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PRODUCTION MENTORING FROM A DANCE MUSIC INDUSTRY VETERAN
Change Your Mentality to Stop Writers' Block
Top Ten Mind Flips to Get Tracks Finished

It's time to face up to the real truth of why you're not able to sit in front of your computer and create, because telling yourself you have writers' block is utter poppycock. You're not happy. It's time for me to deal you the antidote to your woes.

1. STOP MAKING MUSIC, IT'S NOT FOR YOU

If you're enjoying it, it doesn't matter if you're good or bad at it, whether you have the aptitude or not. People who enjoy something never have blocks, they find solutions. And the solutions are half the fun of it. If you're not enjoying it, you're not enjoying it. Simple. Find something else that you actually like doing, like ping pong, pastry-making or PornHub. You might think you love making music, but actually you like the idea of it more. Search your heart for the truth. And be happy in life.
2. CRACK ADDICTS NEVER PROCRASTINATE ABOUT SMOKING CRACK

Half the battle is finding something about making music that you crave. Maybe you haven't found the right way to approach it yet. Or the right workflow. Or the genre that makes you happy. That bit of music making that gets you high. One big breakthrough with me was when I started using a step-sequencer to write chords, which hooked me right back into the drug (music) after some cold turkey. My friend swears by heroin (his Push 2). It's just about finding that right crack-pipe sometimes! Spend time doing this, rather than soberly slogging on with the same boring routine.
3. QUIT YOUR PERFECTION ANXIETY

Admit to yourself that the music you're making at present is crap. Wear it as a badge: I make crap music. Because admitting where you are on your journey allows you to just continue on with that journey. So when something really does improve you'll appreciate your growth. Stop reaching for the stars and start reaching for a slightly better kick drum on your track.
4. EMBRACE YOUR SUB-STANDARD SKILLSET

The longer you delve into music production the more you realise there is a heck of a lot more to learn. All these new techniques and concepts pop up: Vintage EQs, Compression, Bussing, Saturation, Mastering, the list goes on and on. This can be crippling. You feel like an idiot. Instead of seeing this as a handicap, that stops you making tracks, see it as learning that you can look forward to when you're in a creative downtime (i.e. your purported Writers' Block, bitch).
5. TOY TIME, YOU SPOILT BRAT

I bet you don't know the complete ins and out of every single plugin you own. If you're not feeling it then, stop reading forums, going on YouTube, and arguing on Twitter. Go play with your toys. Back in my day, if I wanted a new toy I'd have to pay $2,000 and lug it home, find space for it, and then spend weeks learning how the fuck it worked. If you're all out of toys, because you know everything and have no money, go get some new free toys - there's no excuses.
6. SUCK IT UP, YOU'LL NEVER BE YOUR HEROES

I'm stating the bleeding obvious here, but most people get into music because they like music. And as such, probably want to make music like their favourite artist. And when they obviously fall massively short of their expectations, it can be a bodyblow. But you should see this as a golden opportunity to re-evaluate your sound and start on a path to finding your own voice. Your hero's voice is what made them stand out and yours will too (... possibly). But not if you don't try new directions.
7. STOP TRACK-TORTURING YOURSELF

You just want to get that one track finished, and then you can eventually move onto the next song ... eventually. But you're bored as sin of listening to the same three minutes over and over again. Don't, you dick. Leave it and start a new song. Job done. I used to be anal, wanting to finish a track before I started another. Until I realised I didn't have to do that. Now I bounce between five and ten tracks at a time so nothing becomes stale. A brand new track stops writers' block dead in its tracks.
8. STOP BUYING MAGIC BEANS

You see the plugin. You read the amazing review of the plugin. You buy and install the plugin. The plugin doesn't improve your track. You look for a new plugin. Sucker! If you were a painter and you were obsessed by brushes people would think you're a nutter. There is a reason why you never hear about Painters' Block or Sculptors' Block. You know why? They just get on with it. Don't obsess about your tools. Create! You have infinite blank canvases and blocks of clay.
9. BUILD YOUR OWN LIMITATIONS

Wherever you are in your learning journey, there is a tendency to run before you can walk. This can lead to having too much to think about in a track, too many effects, too many instruments, too many parts. When you open a file, your head spins and you can't face it. This can be a wall but it isn't writers' block and there is an easy fix. Some of the best songs are simple. Instead of your song being some huge burden, set yourself some limitations to work by. Five or six really strong parts. Write your rules down Dogme 95 style, and stick to your manifesto!
10. FIND YOUR TRACK'S RAISON D'ÊTRE

This is just a fancy French way of saying your reason for existing. Heavy I know. But if you can't find the reason for the track to exist then obviously it's harder to face it. What's the point? This stops a lot of musicians dead in their tracks without even knowing it. Find its reason to exist:

I'm making this track because it's cathartic for me.
I'm making it to impress someone I fancy.
I'm making it for the dancefloor.
I'm making it as a political statement.
I'm making it because when I do it's an oasis of beauty in my dead, loveless marriage.


It could be anything. It doesn't matter. As long as it's something! Your track's reason for being should be an unavoidable pull that keeps drawing you back even during the hard times. So work out what that pull is. And remind yourself what that is regularly. Write it on a piece of paper tacked to the wall. You're more likely to pull it off.
Funk D'Void is a DJ and producer veteran with over 30 years experience. He has released records on Soma Quality Recordings, Outpost Recordings, ON IT Recordings, and Lost & Found. And has DJed around the world over the last thirty years. He now lives in Barcelona, where he plays table tennis and is here to out the next generation of talent.

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