Losing creative momentum can be devastating to your current and future projects. Sometimes all it takes in a bad weekend or a break in your normal schedule and suddenly you feel like you are adrift with no idea how to get back to where you were.
This happened to me recently, though in my case, it was just raw burnout. I had been working at full tilt for 5 months straight. While I produced some of the best stuff I feel I’ve ever made, once the last project was finished and shipped, I basically quit writing music for two months.
When the itch to create finally crept back up on me, it felt like there was nothing I could do. Everything that was made sounded cheap and nowhere near the same quality that was produced a few months prior. So I set out to get my groove back.
I think it is called creative momentum for a good reason. You build momentum, it isn’t something that just turns back on from a standstill. It can be incredibly easy to get depressed and stuck in a negative feedback loop of “why does everything I make suck? I used to be awesome!”
One thing that helped get momentum going again was to work on mostly-completed projects. I worked on refining and updating a small EP that had been sitting around for quite some time. This didn’t really make me feel like I was better at music, but at least something was created, and it was a start.
What finally got me feeling like I was doing something worthwhile was forcing myself to make things on a set schedule. In my case, I started a Two Hour Track Challenge that I streamed live twice a week. This not only gave me a challenge to think about every few days, but also it was something quick and in the end, there was a complete output. It helped re-teach that failure isn’t really a bad thing.
While this process is ongoing, after four weeks of doing this, I feel more like my old self than I have in months and that is so very important.
To recap, the best way to get your groove back is to make stuff, no matter how terrible it might initially be. Creative momentum is something that is built over time with hard work. It can be hard to force yourself to make things when you aren’t feeling it, but setting a schedule and accepting that the things you make might be terrible for a while will go a long way to getting things moving again.
Here are somethings you can try:
- Make things under a very harsh deadline (look into the Pomodoro Technique)
- Set a schedule and find a way to ensure that it happens every week (getting family/friend participation helps a TON)
- Find inspiration in randomness! Use theme and title generators, find ways to extract your everyday life and turn it into inspiration.
- Take risks and make snap creative decisions without the fear of failure
- Tinker with old projects and things that you abandoned
- Use Oblique Strategies to revitalize stagnating projects
- Try new styles and workflows
Obviously there is a lot more out there than just this, but it’s a start. In the end, all you need to get your groove back is to power through all the gunk that has built up during your downtime. It’s hard to get back in the saddle, but the alternative of sitting around pining for the days when you made stuff is so much worse. Good luck!