You know it’s time. The ideas are there, and you can hear the melody inside of you. Maybe you feel the rhythm in your hands. Perhaps you already got the chorus down, or the last verse for your unwritten song. The build up of emotions and ideas that will be your fuel when you are about to reach that flow state.
And it begins: a writing or recording session at your studio. The moment is just right.
Practicing, recording, re-recording, and editing as if you were in an infinite loop. Hours, or even days of this process go by until you know you got it down. Then, it is time to mix and master your song which is an art form itself. You bounce the track one last time and listen to your work with excitement. When you share your new song with a friend and they like it, or someone online comments on it, you know you did something good.
This is a brief description of how the music process goes for me. I am writing this post to reach out to other musicians and producers, and see how your creative process looks like. Perhaps we can inspire each other, or find new ways of doing things, or even new words to express how this process feels.
I have noticed that I have a series of routines I do when it is time to sit down and record or mix a song. I believe doing these steps let my mind and body know that it’s time to be creative. Think of it as setting everything right in order to work on the craft.
- Listening to music on shuffle-mode: I do this when looking for inspiration, or to study the elements of genres or artists I enjoy but I am not familiar with their structure. This could last for a day, or for weeks until I get a sense of what is going on musically within that style. My focus lately has been Lo-Fi hip-hop, post-rock, and shoe-gaze.
- When I’m ready to record, I tend to do it early in the morning and mixing late at night: I find myself recording right after my morning coffee during the weekend because there are fewer distractions going around. Late nights are best to do mixing because I can do it a lower volumes and without being disturbed.
- Drinking coffee before and during the creative work helps me focus: or at least I have that psychological association with it. This is a reason why I try to limit my caffeine intake during non-recording days: usually one cup in the morning, and maybe another one during the afternoon if I need to do homework. When it’s time to create, then my intake increases.
- Being aware of how much “in the zone” I am during recording sessions: this is the most important for me and also the hardest to do. The reason I started to be more aware of my flow states is because these come with a price: more often than not, I tend to skip meals, skip breaks, or neglect things that are important to me. I get so absorbed when I am making music that sometimes I end up more mentally and emotionally drained than necessary. Take breaks, and take them often.
- Know when to call it a day: creative plateaus do happen, and once I start doing the same idea over and over again, my mind gets tired, and I become less objective. If I get stubborn, I risk getting frustrated and loosing that flow state for good. Now every time I feel I am going in circles on a given idea, I stop recording for the day. Usually, the solution happens after some time, or I find a new way to develop the idea.
The above is a condensed description of my routines and steps that I do when it’s time to record. Some of them are safety measures in order to avoid burn out or reaching plateaus.
What are your routines? Is there something that you do that enhances your creative output? Are you doing something that helps you prevent burn outs? Let me know in the comments.