Trying new equipment
New software and hardware are so interesting. And so distracting. I understand that. I made my money as editor for computer magazines and my job was to test new software (and sometimes hardware). I made a job from my passion, and I was quite happy with it. This behavior sticks and I must force myself to not test tool after tool. Because this keeps me away from making music.
What I try to do: Staying away from new equipment and focus on what I already have.
Watching too many reviews or tutorials
This is how I played Minecraft: I started the app a few times and played about five hours spread over a few days. Then I started watching Minecraft videos. Why play when somebody else can play for me and I can enjoy. Nothing wrong with that. Therefore, we watch sports. But watching tutorials and reviews keeps me away from being creative.
What I try to do: Watching less reviews and tutorials. Asking myself: Do I really need to watch this? Does it improve my skills?
Always wanting to do something perfect (This piece must get ready and be good)
Being a freelancer for almost 30 years now I am used to work in projects. Get an order, process it, and deliver a finished project. I am used to this process, and I am quite focused when it is about deadlines and projects. On the other hand, this mindset doesn’t help always with creativity. I always want to finish a project and I don’t allow myself to just fiddle around. And this leads to the next point:
Not allowing myself to play around (just noodling is a no go) Procrastination and just fiddling around is fine – if I do it with my synths or my DAW. Unfortunately, I want to do something meaningful or useful instead of noodling and making nonsense. This is wrong.
What I try to do: Allow myself to make nonsense with my instruments. This is part of creativity.
Putting pressure on myself (I want to improve)
This is an old problem of mine: Putting too much pressure on myself. I always did that, and it was not only a bad thing. But in music it is a problem. I always want to improve, and I don’t want to fail myself. This is not very healthy, and I had my share of issues with that.
What I try to do: Being kind to myself and allowing myself to spend some time with unproductive stuff. I just want to play, and I must allow that to myself.
Not taking breaks (sounds paradox but I need to get away from music every now and then)
Sometimes I am too much into a project and I am losing that distance you need sometimes. I am so stuck in that project, and I do not have that birds eye view I would need.
What I try to do: I try to set aside the project for a few hours or even days before I touch that again. That break from working at it helps me to approach the project with a fresh view and new ideas.
Being stuck to a Genre – Not getting out of my comfort zone
I love ambient music and I mainly do ambient drones and sounds. But I need to get out of the genre, trying to do more percussive stuff, even techno. Leaving my comfort zone is the only way to discover new sounds and new ideas.
What I try to do: Playing in other genres even if I don’t have the skills to do that. It is about new ideas not about perfection.
Trying to please others
I am not a famous musician, nor will I never be. So why am I still trying to please others? I make the music for myself – this is the only thing I do just for fun and learning (set aside a few customer’s projects when I create sounds for videos).
What I try to do: Stop thinking about other people’s opinion about my music. Just create for creating and fun.
Not calling myself an Artist
Yeah, I am no artist. But maybe I am? Do I have the skills to call myself an artist? What will other artists think about me.
What I try to do: I should call myself an artist.
Question ever little decision – micromanaging myself
Micromanaging is what bad bosses do: They want to rule every little detail in your work, questioning every little thing you do. How toxic! And here I am questioning myself about every little decision I made with my music. Do I really need that note? Is that really a good sound? That is not helpful while creating. Of course, it is ok to improve your work – but not during the process of creation.
What I try to do: I let myself go and I work in stages – a creation stage where I just let my creativity flow and a review stage where I work on details, change things, and improve my work. It is so much easier not to stand in my way while creating.