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When the inspiration won't come...


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#1 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 04:50 PM

What do you do? I've landed a project with a mobile game and I'm really happy with the team. We are all starting from scratch and things are going well. I have a character theme done as well as a variation for use in a different context.

Lately I've been trying to come up with more and the inspiration isn't always there. Sometimes I can't get out what's in my head and it drives me crazy and makes me frustrated to the point I can't really focus anymore, and sometimes I just can't think of anything interesting. I usually pick up my classical guitar when this happens, or go watch or play something that inspires me, but nothing has come of that lately and I feel like it's wasting time. What do you do?

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#2 fartheststar   Members   -  Reputation: 194

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:08 PM

for inspiration I flip through some drum loops and just jam (guitarist). something will come up.

#3 Tobl   Members   -  Reputation: 363

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 08:15 PM

Hello,

I'm not a composer myself (I'm studying design), but we learn quite a bit about 'finding inspiration' and getting past blocks. Our methods won't be applicable directly to music, but the general rules should be the same.

One thing common in many of the methods is, that they rely heavily on associative meanings. This is also why consuming media sometimes works, but then it's a matter of luck; what you need is a somewhat reliable method of creating lots of unusual association in a short time. I'm really sorry, but even though I know quite some examples in design, I can't really think of any in music (mostly because I know next to nothing in that area). However, a good rule of thumb for choosing one of these methods is: if it seems really silly and you think there won't be anything achieved even though you have to work for it, it's quite likely a good method.
The other big way of getting inspiration is to break things down to their essentials. One of those methods that's easy to transfer to music would be chaining. Ask two very different persons to name a song each. Start at one of the songs and find another that you can link because of a element that can be found in both songs. Repeat this and try to connect the two original songs with as few steps as possible, but don't cheat yourself, accept only links with solid argumentations. Your goal is not to beat the "chaining-game", but to find elements that you didn't think of before. Again, you most likely won't be using these elements in the composition, but hopefully your subconsciousness is brimming with patterns that you produced alongside.

One important thing concerning any inspiration-method: The method is not your main task, it's a tool. Therefore you should keep it really short (at least when working alone). When starting the method you will most likely have a phase where it doesn't really get going. After that comes a phase where you're in the flow and produce ideas faster than you can write them down (I didn't mention it, but yes, you always, without exceptions, write down). But as soon as that phase comes to an end and you go 15-30 seconds without writing anything new, you should sit back, look at your work, notice that it's somewhat okay or even nice (best to say that out loud) and get back to your composition.

And in case this sounds totally crazy and detached from pretty much anything practical: we're talking about german design here, the guys who do the boring, functional stuff.

Hope that was somewhat useful, even though it's from another discipline,
bw,
Tobl
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#4 M4uesviecr   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 10:09 PM

I'm actually dealing with that now! I think it depends a lot on you personally, but here are a couple of things that I have been doing to try to get myself out of a block (that have worked before):

- Listening to Music
A lot of times I get stuck on a song because I don't know how to transition, or what to add next. Yet sometimes, a song will come along on the ol' mp3 player that lights a spark...

- Exercise
Releasing endorphins can get the mind flowing as well. There have been plenty of times where I have been exercising and I get hit with inspiration.

- Writing
I really enjoy writing, and sometimes focusing on words, or writing down things from within help open up a mental block.

- Composing
Yeah, the whole purpose of this thread is the fact that you can't compose anything that seems to fit the purpose for which it is needed. There is a session that I engage in that is basically an expulsion of musical thoughts. I have a lot of ideas in my mind, but in my opinion, none of them are good (or fit the situation that I need them for). So, I just write. I get all of the ideas that aren't useful (at the time), out of the way to make room for new, and better ideas. I also see this as just jamming out. Taking an instrument and playing - No thinking, just letting the notes flow.

I hope I was of some use to you. I've been stuck in the same part of a song (two songs actually), going on a week now. I finally managed a breakthrough in one and college saunters over and fills my already overflowing arms with more work.

Edited by M4uesviecr, 27 October 2012 - 10:11 PM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob


#5 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 18738

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 10:33 PM

You mentioned that the whole team is "starting from scratch" -- does this mean that a lot of the characters and levels haven't been created yet? If you're having trouble finding inspiration it might be better to hold off until some more of the visual and programming work has been done so that you can see some of the characters, environments, and maybe even a playable level in action to help spark ideas and maybe give you something more tangible to base your music and sounds on.

Other than that, perhaps just try taking a good break, playing other games, listening to other music, etc. so you can approach it fresh.


Note that I'm only an infrequent hobbyist composer, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I hope that helps! Posted Image

#6 Nyaanyaa   Members   -  Reputation: 725

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Posted 27 October 2012 - 11:25 PM

Hello there dakota.potts,

there are a bazillion different approaches on the psychological level, such as what the others suggested, that may or may not inspire you, but most of the time overlooked is serving biological needs that increase creativity for anyone. It's not a "may or not" approach, it just works. Such things are:

Drinking enough water
  • Dehydration causes fatigue, fatigue slows your brain activity down and reduces focus. A slower brain also means time will seem to fly by faster! What that means is say you count from 1 to 10 in good condition and it takes you 10 seconds exactly, now when you're dehydrated you count from 1 to 10 at what seems to you to be the exact same speed as before in good condition but it actually takes you longer and maybe 11-12 seconds have passed.
Excercising regularly
  • Building muscle strength and endurance will reduce fatigue, increase your energy levels and your overall health.
  • Feeling tense? Stretching daily will help you relax not only your muscles but also your mind.
  • The increased heart rate during the exercise will increase oxygen delivery to your brain, which will increase overall brain activity. This is why M4uesviecr has been "hit with inspiration" before when exercising.
Keeping a healthy diet
  • Stay away from sugars. They give a quick energy burst, that doesn't last long however and afterwards your energy will be reduced drastically. If you really need an energy burst consume natural sugar instead (1 tablespoon of honey works great).
  • There's lots of info on this on the web so I'm not going to go into detail on how to keep one, but a healthy diet will increase your energy levels and overall health much like excercising. Both should be done in accordance to receive the greatest benefits.
One note here on vitamin D: Vitamin D can be produced through sunlight exposure to the skin. Lack of vitamin D causes fatigue. That and increased oxygen intake from "fresh air" - as compared to the air in the studio - is why a lot of artists swear by 'taking a walk outside' for inspiration.

The human body is like a machine. You can oil it well and keep it clean or let it rust and dust, but don't be surprised if you lack inspiration when you neglect your body's needs. ;)

I highly recommend the book 'Bruce Lee - The Art of Expressing the Human Body' which covers great exercises for bodybuilding, stretching, cardio, and in-depth knowledge on why and how it is good for you, as well as a section devoted to 'Fueling the Dragon (Nutrition)'.

Cheers and best of luck with your project!
Chris

Edited by Nyaanyaa, 27 October 2012 - 11:32 PM.


#7 CRFaithMusic   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1042

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 03:59 AM

If I normally feel like I'm getting frustrated with myself I take a break. For me forcing creativity never ever works so I just have a break for a few hours and I find that its come back to me. Once you start getting experienced it gets easier and easier to turn your "creative switch" on and I've found that just doing a little bit everyday no matter what helps with this.

Hope this helps :)
Caleb

#8 M4uesviecr   Members   -  Reputation: 419

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 02:48 PM

You mentioned that the whole team is "starting from scratch" -- does this mean that a lot of the characters and levels haven't been created yet? If you're having trouble finding inspiration it might be better to hold off until some more of the visual and programming work has been done so that you can see some of the characters, environments, and maybe even a playable level in action to help spark ideas and maybe give you something more tangible to base your music and sounds on.


Amen to that! I was on one project where I had exactly no idea what to write, and the reason was because I had no idea what type of environment, character, or level construct I was writing for! Of course, after seeing a screenshot, I realized that I would have written the song an entirely different way...

Edited by M4uesviecr, 28 October 2012 - 02:48 PM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob


#9 GeneralQuery   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1263

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:34 PM

"Writer's block" is a self-fulfilling prophecy, like worrying about getting to sleep. Creativity isn't something to be caught in the wind and coveted, turning it on like a tap is a skill that, like all other skills, needs to be developed. Enforcing time constraints is a good exercise for developing this skill but it takes motivation and self-discipline to actually enforce such constraints as it's easier to slip into old habits when things go good or bad or when you don't take the constraints seriously unless the constraints are real (i.e. work time constraints). If you worry about inspiration and treat it as some fleeting resource then you are only reinforcing the bad habit of writer's block in your mind. Once you stop treating it like a demon and instead treat it as the symptom of inexperience in a skill area that needs to be practised then it becomes more manageable.

Edited by GeneralQuery, 28 October 2012 - 04:35 PM.


#10 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:34 AM

Hello all,

It is a new project started from scratch, however, some progress has been made. Character designs have been done for a couple of characters. One I was able to write for. The problem started when trying to write for the other character. I could not, for the life of me, get it to come out of my head the way I wanted it to, and when I finally did, I wasn't feeling it anymore.

#11 Mathias29   Members   -  Reputation: 109

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:16 AM

maybe this sounds stupid, but i always take a bath ore shower,and usually something pops in my head.relaxing is the key (this works with me maybe it could work for you.)Posted Image

#12 dakota.potts   Members   -  Reputation: 455

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Posted 06 November 2012 - 03:07 AM

I am back to working and realized I just had to press on.

Apparently my dad goes through this with his interns. They overthink and analyze and can sometimes freeze because they think their code will never be great, yada yada. It's a common thing for him to struggle to get them to understand "The important thing is just to code, it can be the worst code in the world, it doesn't even have to work, just do it."

I've always been that way, so it's something I'll have to remember, in addition to much of the excellent advice above.

#13 Majestic_Mastermind   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:56 PM

Relaxed concentration/focus seems to be the key to me. When my attention-span and focus is up I seem to flow through tracks better.

Relax and focus on the music. Its all about having fun

#14 chimpspanner   Members   -  Reputation: 108

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:32 PM

I find my best ideas come when I remove myself from the task completely. I can sit in my studio for hours and hours and in the end, all I've done is look at my equipment. Soon as I put some distance between me and my stuff (taking a walk, cooking some food, playing a game or watching a film) ideas start to come. Not always doable I guess, but where you can, just give yourself (and your mind) time and space to breathe!




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