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Being creative from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Of course the title is half joke, but still, half serious. Being burdened with multiple tight deadlines in the last two weeks I often contemplated about the process of getting into the creative mood/process. It is not something you can precisely plan ahead.

Many times I wish it could be as simple as a morning routine:
  • wake up
  • make breakfast for the family
  • shave
  • shower
  • go to work
  • and then, simply be creative
But this is not how life works. Sometimes creativity just here with me, no need to wait, no need to try things, just go on and work. These are the good moments or days. But there are those other days, when creativity seems to take a “vacation” and doesn’t want to be with me.
When the deadlines are here to make me mad, I have to do something to open up the door, and let creativity come in. Obviously it’s not an easy task, but I have some tips that helps me, and might help you to get over the hard times.

1. get over it, accept it

Getting mad won’t help you out. Yes, it always feels like one of the most hopeless thing, but we all know that it will end, and eventually creativity is going to come back from its “vacation”. If you constantly focusing on the problem, it will get worse, and if it get worse you’ll be getting more furious, which inevitably will make the situation even harder to treat. Instead of anger try to focus on some little good things (tea, weather, music, anything really), but make sure you try to stimulate your brain with some positive attitude.

2. get a break, but not from the job

Maybe the best thing in these hard times would be to go away and do something completely different, but unfortunately deadlines are not such free creations, they are mandatory.
To break this, simply start doing it. If that day your job is to cut some ambiences, do it. If you need to create something special, do it.
I know it may sound stupid, but this is one the best method. Do not concentrate on the bad things, just do what you have to do.
Alternatively try to audition sound effects randomly. Don’t force yourself to search for specific categories, or something closely related to the current job, just listen, wander through the libraries. Many times, you’ll find some really interesting sounds, and probably uncounsciously your brain will start to connect the sonics with the project.

3. be prepared for these scenarios

Make no mistake, these moments will happen. The best thing we can do is to prepare ourselves, to arm our mind with the necessary weapons to fight them. I usually try to build a schedule which contain so called “experimental times”. These experiments literally push me through the “hole”. It may sound strange as experimentation is already a part of our job, our daily life, but still, under pressure it is so easy to forget these simple necessities.

4. be curious as a child

Be curious! I know it sounds obvious, but really, seriously press yourself toward the unknown, be curious about that “unknown” and try to discover as many aspects of that “unknown” as you can. This is almost the same as try to experiment as much as possible. This way, again, your brain will start to connect the dots without you noticing it, and it is possible that you will be back on the track before you realize it.

5. An invaluable tip from Shaun Farley (see comments)

“if you have time, sometimes it’s more efficient to start over than try to fix something that isn’t working.”
Consider it, because this one can easily save you days of struggling and frustration. Not to mention the fact that it is almost impossible to fix a “sequence” which is on the wrong track for far too long. The restart can free you up, inspire, so this might be the ticket for success.
These are not de facto recipies for success, but likely to help me/you to get over the bad, and continue to create when you have to.
For closing thougts, I’m going to quote one of my favourite little advice list from Randy Thom, which helped me many times, so I keep these notes with me all the time:
“So, Uncle Randy’s simple rules for being more creative are:
1. Learn your craft thoroughly, reading everything you can about the traditions and conventions of the craft, as well as experiments on the modern cutting edge.
2. Begin each project with few assumptions about the methods you will use. Let the needs of the project, most of which  you won’t know until after you’ve gotten your feet wet, determine your approach.
3. Experiment as early and as often and as inexpensively as possible. Make lots of mistakes when mistakes are cheap.”
Randy Thom

3 Comments

  1. nice little post. here’s something to consider adding:

    if you have time, sometimes it’s more efficient to start over than try to fix something that isn’t working.

    • Very true! Thank you. That is another thing which is a serious trap.

  2. Marco

    Great post,

    I’m starting mixing a 90 minutes low budget movie, I’ll have 2 days to mix it.

    This article help me remember and refresh my goals.

    Thank you

    Regards

    Marco Bernardo

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