Finding Your Inspiration

In the creative industries, it can be extremely difficult to rely on your own motivation and inspiration to make sure your projects are truly the work that you intended.

Intrinsically linked with our emotional well-being, motivation can be fleeting and inspiration can dry up if our circumstances are challenged out of our control. Luckily, inspiration can come from just about anywhere if you look carefully enough. Yet, you must act quickly before the moment has slipped through your fingers.

"Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it - Bob Dylan”

When we think about creating a new piece of music we’re almost unconsciously and automatically selecting beats, rhythms and patterns from multiple artists we’ve listened to in the past.

These artists could’ve found themselves in exactly the same position before as you do now. So, the guitar riff you’re listening to, the fuzz effect on a bassline or the heavy compression used on a drum kit comes from an amalgamation of genres, technology and skill levels to get the point where you can put your own spin on it.

Can Too Many Tools Affect Your Music Production?

Although we’re living in a time when making music has never been more accessible, sometimes we can be spoilt for choice. It’s easy to see how this can interrupt your creative process. When you sit down to work on your next track, how do you begin choosing from thousands of available virtual instruments, presets and plugins? How long will you spend finding the perfect drum loop before you’ve forgotten what it was you were working on and the moment’s passed?

For a lot of musicians, when we start out we’re limited by many factors. From our gear and equipment right down to our skill level. Rather than get caught up by not having top quality equipment or lacking professional musicians to bounce ideas off, we find creative solutions to keep making music and celebrate when a breakthrough is made.

As the years go on and our standards start to rise, we become more critical of our work and find that the initial excitement of playing in a garage band, experimenting with found sounds or just creating for the sake of creating, fades away and inspiration can run away with it.

If you’re finding yourself in a rut, doing something out of the ordinary is normally the best way to get yourself out of it. Whilst you may get distracted by looking towards Instagram for wild aspirational accounts to try and mimic the lifestyles of globetrotting bloggers, there are some easier, more attainable ways of getting over your creative slump.

Here are just a few of the ways we like to get back on track when we’re feeling in need of an inspirational hit:

5 Tips To Help Get You Feeling Inspired

1 - Break your routine

Routine is often cited as the enemy of creativity. With most of our daily lives centred around working it can be difficult to find time to be creative, particularly when our day to day is so set.

Combatting this is as easy as breaking your normal routine, even for just one day a week. Take a different route home from work, try cooking new recipes or go for a run first thing in the morning. Even though it sounds trivial, you just might find it helps to change your mindset.

2 - Get a change of scenery

Following on from breaking the familiarity of your routine, you should also be mindful of where you work. It’s important that you’re comfortable in your workspace, but you don’t want to end up complacent.

If you’re usually in the same studio at home or work all day, take a laptop, headphones and a mini MIDI keyboard out to a coffee shop or a park and watch that inspiration flow.

3 - Be creative any way you can

Sometimes is easy to find yourself bogged down by perfectionism, letting minor details or flaws spoil your flow. The best way to get around this is just to switch off the part of your brain that judges your every move.

Spend half an hour just playing with soundscapes or loops just for the fun of it. Draw or paint your thoughts on a canvas just to get them out of your head or simply write your thoughts down in a journal.

Most of the time when we’re stuck creatively, we’re bound by fear of failure, so just start creating and be fearless.

4 - Listen to new music

The best thing about working in the creative arts is that inspiration can appear from anywhere. Painters can be inspired by authors, authors can take inspiration from sculptures and so on.

For musicians, referencing other genres is a great way of picking up new ideas for beats, rhythms or hooks that you wouldn’t normally come across. Listen to examples of baroque era four-part harmony to see how intervals can be used. Pick out some tension creating dissonance from jazz or even modern pop to find a vocal hook to pull your composition together.

Challenge yourself by picking out a sample pack at random from Prime Loops’ huge range of diverse genres, from future bass to reggaeton, and see what you can come up with by experiencing something out of your normal tastes and reference points.

5 - Limit yourself

Photo Credit: Gavin Whitner,

For new musicians, most of the fun comes from playing in a band with friends in a garage, trying to make the best sounds out of cheaper instruments. When we start to invest in more gear we start to move away from finding creative solutions to problems and opt for a quick get-out from a pedal, preset or even an entirely different instrument.

So what better way to rediscover your inspiration by going back to your roots and limiting yourself with only the essentials and see what you can come up with.

Don’t Give Up!

If you’re struggling to finish a piece of music just because you’re running low on inspiration it’s so easy to simply call it quits and leave it unfinished. We’re all guilty of having drives full of abandoned projects, recordings which didn’t quite get anywhere or just those that we felt weren’t good enough.

But don’t succumb to perfectionism. Pushing through the creative blocks rather than giving up will benefit you further down the line and help to harden yourself against procrastination and other excuses.

If you struggle with time management then try working in focused, short bursts of 25 minutes, with a 5 minute break (otherwise known as the Pomodoro technique). Alternatively work in longer runs of 50 minutes followed by a 10 minute break. Or if it’s good old motivation that you’re lacking, collaborate with a friend on a project so you’re both held responsible for delivering the finished result.

Finally, don’t be afraid of using sample packs or loops if you think that you need a little something extra to your mix. As we mentioned before inspiration can come from just about any creative source, so take some samples and mash them up across genres, change the tempo or pitch shift a loop or use instruments or vocal clips that are outside of your skill set to create something truly original.

How do you avoid getting stuck in a creative rut when inspiration runs dry? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages and share your audio clips with Prime Loops.

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