When it comes to music production, the best way to fuel your growth is to continue making music. However, just like any creative person, producers can be faced with the age-old problem of writer’s block, which can make it challenging to make beats.
Thankfully, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to bust writer’s block as a music producer. With the help of these strategies, you’ll be able to create some breakthrough beats in no time at all. Let’s jump into it!
Below are 11 strategies to help your break writer’s block. Consider trying out more than one. Different strategies may work better on any given day than others, so it may take some tinkering to figure out what works best for you.
Create Creative Constraints
Have you heard of the paradox of choice? Essentially, this theory states that too many options can make it challenging to make a gratifying decision than if there were fewer options available. In short, fewer choices lead to more efficiency and greater satisfaction.
Sometimes, the same principle can be applied to music production. As producers, we are constantly faced with a myriad of choices, which can be stifling as much as it can be freeing, depending on the circumstances. Hence, a great way to beat writer’s block is to deliberately limit your production possibilities.
This could mean forcing yourself to incorporate a set sample into your song or enrolling in an online music production challenge. It could also be making a song around a new drum pattern or setting a deadline for yourself, like, “I want to finish this song demo from start to finish within two weeks.” Another way to jumpstart creativity is to limit yourself to working from just one or two sample packs.
Whatever it may be, hold yourself accountable. Creative constraints can be great for jumpstarting creativity, but they’ll only serve you if you see them through.
Pick a Different Starting Point
If you’re used to starting with the beat, try working out the chord progression first. If you find that you write melodies before lyrics, attempt to do so the other way around. It may seem inefficient, but periodically switching up your workflow can help inspire new sounds, especially if you find yourself in a creative rut. Take the production scenic route, so to speak, and experiment with a new approach to your creative process.
Set a Timer
Many times, we stop ourselves from even opening up our DAW because it’s so challenging to get started. However, once we’re in the groove, time passes quickly. With this strategy, the goal is to get you producing as soon as possible so that you can work past that initial writer’s block.
Challenge yourself to produce (and actually produce, not listen to what you created in the previous session on a loop) for at least 20 minutes a day or every other day. You’ll find that once you get started, you might naturally end up producing for multiple hours at a time. Some days you won’t, and that’s okay too. As long as you’re using your timer to get yourself in the production chair, you’re sure to make some real progress in no time at all.
Find a Collaborator
There’s nothing like social pressure to reignite your creative flame. Seriously, production collaborations are perfect for beating writer’s block. Not only will you have another musician to hold you accountable, but you’ll be able to mix and match musical ideas to build a stronger, more eclectic mix.
If you don’t know any producers willing to collaborate personally, take your search to the internet. Reddit forums, TikTok, Instagram, SoundCloud, and even Discord are full of potential collaborators that are only a message away.
Create a Playlist of References
Every great artist is built upon the references that paved the sonic way before them. There’s nothing wrong with taking direct inspiration from some of your favorite songs! Whenever you’re feeling blocked, take the time to curate a playlist full of some of your favorite songs at the moment.
Actively listen to the playlist and figure out what speaks to you in each song. Is it something about the beat? The melodic phrasing? Whatever it is, attempt to take that insight into your next beat. Don’t copy exact notes or chord structure of a particular song, but use the more macro ideas around a song’s framework to build a stronger beat.
Find Some New Samples or Plugins
Thankfully, there is no shortage of samples and virtual instruments in today’s day and age. Bust your production block by downloading some new samples or investing in a plugin you’ve had your eyes on for a while. BPM Create has no shortage of samples and files that you can easily filter by genre, label, or even aesthetic to kickstart your new beat. If you’re trying to make bangers on a budget, you can also find plenty of free sample packs to generate new ideas in your mixes.
Start on Hardware or a Physical Instrument
If you’re stuck in a production rut, try starting on a physical instrument or hardware piece before moving over to your DAW. You’d be surprised how much this simple change can influence your creative process. If you don’t have access to any hardware pieces, try starting with a voice memo alone. Music can be created from anywhere and everywhere, and you never know which idea will spark into one of your favorite beats.
Make Production a Habit
Beat making is a skill, just like anything else. That being said, prioritizing consistency will do you a lot of good in the long run. You’ll find that the more you make music, the less you’ll have to deal with writer’s block. Remember that music production and working through writer’s block are both separate skills. If you don’t take the time to cultivate either, creating music will be more difficult than it needs to be.
Follow a Tutorial Outside of Your Typical Genre
There’s a lot we can learn from other genres of music. If you have no ideas for what you want to create on any particular day, look up a tutorial outside your usual genre. While you may not end up releasing the track, it’s a great exercise that will teach you new production techniques and might just pull you out of your production block.
Make a Remix
Creating a remix is easier than ever with thousands of samples at your disposal. Plus, you’re already given a foundation to build off, which can work wonders for sparking new creative ideas. While you can’t release an official remix without the permission of the original creator, creating your own fan remixes is a great way to network and grow on social platforms like SoundCloud and TikTok.
Let It Sink In
You might be struggling to produce because you don’t have something to say. Sometimes, it pays to take a step back and take a break from your DAW, but don’t use this as an excuse to avoid creating altogether. If you’re not making music today, spend your time consuming other art, taking a walk, or listening to other tunes to feed your next beat. You can find inspiration from anywhere if you’re willing to seek it out.
Writer’s block can happen to anyone, but the important takeaway is that everyone can work through it with a little strategy and patience. Hopefully, these 11 methods make it easy for you to remove your creative block and get back to cooking beats! Have fun producing!
About the Writer
Kate Brunotts is an audio engineer and music producer from New York City. When she’s not writing about music, producing music, or singing and songwriting, Kate helps others realize their unique sound, whether through a fresh mix, new instrumental approach, or total rework of a particular sound.