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Book recommendations on overcoming my mental/emotional blocks with music
Old 24th March 2020
  #1
Book recommendations on overcoming my mental/emotional blocks with music

hey GS,

thanks for taking the time to read this. I'll try to keep it short as I can. I'm 32 years old, I've been 'playing' guitar since I was 12. Around the age of the 13, I remember one time thinking 'you know what, I could do this, as a career.'

the...problem? was that I grew up in a family environment with tons of academic pressure, and i was intelligent as well, which also (and unfortunately) covered deep seated issues of anxiety. there was no way i could have pursued short of running from home (dead serious), and i just wasn't confident in myself enough to do such a thing.

around the age of 17, my dad passed, and i just never really recovered from it until the past few years. i did a degree in psychology, then went into IT in my 20s. many many times i thought about doing a music degree, but i FEARED being broke, etc etc. 24/7 i would think about music in class, analyze any and every single song on the radio (deconstruct), now ive come to accept, it is part of who i am.

IT was a ticket out of the house and i thought 'okay ill have enough $$$ to pursue this more seriously' because the reality was i was just broke all the time, had no space to record, and my laptops would always crash and i'd lose ****. i changed cities (6 years ago), and have been living on my own which has been immensely helpful.

i would daydream about being musician, i played in some bands, but could never find motivated enough musicians or people that saw things eye to eye.

i didnt work on my craft enough, i didnt know my purpose. now, i feel i know my purpose (which sounds weird saying) but its to be a musician and release songs in any/every way possible, it has to happen.

the problem is, when i think about recording and the whole DIY stuff, I get overwhelmed. the past 2-3 years i built a small bedroom studio, with acoustic panels, a PC, desk, accumulated gear i needed, etc. i got fl studio, reason (i like fl studio for workflow), a few keyboards - trying to learn keyboards (or i should be accurate and say, i think about it and dont follow through - a pattern).

i tried doing a 'house' song for fun with a friend in feb 2020 - and have gone through like 40 drafts, and the past 1.5 months, i just havent worked on it all, i wouldn't say i gave up, just too frustrated. it was meant to be just a side project.

when i think about everything i want to achieve, all the music theory i need to learn, how i need to become a better guitar player, singer, all the tracks i have to record, mix, EQ, etc etc, i just get so overwhelmed. this electronic song in particular, i just feel its utter CRAP, but, i told myself i will FINISH it, just to get it done, release it on streaming platforms, as a way of learning.

i guess im making up for all the lost time in my 20s, but i just feel i may have lost too much time. some times i still think about going to music school, but i feel that will just be another way of procrastinating, and scared of being broke.

my real goal is to record an EP or 4-5 songs, which is not actually even house - its guitar sort of pop, jazz/blues, acoustic stuff. but i just find im not consistent, i did finish writing two songs with lyrics, but they aren't recorded.

and i want to finish that damn electronic song. the past ...15 years (can't believe it), i think about all the music and song ideas i have, and when i hear other people's music on the radio i feel like ****! i should have had something released by now. maybe im not good enough, maybe i suck, i suck, i can't do this, i have to do this.

the DIY studio idea was my friends, my initial idea was to go into a real studio with worked out songs (not recorded perfectly but drafti-sh) and have a pro work with me to record them properly and take the edge off. i believe i have the $.

but my friend convinced me other wise, and here i am, trying to do all this stuff but it just feels like a lot. i'm also not in the best space (condo), but i can make do. i just feel frustrated, i work in IT, then to spend more time in front of the computer with plugins, etc, etc, i just lose my motivation. i do love playing guitar and writing that way.

i have all the tools! i guess, i feel i need help with my mental game. i dont believe in myself, i know it, i think too much, and its holding me back in getting music completed, not to mention in life. i lack discipline, self belief, and if i want to get these songs done, i need to work on these qualities..

are there any books anyone could recommend me to help a more positive attitude, ability to finish, etc? any advice helpful thanks.

or maybe a suggestion in terms of how im trying to do this? i joined recording revolution recently and have been watching his videos to be a bit more confident in what im doing.
Old 24th March 2020
  #2
Gear Guru
 
henryrobinett's Avatar
I have not read everything but I have a suggestion. I don’t get writers block. But i think it’s because of the way I do it. Just write. Just write. Don’t be concerned whether it’s good or not. Take it even further and decide to write absolute crap. Just get the wheels rolling. Don’t invalidate what you come up with. Don’t judge. Just do it.

Better yet step away from all of those toys. Pull out a guitar and pencil and paper. Don’t record ANYTHING. Just WRITE. Get the juices flowing. Learn to trust yourself. Be a child. I don’t know. Get the hell out of your own way. Don’t try to impress yourself or anyone else. Just play.

It’ll come.
Old 24th March 2020
  #3
Lives for gear
 
robotchicken's Avatar
 

You're good enough. It just takes time for ppl with high expectations. Ppl are releasing turds every day...but sounds like you're not about that.

It'll come. Be patient...
Old 26th March 2020
  #4
thanks for the advice/comments everyone. i agree with the idea of not judging (although that is my nature), and that i should be patient. i am very impatient but i feel like i kind of have to be now cuz im not getting any younger.

there's a few books im thinking about getting, one is 'awakening the power within' by tony robbins. i heard good stuff about it but still doing some more research.

there is another book called 'the war of art' which i believe is around the same subject.

i may post this in 'low end theory' since it might get more traction in that forum.

actually, i am part of recording revolution (well, i signed up for his course on EP blueprint), and also he has another sort of community thing. Graham had a live QA call this week where participants could ask him any questions.

i asked him this sort of question, like how to deal with frustrations/blocks to creativity or the feeling of being overwhelmed by all there is to do.

his take on it was interesting and his suggestions were the following:
- find collaborators for areas you are weak in (for example maybe you are a good guitar player but electronic production is not your forte)
- dont try to do everything, or focus on doing everything i.e. frank sinatra only sang, etc.

the issue with the first point was ive always had a difficult time finding collaborators or i just didnt put myself out there. part of the reason i built this small studio in my room was so theres no more excuses. but maybe ive bitten off more than i can chew if im desperate to get stuff done now.

regarding his second point - although im a decent guitar player, i want songs with a voice. my guitar playing is okay...i think i still have potential to be a really good guitar player, which im trying, but its just hard with time. recently, i started singing (so i dont have to keep looking for singers).

it makes me think about alot of stuff i have thought about before. before i built this home studio, i thought about just recording very rough draft demos of songs, then working on them with an engineer in a real studio, and hiring musicians for the job for certain parts.

the problem is i dont write music, although im sure theres software to help with that, i can read a bit of music just not the best at it. but anyways, i figure that could get expensive.

in the last few years i have found my own 'voice' although i have to take vocal lessons to improve my voice.

as an example, recently i wrote a sort of bossa nova folk style song, with the guitar parts and lyrics and vocals, and i know in my head what the song should sound like. i can sing it too, but vocals is not my forte. thats where maybe going into a studio would help, or, maybe i can try looking for online collaborators...hmm
Old 26th March 2020
  #5
Lives for gear
 
robotchicken's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguarguitar View Post
thanks for the advice/comments everyone. i agree with the idea of not judging (although that is my nature), and that i should be patient. i am very impatient but i feel like i kind of have to be now cuz im not getting any younger.

there's a few books im thinking about getting, one is 'awakening the power within' by tony robbins. i heard good stuff about it but still doing some more research.

there is another book called 'the war of art' which i believe is around the same subject.

i may post this in 'low end theory' since it might get more traction in that forum.

actually, i am part of recording revolution (well, i signed up for his course on EP blueprint), and also he has another sort of community thing. Graham had a live QA call this week where participants could ask him any questions.

i asked him this sort of question, like how to deal with frustrations/blocks to creativity or the feeling of being overwhelmed by all there is to do.

his take on it was interesting and his suggestions were the following:
- find collaborators for areas you are weak in (for example maybe you are a good guitar player but electronic production is not your forte)
- dont try to do everything, or focus on doing everything i.e. frank sinatra only sang, etc.

the issue with the first point was ive always had a difficult time finding collaborators or i just didnt put myself out there. part of the reason i built this small studio in my room was so theres no more excuses. but maybe ive bitten off more than i can chew if im desperate to get stuff done now.

regarding his second point - although im a decent guitar player, i want songs with a voice. my guitar playing is okay...i think i still have potential to be a really good guitar player, which im trying, but its just hard with time. recently, i started singing (so i dont have to keep looking for singers).

it makes me think about alot of stuff i have thought about before. before i built this home studio, i thought about just recording very rough draft demos of songs, then working on them with an engineer in a real studio, and hiring musicians for the job for certain parts.

the problem is i dont write music, although im sure theres software to help with that, i can read a bit of music just not the best at it. but anyways, i figure that could get expensive.

in the last few years i have found my own 'voice' although i have to take vocal lessons to improve my voice.

as an example, recently i wrote a sort of bossa nova folk style song, with the guitar parts and lyrics and vocals, and i know in my head what the song should sound like. i can sing it too, but vocals is not my forte. thats where maybe going into a studio would help, or, maybe i can try looking for online collaborators...hmm
It's actually quite simple man...

We live in a society that is against art. From the time we could walk we've been trained to be anything but creative...

Once you break away from that, you've got it...
Old 3rd April 2020
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
I have not read everything but I have a suggestion. I don’t get writers block. But i think it’s because of the way I do it. Just write. Just write. Don’t be concerned whether it’s good or not. Take it even further and decide to write absolute crap. Just get the wheels rolling. Don’t invalidate what you come up with. Don’t judge. Just do it.

Better yet step away from all of those toys. Pull out a guitar and pencil and paper. Don’t record ANYTHING. Just WRITE. Get the juices flowing. Learn to trust yourself. Be a child. I don’t know. Get the hell out of your own way. Don’t try to impress yourself or anyone else. Just play.

It’ll come.
Only a true artist would write such a comment. OP, please read the message above again and again and again. Stop the thinking process and write. I remember Prince with hundreds and hundreds of unreleased songs, constantly writing and writing and writing ,day, and night. He never cared about writing the perfect song, he only cared to be in the moment.
Old 4th April 2020
  #7
hey Andrei, robot, thanks for the suggestion.

the thing is, i dont have writers block when it comes writing songs or songwriting on guitar (electronic yes but i can understand that because its not my 'homebase' to be on a computer).

im happy with a few of the songs and i need to record them, the songwriting aspects of 2 songs in specific, i am happy with the lyrics and guitar, arrangement.

but i seem to have...'recording paralysis' because when i think about the actual work of doing the studio side of stuff, it gets overwhelming. like all the overdubbing, tracking things in my room, etc.

for example, tracking drums, i'd have to use like ez drummer or NI (i have NI).

but i kind of hate working with sample libraries to me, it feels lacking the human component and its a huge pain in the ass.

the idea i suppose would be to JUST DO IT but, i dont want to deal with it, if im honest. part of me feels like maybe going into a studio would be better.

like maybe recording rough drafts at home, then, get everything on score sheets, and if necessary, go to a studio and rerecord it with a professional engineer who knows the proper mic to use for a/b/c situation, etc.

i guess, i feel overwhelmed by having to wear the all in one hat.
Old 10th April 2020
  #8
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaguarguitar View Post
hey Andrei, robot, thanks for the suggestion.

the thing is, i dont have writers block when it comes writing songs or songwriting on guitar (electronic yes but i can understand that because its not my 'homebase' to be on a computer).

im happy with a few of the songs and i need to record them, the songwriting aspects of 2 songs in specific, i am happy with the lyrics and guitar, arrangement.

but i seem to have...'recording paralysis' because when i think about the actual work of doing the studio side of stuff, it gets overwhelming. like all the overdubbing, tracking things in my room, etc.

for example, tracking drums, i'd have to use like ez drummer or NI (i have NI).

but i kind of hate working with sample libraries to me, it feels lacking the human component and its a huge pain in the ass.

the idea i suppose would be to JUST DO IT but, i dont want to deal with it, if im honest. part of me feels like maybe going into a studio would be better.

like maybe recording rough drafts at home, then, get everything on score sheets, and if necessary, go to a studio and rerecord it with a professional engineer who knows the proper mic to use for a/b/c situation, etc.

i guess, i feel overwhelmed by having to wear the all in one hat.
Ok, that's good news. So don't bother with the recording, believe me, there are tons of people that actually love the entire process, you either find them in studios or you can hire to come at your location, you can include the mixing, and the mastering, you either pay them or invite them to be part of the band or something, it's perfectly fine to accept your limitations, there are very few great artists that do the entire production on their own, you're no exception, find the right people and move on, best!
Old 10th April 2020
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Check out this ted talk by Bassist Victor Wooten might help little. Very inspiring.

https://youtu.be/2zvjW9arAZ0
Old 10th April 2020
  #10
Gear Nut
I had similar problems in past. I spent countless hours finetuning and changing stuff already made which led to songs taking forever to finish. I did this all because I wanted them to be perfect or the best I could do but where they? No. They are overdoing it.

One day I challenged myself to do a song from start to finish in 24 hours. This way I must get thing done and just do stuff instead of trying to get a perfect sound out of some instrument. The song was simple but I kinda liked it more than my past ones because it had some of the rawness I've been wanting. But the best thing I learned from this was that I can do it 24 hours. I can make better music than 95% of all the ****ty techno I listen to in just 24 hours!

This boosted my self-confidence in song making so I'm not going for the perfect sound anymore. I'm just trying to do good music in reasonable times!
Old 24th April 2020
  #11
hi guys, been a while...thanks for all the suggestions.

the good news - i started working on the electronic song again, just been keeping at it every few days and it's gotten way better. maybe this is a stupid brute force way, but i guess there is no way around hard work and tears.

the song is not exactly where i want it yet - but I am a lot happier with it.I just want to finish this song in terms of sounds, arrangement, notes, when it comes to mix and master i might outsource it.

my goal for this song is to have a finished product with vocals on it, that i can use to learn the marketing/social media aspect of the music biz these days.

there's a few things i wanted to share which have helped me to get back on the computer, and actually WORK on the music instead of procrastinating, overwhelming, etc. - disclaimer: it's not perfect and im still searching for ways to 'get over myself'.

1 - a simple rule will smith (the actor) suggested, 'keep running'. i read this on a creative writers blog for creative writers that have issue starting on a blank page. it quoted will smith, basically he said, the way he knows that works for success is to just keep going (keep running) no matter what, and dont stop. most people quit. i will try to find the link if anyone is interested.

2 - tony robbins goal setting method - basically breaking stuff into very small steps. actually, its funny because i did this technique right before googling tony robbins, and it end up this guy use a very similar technique.

for example, in my 1st post in this thread, i wrote down the aspects that stress me out because there's a lot to learn etc and i feel an immediacy to get my music out there cuz time is cutting short.

in the example of the electronic song i was getting overwhelmed because i would think "this is crap i have to fix the bass, fix the arrangement, fix the sounds which are all ****, then mix it and i dont even know how to do it professionally and i want it to sound professional, find a singer, AH FU** THIS IS TOO MUCH IMMA WATCH NETFLIX'.

so then i decided to just write in my journal about it. i took what i want to achieve (record an electronic song that is released on streaming platforms and get X number of plays), and then broke it into the small steps. so something like this.
1. fix the actual music
- come up with a better bass line
- fix the arrangement, i hate X part of the song
- record/come up with/fix the middle break of the song
- etc
2. test patches through my hardware synth - minilogue xd
- set up midiout plugin with fl studio just for the bass patch to minologue
- save it as a new file
- play with patches until one sounds right (or if it doesnt, scrap)
- re-record the synth
- do this for A B C D instruments
3. record vocals
- come up with melody for vocal lines
- write lyrics, 1 or 2 verse, and chorus, keep it very simple and catchy.
- record vocals, one verse at a time...
- melodyne it

etc etc....

I found this really help me focus on one part at a time, just writing it out breaks all those neuron in my brain firing wildly together, and putting it on paper seems to break the spinning circles.

i realize it is probably very much overkill for most people, as someone with anxiety about performance and projects, i find this is helping a lot so far. i will share any other tools i find helpful.
Old 24th April 2020
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keministi View Post
I had similar problems in past. I spent countless hours finetuning and changing stuff already made which led to songs taking forever to finish. I did this all because I wanted them to be perfect or the best I could do but where they? No. They are overdoing it.

One day I challenged myself to do a song from start to finish in 24 hours. This way I must get thing done and just do stuff instead of trying to get a perfect sound out of some instrument. The song was simple but I kinda liked it more than my past ones because it had some of the rawness I've been wanting. But the best thing I learned from this was that I can do it 24 hours. I can make better music than 95% of all the ****ty techno I listen to in just 24 hours!

This boosted my self-confidence in song making so I'm not going for the perfect sound anymore. I'm just trying to do good music in reasonable times!
i know some of the better songs i did in bands were the ones that we wrote quickly ad didn't think too much.

electornic music im not so good because ive not done enough of it, but in terms of getting overwhelmed, i find the above helps.

but, i am gonna try your suggestion in the near future.
Old 11th July 2020
  #13
I know I'm chiming in kind of late but I've found these very helpful to me over the years as far as at reducing frustration, gaining insight into the creative process, and gaining an overall perspective of the risks of a creative career.

Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner
google: The Universal Mind of Bill Evans
google: Why your recordings sound like ass
google: Jordan Peterson: Advice For Creative People
Old 11th July 2020
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

I would add that finishing and publishing are important steps in moving forward. It’s something I struggle greatly with myself, but all of my real steps forward have come with finished projects. Almost all of the early stuff I finished is junk, and that’s ok. I can listen to it and hear some gems amongst the junk, but it’s not stuff I can imagine too many people listening to regularly. The process of finishing a song and uploading it for good is extremely cathartic, and I think the more finished pieces, the faster you progress. Many of our early productions are NEVER going to be perfect, no matter how long we spend on them. Quantity leads to quality.

If you are a guitar player, Brad Carlson’s lessons on diatonic chord progressions from TrueFire are good as are Mathieu Brandt’s songwriting and chord courses.

I’d also suggest trying Ableton for composition. I found it noticeably easier to write full songs when I moved to Ableton with its nonlinear workflow. Logic may manage that now as well, but I’ve yet to explore.
Old 11th July 2020
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

I think the Seinfeld ‘chain’ method of not letting the chain of days where you’ve written (not noodles or made patches) or worked on mixing your material is a good practice too. Print a one page annual calendar.
Old 12th July 2020
  #16
[QUOTE=Jmfreeland;14851925]I would add that finishing and publishing are important steps in moving forward. It’s something I struggle greatly with myself, but all of my real steps forward have come with finished projects. Almost all of the early stuff I finished is junk, and that’s ok. I can listen to it and hear some gems amongst the junk, but it’s not stuff I can imagine too many people listening to regularly. The process of finishing a song and uploading it for good is extremely cathartic, and I think the more finished pieces, the faster you progress. Many of our early productions are NEVER going to be perfect, no matter how long we spend on them. Quantity leads to quality.

This is so right. We must write a lot of junk. The good ideas come on their own accord.

I don't have the answer for finishing stuff though. But writing almost everyday whatever pops into my head (good or bad) is what keeps me going and I keep building my skills. And this gradually is getting me closer to capturing more of what I hear in my head without a lot of struggle--just getting fluent in the musical language writing anything and everything at least keeps you going. And if I have a day where I'm not thinking of anything, I make up writing exercises. An example is taking an existing song you really don't like and writing new chords for it.
Or taking a masterpiece and trying to change it around just for the hell of it---still working with music material, still practicing ones craft.
Old 9th August 2020
  #17
Gear Addict
 

No need/time for a book, a quote will do.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.
It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.
And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.
We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.
We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.
And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile.
You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

― Ira Glass



Look up Steven Pressfield quotes on resistance also.


Old 9th August 2020
  #18
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
..its holding me back in getting music completed..
Not gonna psycho-analyze you over the web.

..,but a classic reason for never finishing anything is fear of being not as good as one hoped for.

Finish 200 songs, you'll be much better.

And if you still kinda suck, which is quite possible, we will still love you.


You know Forgotify?

Look it up.



All the best.
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