The city is a hectic place. So what better place to try and find peace?
In my attempt at finding peace while living in the city I’ve had to learn a valuable lesson: how to slow down.
When I slowed down in both my music making and my life things that I had often thought I’d never be able to achieve started to come more within my grasp. Albeit trivial for some, having a sense of structure always felt out of reach for me. I would rush through completing tracks with the idea that having a vast library of compositions counted for more than the quality of the pieces themselves. Too many thoughts would flood my mind with ideas, such as which chord progression to use, and I would become so overwhelmed that I’d not be able to complete the composition to its greatest potential.
But when I removed the deadline from my music-making, and let it become more of a journaling process, I found myself much more at ease with my creative flow. By a journal I don’t mean literally a journal (although I would advocate that it is a good idea to keep a journal if you’re like me), but my concept of writing tracks has now become more of an exploration of a new technique I’ve learned, or a chord progression. My goals have become easier to reach because I’m not rushing myself.
As I’m writing this I realise that setting a deadline for yourself can sometimes be a really good way to get up off your bum and do something. But I think it’s important not to let yourself swing too far so that you become stressed and create problems that aren’t there. I think as creative types we are susceptible to swinging between extremes, and I would urge anyone reading to find a balance between ‘working’ on tracks, and exploring.
A few techniques that I will recommend that might help are (I think this sort of thing is subjective, but I personally hate it when articles tell you that you’re doing things wrong without suggesting exactly how to fix them):
– Not every day has to be a creation day. You are allowed to have days where you just mix, or write several riffs and nothing more, or flesh out a skeleton track, or work on just sound design. You don’t have to do everything at once. Figure out what kind of day it will be before, or as, you sit down at your computer. Sometimes the time of day might suggest what you do – for example I find I am more creative in the mornings so I use that time to write, whereas in the afternoon I usually stick to mixing. Always remember as well that your routine is allowed to change, you don’t have to stick to one particular set of rules. In fact, I would go so far as to say that as a creative person, it’s your job to stay open to the possibility of change.
– It’s ok to take breaks. This one I struggle with. I feel that as a musician of any kind it is a ratio of 90% work and 10% results. So much of our identity can come from our output. I would urge you to try thinking against this performance-based mentality. Instead, the thing I would recommend would be to follow your peace, because the circumstances in which you create will be reflected in your output. So take a break every once in a while and play some video games/read/whatever helps you recharge!
– Discipline yourself. I know. But before you close this tab, I want to clarify again that I’m not suggesting you take a rigid approach to your craft. It is just that in my own experience I’ve found myself very susceptible to whimsical distraction, be it Facebook, or any other tangent. All I’m saying is maybe just get a stopwatch app, or an egg timer from Coles and do a solid hour (or two) of work. By the end you’ll feel incredible, because you’ll be able to see how much work you’ve done that day.
So I hope this helps. If you have anything more to add feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, happy writing/practicing!