Google it, you'll find them online, for free.
    BlueStar likes this.
  11. OP
    ein fisch

    ein fisch Its getting better

    Jul 6, 2016
    Switzerland, Zürich
    For me this "just do it" can be quite difficult because i have ADHD diagnosis. In my experience when i do something just for the sake of doing it, im burned out after 2 hours, even when taking meds. For the whole day

    But on the other side when i get real fascinated / inspired on something, i spend sleepless nights on it, forget to eat and everything. And to be honest, i miss that feeling (i mostly had that when i wrote music when i was younger). Im sure every musican knows it, when youre writing that piece that speaks 100% out of you and you cant leave your pc for hours/days.

    Im aware, in the music biz its something else. Deadline is deadline, and you gotta get shit done sometimes even when you have no inspiration. But i was more talking about projects i do for myself.
  12. MartinH.

    MartinH. Senior Member

    Jun 16, 2018
    Maybe try meditation instead? Embrace the emptiness till an idea comes along. And if it doesn't, no harm done, you've just spent some time on an immensely healthy activity, that's a good thing in and of itself.
  13. Kyle Preston

    Kyle Preston I accidentally do things on purpose

    Aug 11, 2016
    Seattle, WA
    I've only tested this once but man was I creative afterward:

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  14. OP
    ein fisch

    ein fisch Its getting better

    Jul 6, 2016
    Switzerland, Zürich
    Thank you, you just remembered me to start with it again. I did it earlier, dont know why i stopped. Meditation is awesome

    I will definitely try that out tomorrow. Thx
  15. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

    Sep 14, 2004
    Los Angeles
    You're only born with 1000 creativities. Once you use them all up, that's it - you're going to be a pedantic bore for the rest of your life.

  16. Brian2112

    Brian2112 Senior Member

    Sep 1, 2016
    Hope you didn’t burn one of yours off with that post. :grin:
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  17. TimCox

    TimCox Senior Member

    Oct 14, 2013
    That's an issue here "for me" telling your self you have to be inspired to write is what creates writer's block. Write every day even if it's "forced and stagnant"
    Wolfie2112 likes this.
  18. OP
    ein fisch

    ein fisch Its getting better

    Jul 6, 2016
    Switzerland, Zürich
    Interesting. So, if i do that for some months, will it still be "forced and stagnant" or will i develop creativity trough just writing everyday even if im not inspired at all?
  19. TimCox

    TimCox Senior Member

    Oct 14, 2013
    I'm of the mindset that anything sounding "forced" is just me getting in my own head about it. And frankly, sometimes I just write crappy music, which is fine too. It's all education no matter what level you're at
    ein fisch likes this.
  20. dzilizzi

    dzilizzi I know nothing

    Feb 27, 2017
    Somewhere near Los Angeles
    Most of my ideas come when I'm driving. The beat of the turn signal starts a lot of songs for me. Some I even manage to catch on my phone's recorder.

    But really, any beat sound usually works for me - though not necessarily drums....

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