Composing: Where does your inspiration come from?

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I recently began using a new service called Wiselike to manage the various questions I often receive about composing, music production, and the music business. One question that often comes up is: Where do you draw your inspiration/creativity from? So I thought I’d write a blog post on this topic.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

For many years I believed in the concept of the muse being responsible for all creativity and inspiration. The muse that came only when it wanted, and in the most inopportune times. Some people carry voice recorders, or use their smartphone, and record ideas as they pop in their head. Lyricists keep notebooks at their bedside, and will wake from a dream with a lyric in their mind. Put it down before it disappears! I still believe in this to a certain extent. But as a professional waiting for inspiration is not enough. If you have a deadline, you don’t have the luxury of waiting for the muse. You must force the muse to show up by getting to work!

Write, Submit, Forget, Repeat!

Write, Submit, Forget, Repeat! This is a mantra that has come out of the composer community of LA based (An independent A&R company). It really sums up the actions required for success as an artist and composer. The hardest part is usually “Forget”. And could be applied to just about any other artistic/creative discipline. Rather than waiting for the muse, just start writing. Is all of it going to be great? Of course not. But the sheer perseverance of doing this regularly will, with time, bring more and more consistent results. So I believe we have the power to drive creativity by doing the work. Do the work daily with full intent and focuss.

Surely there must be sexier tips that can help?

Yes there are some things that I can say drive instant inspiration. Playing new instruments, whether physical or virtual, can inspire new creative ideas. Along with instruments, you can also get inspired by certain effects or production techniques. These things can sometimes inspire cool hooks. Think of The Edge from U2 and all his great guitar effects. Some U2 songs would not be the same if not for that unique sonic signature. As a guitar player, putting on new strings can be very inspirational as well. A time when this type pf inspiration happened comes to mind: One afternoon last year I pulled out my cavaquinho (Portuguese ukulele), which I don’t use often, and started playing on it. All of a sudden a middle eastern vibe emerged. I immediately recorded the idea, added some percussion, and Al Arabiya was created! I had never written anything like this, nor did I know I had it in me.

Turning Pro!

A series of books that have helped me push through some of the struggles as a composer are, “Do The Work”, “War of Art”, and “Turning Pro”. The author is Steven Pressfield. Turning Pro talks about the differences between the amateur and the professional. In my personal experience I’ve seen the difference. After turning pro I no longer wait for the muse to bring me inspiration. I simply do the work! This leads me to my main source of inspiration nowadays: The requests from clients! I know it might sound boring but it’s far from it. The request can often be for music outside of my comfort zone. And on a deadline! This seems to work well for me and for other colleagues I’ve talked to. Often when working on a deadline and trying something new, cool things happen. Happy accidents! When you have all the time in the world, you over analyse, and over censor. When on a deadline you allow the creativity to flow more freely. Since making this switch I’ve become much more productive and creative.

Have your say!

In the comments section share what things help you get your creative juices flowing. If you like the article and would like to read future one by me, please follow on Twitter, join the discussion on this topic on my Facebook group, sign up for my Mailing list, my RSS feeds, or my Medium page.

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