My Creative Habits
In this blog entry I talk about some of my creative habits that put me on track to become consistent and consequently prolific at making music, but you can replace the word “music” with whatever your “thing” is, be it writing, drawing, any art or even learning work related skillsets. The point of this entry is really prioritization and discipline.
I spent my entire adult life “waiting to have time to make music”. My approach to hoping for creative time to happen had always been “work all day, and then make music in the evening or at night”. Truth is, night time after work is likely the time one finds themselves in the LEAST creative state of mind.
I mentioned in previous blog post that the Start Now Finish Fast course by Mike Monday was the first time I realized how terrible my creative habits were. The bullet points of this course were as follows (I want to make sure I give Mike full credit for just about everything in this blog post btw!)
- Instill a Morning Meditation Habit
- Instill a Morning Routine of music creation
- Set a minimum viable time for this session, even if only 15 minutes
- Focus on the quantity of your music, instead of the quality of your music
- Neuro Linguistic Programming exercises for goal setting
These are the most basic bullet points, and I invite anyone to go check the course out because even though it’s a few years old now, it is still full of gold. Mike has since developed lots of other awesome courses so make sure to check them out as they can profoundly improve your creative habits (I’m not an affiliate or anything, just a fan but for full disclosure I am a member of one of his coaching mastermind groups).
I have to admit I’m not as consistent as I want to be on this. However, there is no doubt that my music sessions are WAY more focused if i spend as little as 15 minutes meditating first. I use an app called HeadSpace and I love it! This reminds me, I need to start meditating more consistently, so I’ll write that here for some accountability.
I study and read a lot about entrepreneurship, and it is evident that all the most successful leaders in any industry have one thing in common: their morning routine is not negotiable. I admit I’m also a bit inconsistent at this, but I have the advantage that even if i wake up late, I can still do music first since I have to luxury to work for myself. However, if I have to be somewhere at 8am, you better believe I’m going to be up at 6am working on some tunes with a liter of coffee! The most productive music sessions I have had took place between 6 and 9am. When you start with what you WANT TO DO, then doing all the stuff that you HAVE TO DO after becomes 10x easier. I believe that as humans, we start to build resentment towards our daily routine when we feel like it gets in the way of our hobbies and creative outlets. The answer for me was to approach music production prior to starting my work day.
I guess if one is serious about wanting to make music, the first question is: “What is your WHY? Why do you want to make music?”
Once that concept becomes more clear, the next logical question is: “How bad do you want to make music or learn to do whatever that thing you want to learn is?” If you really want it, you’ll wake up an hour earlier. It’s crazy because I’m literally the opposite of a morning person, but it turns out I AM a morning person! It also turns out that you are whatever you tell yourself you are. So tell yourself that you are the person that does that thing you want to do, before the thing you have to do. One of the things Gary Vaynerchuck often talks about is “to escape the 9-5 with the 6-9”. Except he means pm, while I mean am because I think creative work is more of a morning thing.
Even if it only means a….
15 Minutes Minimum Viable Session
In my interactions with Mike my “minimum time required to make music in the morning” has gone from 2 hours to 15 minutes (!). The problem with aiming to always have long music sessions is that sometimes one does not have two hours to work on music before work or other commitments. However, even the busiest of people can almost always have 15 minutes to dedicate to something. And procrastination is the first thing that shows up especially in the morning! Very often sitting at that damn desk to make music is the last thing I feel like doing. However, a goal of a 15 minute session is always an easy enough mental obstacle to surpass, unlike a 2 hour session, which you will very easily talk yourself out very often! SHOWING UP IS THE HARDEST PART. Also, I can’t count how many times i set down to do “at least 15 minutes” and ended up in my studio for 3 hours. And if you are thinking“I can’t possibly get anything done in a 15 minute music session”, this is definitely not true. 15 minutes a day is 1 hour and 45 minutes a week. That is 91 hours and 15 minutes a year to dedicate to your craft. If I had done 15 minutes a day in the ten years I barely created any music, I’d be sitting pretty on an extra 1000 hours of learning right now! Not to mention its never 15 minutes, it’s always more. It’s just the 15 minutes makes you show up.
Quantity over Quality
This is a very counterintuitive concept, but it is for sure true. In order to achieve quality in your music, or any art or interest, you must put quantity over quality. Because quality is what happens when you do something over and over. We have all heard of the 10,000 hours rule, that’s what they say it takes to achieve mastery in anything. So if someone spent 10,000 hours working on 10 songs, vs someone who spent 10,000 hours and has created 500 songs, who is going to be the more skilled songwriter? Always the person that has created “the thing” the most times. You can spend countless hours polishing a Mr. Hanky Poo of a song, or you can bang out 10 tracks and see if any have potential to keep going.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) exercises for Goal Setting
if you know Tony Robbins, you know how powerful what we tell ourselves is as far as designing the life we want for ourselves. However, the part that most people miss is how powerful it is to write down a mind map of the things you want to happen in your life. Two of my favorite exercises in the SNFF course were called “The Well Formed Outcome” and “The Perfect Average Day”. This stuff really works, and is what people often refer to as the law of attraction, “wanting something so bad that it becomes true”. Well, that’s not exactly how it works: Getting CLEAR on what you want, how you will get it, and what will happen and not happen if you do or you don’t, is actually what makes people achieve those things. We are not talking about “I want to win the lottery”, but rather actionable path forward to reaching your goals. And writing these things down will help your brain condition itself to follow that path, much more than having them being one of the million thoughts you have in one day. This is proven by science. SCIENCE MAN!!!
I love splurging! Most of my tracks are born out of live splurges. The Splurge is really an “idea” splurge. The practice is to sit down at your instrument or whatever, and just put down the first thing that comes out and commit to it. A “dance like nobody is watching” type of scenario, disregard what it sounds like just do it. I read Tim Ferris writes down 10 ideas every morning or maybe he said someone else taught him to, regardless the point is to become prolific at having ideas since the brain is a muscle, and creativity needs to be exercised. What is funny that sometimes I’ll record something that sounds like total garbage, and then when I re listen weeks later I realize that in actuality there are multiple things that could be used in other projects, or sometimes they are songs of their own.
So these are some of the major creative habits that helped me get back on track with music making. Hope they can give you some inspiration on how to boost your creative habits!