How To Get Over Producers Block Faster than Ever
At Mostro our whole mission is to help music producers get inspired to make awesome beats everytime you sit in front of your DAW.
Writer’s block is real for artists across all crafts, and I want to help you avoid it as much as possible, or get over producers block in the fastest way possible.
First and foremost, understand that beat block is just you, there’s no outside factors or enemies but your own mindset when you sit down and try to make music with no luck. In the same way, getting over beat block is also just on you and a change in your mindset.
I think beat block happens when your mind needs some time to recalibrate and refresh before coming back stronger.
What matters is that you experiment, try a few creativity-boosting techniques and find what works so you can get over beat block fast. Usually what works best is pushing through the ick with some sort of action instead of staying frozen.
One of the books that made the biggest impact in how I approach my creative process is Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. This book helped me identify and get through those moments of absolute drudgery when it seems impossible to put out anything decent - or even mildly decent.
Here are a few things you can do next time you’re just staring blankly at your DAW and get over producer block, adapted from Kleon’s recommendations.
But steal well.
Sometimes artists praise originality when in reality, nothing is original. Whatever you make and put into the world is ultimately a result of everything that you’ve heard and has inspired you or left an impression in your head. It is impossible to separate yourself from your influences so that’s why you’re only going to be as good as the other producers you surround yourself with. Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.
Of course this doesn’t mean trying to literally copy someone else’s work. But finding someone who’s work you like, and then dissecting it, trying to find who their influences are (ahem, who are they stealing from) is one of the best creative exercises you can do. You can't make something different unless you know what makes something different, and studying your references is the quickest way to understand the rules and how to break them.
It is in this constant “stealing” that you mashup bits and pieces from everywhere and develop your own personal style as a music producer.
DON'T WAIT AROUND FOR INSPIRATION
It’s in the act of making beats and doing our work that we figure out who we are.
You’re good. Start making stuff.
Even if it means just dropping some random drums on your DAW, get started and go from there. And if this seems daunting or it feels like it isn’t going to work, reframe and don’t think about your beatmaking session as work, but simply play.
A great place to play is a genre you don’t make. If you usually make hip hop, take an afternoon to dive into a minimal techno tutorial and make a techno track for a change.
You can also start with some guitar loops or sample packs to use as a starting point.
IF THERE'S SOMEHTING LACKING, MAKE IT
Think about your favorite producers, the ones that inspired you to get into production in the first place. What did they miss? What didn’t they make? And what could’ve been made better? If all your favorite producers got together and collaborated, what would they make with you leading the crew?
Start with a song you really like and study it deeply until you find everything that’s wrong with it, and then switch it up to a better version of it.
You can also take a piece of any song, a sample, the structure, the vocals, or any piece of it as a base to start building.
Remember the goal in any of these steps is not to have the most perfect or even finished beat, just getting the juices flowing to get out of the rut.
TAKE AN ANALOG BREAK
Computers are the best tool ever for so many things. However the ctrl+z can bring the perfectionist in us, and make us start editing before the ideas are even finished.
Grab a physical instrument if you have one near, incorporate a piece of hardware into your work, or play with the objects you have at hand and explore sounds you could make. A random thing can be the perfect hiding place for a complete beat idea.
If you’re absolutely not going anywhere with these tactics, and still not a drop of creativity is coming out of you, procrastinate.
And I know it may sound taboo, as procrastination being regarded as the mother of all evil and the killer of productivity. But this neglets the mental space any creative person needs to replenish and start making awesome stuff again.
Go for a walk, dedicate some time to another hobby you like, go play with your dog/cat or go watch a random tutorial. Reframe procrastination as productive procrastination and go do something else for a while.
Something great about music production is that it has so many aspects that there is always somehting to advace on other than the beatmaking itself: take a productive procrastination break while working on your social media, making some drumkits, recording some fun samples, or learning something new.
Warning: Scrolling mindlessly on your phone or bingeing on netflix don’t count. Try to find an activity that nourishes your creative spirit to rush producers block away.
SHARE YOUR WORK
Processes are just as valuable to share as final beats and on top of that, you’ll build a relationship with the people on the other side of the screen.
The more open you are about sharing your passions, the closer people will feel to your work.
Share your thinking process, your unfinished beats, everything. Ask for opinions and collaborations. This will enrich your beatmaking and final projects.
Your sorroundings play a huge part in how your mind works. Your studio space acts both as a reflection and a reinforcer of where you’re at mentally.
If you’ve been feeling in a rut for a while now, try rearranging your studio, or changing where you make beats altogether.
Even cleaning up will switch up the vibe around you and make you feel like a blank canvas with a clear head. Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to switch things up now and then to shake ideas up.
THE WORLD IS SMALL
Follow and network with producers who already are where you want to be.
You’re only going to be as good as the producers you surround yourself with. Follow the people who are way smarter and better than you, the people who are doing the really interesting work. Pay attention to what they’re talking about, what they’re doing, what they’re linking to.
The great thing about this day and age is that you can find all those people straight from the comfort of your couch, in your favorite online platform.
Ok. Now you’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, a few ideas have popped into your head. The next step is to sit for a while and do some work.
Amassing a body of work or building a career as a music producer is a lot about the slow accumulation of little bits of effort over time. One beat a day is not much. But do it for 365 days and you have enough to build a style, an audience and a business.
To get over beat block, place some constraints on yourself. When it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom.
Make things with the time, space, and materials you have, right now. The right constraints can lead to your very best work. Invent a deadline for yourself, or some strict guidelines like limiting yourself to 5 instruments or commiting to using only sounds you hate.
When you’ve been making music for a while, it’s easy to get stuck or bored with the process or feel like you have run out of ideas.
To counter this, we need to experiment. Experimentation is what breeds creativity.
Everytime you sit in front of your DAW, embrace this experimentation mindset and let yourself play.