Clearing The Mind For Writing

How do you prepare for a studio session when you’re producing music? Do you dive right in and get started? Do you do some stretches? Deep breathing? Yoga?

I walk. I love walking, especially during autumn. The leaves are late turning this year, but over this past week the foliage really started becoming beautiful. I walk a mile before I start in the studio for the day. I also make sure I take a 15-minute walk break every hour. I love being in the studio, but it’s easy to get carried away. After four hours of that, someone has to carry me away.

Sometimes when I’m walking, I put the AirPods in and listen to anything motivational/inspirational. Favorites are Earl Nightingale and Norman Vincent Peale. Often they give me a needed mental boost to dive into my work once I get back to the studio. Other times I just listen to nature when I’m walking, especially in the morning. I find there’s something about stimulating all of the senses before composing music that seems to unleash the creative flow. Taking those fifteen-minute breaks every hour helps refresh both the mind and the ear, readying me for another one-hour session of writing, mixing, or recording.

How do you prepare yourself for your writing?

Goal Oriented Writing

For years, any time I sat down to write music, I did so without any real goal for the music in mind. I may have known that I was going to write a piece for a music production library and that I was starting with a basic piano track as the bed, but often I didn’t have any set goal or roadmap of where the song would go. Instead, I would start and just see where inspiration took me and where the song ended up.

One day it hit me that what I was doing was akin to pushing a kayak into a lake and letting it go wherever the waves take it. Sure, it’ll definitely end up somewhere, but that’s not saying much. A much better way, I decided, is to lay out the parameters for the song beforehand and stick with them.

For instance:

  1. This track is to be 2:00 in length.
  2. The feel should be light and happy.
  3. Instrumentation will be piano, light strings, and light percussion.

Once I get those parameters defined, I start writing. I don’t deviate from the parameters I’ve established. Right away, I’m guided by these limits, which are good. I can’t tell you the many times when I was creating tracks the old way how often I would get to the middle of it and realize that I had veered completely off course and the track was now something much different than the one I started. Or a track that was intended to be light and airy ended up being an over the top wall of sound production.

With those three parameters for the track set, I get to work composing and producing the track within them. You’d be surprised how creative you can be when you’re forced to work within boundaries. I find it makes creating tracks a much more efficient and concise process. And so far I’ve been liking the results.

Have you done anything similar? Feel free to comment.

Till next time…