Got an email a few weeks ago from Gabriel.

The subject line was “Losing My Inspiration.”

He shared that he really wants to spend more time playing guitar and making music, but he never does. He’s either too tired or worried it won’t make a difference.

Here was my reply:

Here’s what I would say. I recently read and re-read the book The War of Art. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s a quick read, and it might help you deal with some of this.

In the book, Pressfield calls what you’re doing “Resistance.” Resistance is the thing that keeps you from creating art. It comes in many forms.

He quotes a famous author who answered the question, “Do you only write when inspiration strikes?” The author responded, “Yes, I only write when inspiration strikes. Incidentally, inspiration strikes every morning at 9am sharp.”

See, he sits down and makes himself do the work every day, and it has a funny way of making inspiration strike.

Avoiding the issue won’t solve it. Waiting for the stars to align won’t work. You’ll never have a 12-hour block of time where you’ll be completely uninterrupted, where you can just PLAY.

But it sounds like the desire to play is there, you just need to act on it. You SAY you want to play, that you crave it, but your actions tell me that you don’t really want to. Something is in the way.

Are you worried you’ll waste your time? That what you play won’t be any good? That’s a common concern. The truth is…it might NOT be any good. And that’s okay. The more you create, the more likely you’re going to stumble onto something great. The less you create, the less likely that’s going to EVER happen.

I think you know the answer.

Just go play. No strings attached. Don’t judge it when your done. Give yourself X minutes to play, then walk away. If everything you play is garbage, okay, no big deal. Walk away. Then come back and do it again tomorrow.

Do that for a week or two. I bet things will turn around for you.

Joe

Substitute the word “play” above with “mix,” and you’ve got a recipe for drastically improving your mixes.

I talk about that in my new eBook, and we’ll be seeing this principle in action as a part of the new Understanding Mixing class.

Sign up here to get started:

www.UnderstandingMixing.com

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

  • Roger

    That’s a great post, Joe.
    I have that feeling myself, and I believe that you’re spot on!
    I would probably add that sometimes we also need a goal, even if a personal one.

    I believe that it’s obvious that someone who actually learned how to play an instrument (or various instruments) and write his own songs has the necessary skills and love for it.
    But even as a hobby, having a goal may make a huge difference. The goal can something like recording a EP until the end of the year (or a specific time/occasion/task).
    Sometimes we do it just for the fun of it, but sometimes we’re just being lazy. And I’m guilty as charged as I’m typing this, because I should be in front of my daw, recording the tune that I’ve been listening inside my mind for a quite a while… :S

  • ironman2819

    Great post Joe! I have run into that wall/plateau/wall before… and that is the key… its a wall at first… then it becomes a plateau the longer you go without a breakthrough and then you hit another wall… This wall prevents change mainly because you have to let go…

    Gabriel say he is losing his inspiration and perhaps this “Resistance” comes from playing the same old thing the same old way with the same old sound.

    The solution? Time for what I like to call “Musical Abuse 101”

    A perfect example is playing one type of music in a completely different way.

    Example #1… Barbra Streisand’s “Feelings” as performed by “Metallica”

    Example #2… Garth Brooks’ “Friends in low places” as performed by “Wayne Newton”

    Example #3… Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as performed by “Joe Pass”

    Learning a different approach, whether it be as simple as playing the same 3 chords in different inversions or positions can bring to light new colors and influence. Looking outside the box (and even picking up the box and looking underneath) can reveal many new opportunities for inspiration to flourish and grow!

    • Andrew Bauserman

      Good suggestion ironman2819. Found a real-life example recently: Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” as performed by Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Social Distortion (all on YouTube). Three interpretations of the same song — and they each “made it their own.” In the case of Ray Charles, he *really* made it his own; and then played it live on Johnny Cash’s TV show!