Songwriting is challenging even in the best of times.But after wrapping up a big project like an album or mixtape release.
After wrapping up a big project like an album or mixtape release, it can be downright difficult to find the time and energy to make new music.
While it might be tempting to take a break from songwriting after recording and releasing an album, you might wanna to think twice…
Waiting too long between your releases can be bad news for your craft, career and the comfort you get from creating.
Creative fulfillment for the right reasons is vital for any musician who loves making music, even when you’re feeling tired, uninspired and spent.
So how do you bounce back after a big creative push? And more importantly, how do you make sure creating is the solution, not the problem.
Here’s 4 helpful tips for re-thinking your process after wrapping up a big release, and some strategies to help you nurture your passion in a healthy way.
1. Change up your songwriting process
Predictability is the enemy of innovation. When you’re burnt out it’s too easy to rely on your same old routine.
After all, innovating takes time and work—two things that don’t come easy after a big project.
Ease back into your own process by exploring different ways to begin new material:
- Spend some time with new instruments
- Collaborate with musicians whose sound will push you in new directions
- Experiment with new soundscapes and tempos you’re not used to working in
- Explore some new sample packs, VSTs, audio effects or music theory that’s unfamiliar to you
- Switch your focus from music to sound—get to know your textures and tones on a deeper level
- Loop and jam freely to find that spark that made you inspired in the first place
No matter what you choose, find ways of starting that will make your process exciting and new again.
2. Get back to basics
Simplicity can be a huge benefit for creativity in songwriting.
In fact, some of the most impactful musical ideas are the ones that embrace simplicity. But it’s not easy. Simplicity takes practice.
But stripping your music down to its most basic musical elements is a good way to rejuvenate your songwriting practice and refocus your creative energy on pure sound.
Even something as low-key as recording a few acoustic cover songs can help you reset after a long album launch, tour or mixdown.
So if you’re looking for an easy way to put out music while you regain your creative footing, covers are a solid option.
Inviting the simple pleasures back into your workflow will help you ease back into creating and clear the path for your next big project.
3. Discover new music
Have you been making music for a long time? That’s great, but I’ve got news for you: No one is ever “done” learning about, exploring and seeking out new music.
Ever feel like you’ve already heard everything there is to hear? You’re doing it wrong.
If creative burnout is keeping you from making music, it’s probably time to drop what you’re doing and find something new to listen to.
There’s a universe of sounds, techniques, styles and musical viewpoints out there for each genre of music.
You don’t need to love everything you hear, but taking the time to explore unfamiliar music will help give you a new musical perspective to work with for your own songwriting.
Suggestion algorithms are great for reminding you about what you already love.
But going off the algorithm grid for awhile and exploring some genres and performers you may have not heard before is a great way to hit the reset button on your inspirations.
Here’s some activities that will help you connect the dots between different eras of music and sound, and stumble onto some musical inspiration you wouldn’t normally explore:
- Allmusic: Allmusic is a “comprehensive and in-depth resource for finding out more about the albums, bands, musicians and songs you love.” Their Discover section gives you access to songwriting credits, bandmember lineups and biographical information for pretty much every music project ever. You can even see where an album was recorded, similar albums and even search music by mood.
- Discogs: You probably know Discogs as a marketplace for buying and selling music. But it’s also a massive database of recorded music that can lead you down some seriously inspirational rabbit holes. Exploring music by label, country or genre can turn into some juicy new discoveries real quick. Plus, users can create their own playlists and add releases to build crowdsourced playlists you won’t really find anywhere else. Log on and get lost for awhile.
- Your local record store: I know, I know, this is the ultimate cliche these days. But after months of sitting and listening in front of a computer, or constantly refreshing your streaming stats to see how your release is doing, some offline music time is well worth it. Your record store is just the place to dive deep into the corners of music without all the digital noise.
4. Take care of yourself
This last point is the most important…
After spending a ton of time and energy creating music for your big release, it’s common for more than an artist’s creativity to be impacted.
Take care of yourself!
Make sure the bills are paid, eat healthy, sleep at regular intervals and relax—you’ll have the best chance to get back into your songwriting practice refreshed and ready to create.
Music has put me into debt and hurt my personal relationships more than a couple of times throughout my career, but contrary to popular belief, all that suffering never seemed to make me a more creative songwriter.
I’ve learned I’m most able to focus on my music when my life is stable. Today I make every effort I can to take care of myself first and my music second.
Every songwriter’s process and background is unique, but if you’re feeling creatively unmotivated or lost it could be because other important needs in your life aren’t being met. Addressing those needs could be what you need to get back on track.
In the circle of music
Creating isn’t always a perfect circle. It takes time, energy and motivation to continue moving around it.
Going from releasing back to making is the hardest step… But it’s also the most rewarding.
It’s a time of reflection where you get to remind yourself all the personal reasons you started on your journey in the first place.
Take the time to give yourself that friendly reminder. So when you hit record it’s for all the right reasons.