2015 saw the return of one of the most successful franchises in film history. The Force Awakens raked in $1 billion in 12 days. Madness ensued. Finns, Reys and Kylo Rens filled the theatres for early screenings. An Australian couple of super-fans even got married at a screening.
What else happened in 2015? Saudi Arabia elected their first women into power. Shit went down in Syria. The US voted for same-sex marriage. We went to Pluto (kind of). I wrote an album.
You might be thinking that one of those things seems slightly less spectacular than the rest - and you'd be right. But to me, someone who hadn't written a song in 6 years, managing to write an album was a pretty big deal.
It all started around 2009. Up to this point, I'd been knocking out several songs every week for the past few years. I was prolific - but not in a good way. My songs rarely reached the finishing line, and I'd too easily move on to the next project. Still, I was enjoying it, and I believe this experience is essential to being a great audio engineer.
Something - whether it was failing college, family life, being left behind by the University bandwagon, or something within me - stopped all of that. My piano became a source of dread and guilt. And to make matters worse, I was a young adult with no studying to do, no job, and no creative outlet - though if you find yourself in a situation like this, bear in mind that it could actually be a good thing. Those months of learning C# and watching YouTube videos actually played a huge part in my future - but that's a story for another time.
Writer's block is a mysterious thing - so a lot of people have written about it, trying to find the key to banishing this creativity plague. The problem in my case was that almost all of the advice I got did absolutely nothing to help, which left me with a piano collecting dust and an enormous sense of guilt for the label I'd promised an album to.
It's difficult to know how long a block will last, and even more difficult to know when it's going to happen. However, what you can do is prepare yourself.
So what did I do?
I don't claim to be an expert in psychology. I can only tell you my experiences, and hope they'll give you some inspiration.
Here's how I cracked it:
Step 1: Went through a bunch of my old stuff - demos, unfinished work, and those rare gems that I actually finished
Step 2: Narrowed it down to just a few songs, and sent them out to a bunch of relevant labels
Step 3: Received offers from almost all of them
Step 4: Panicked with the realisation I'd have to actually make more music
...okay, so that's not the end of the story. The key is to get over that panic.
Of the offers I got, one stood out to me as a label I'd really love to be with. They loved the track I sent them, and they wanted 2 more tracks in 1 month to get it released at the perfect time. And guess what? I did it. I put this down to two main reasons, and here they are:
1. WHO CARES?
Being an unsigned musician or producer is often a thankless life. It's easy to become disillusioned and jaded when you are constantly feeding the world with your creativity and getting nothing in return (friends and family excluded). If you can put yourself in a position to receive feedback on your music from people with influence, you can give yourself that push to carry on. I used SubmitHub; target labels and blogs that are at the right level and style for you. For a little investment, you can even use premium credits that guarantee feedback.
2. THE PUSH
I was given 1 month. My previous record deal was to produce an album in 1 year. It was a good deal, but the longer you give yourself to complete a project, the longer it will take to do it. Creative projects have a tendency to fizzle out. Work by excitement, and motivate by "the push". Give yourself a tight deadline, something unimportant at first, but ensure the end result will be rewarding. Give it a go, you might just beat that block yourself.
Have you ever had musician's block? How did you get through it? Leave your experiences and advice for others!