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Topic: Okay, what's wrong with me?

  1. #1

    Okay, what's wrong with me?

    I'm having such trouble composing. Like, I probably haven't composed anything that I would consider "good" for about a month, maybe more if I'm being really picky. This past few days I've been trying to compose, but I haven't gotten anything good yet. I can't figure out what the problem is, and I'm getting really sad and annoyed. It's like I have a Writer's Block curse on me. Can anyone possibly maybe please possibly find some way to help me?

  2. #2

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    I haven't composed anything I consider to be good in about 35 years. But the pleasure I get whilst doing it is enough to keep me going. Then I throw it away and hope the next stuff is better.

  3. #3

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    Nothing's wrong at all.

    I haven't composed in over a month either, partly due to life busy-ness, but also just due to... uh... not being able to. For me, that's not really uncommon... my musical muse just takes a vacation every now and then and I just have to wait for its return, even if its in the middle of a piece, and then when it returns I'll have a burst of creativity and be productive for a week, then it will go on vacation again.

    You could wait it out and do something else which interests you until your muse returns. If writing music is part of your job and you have to force the creativity, then that's what you have to do, and you'd probably get better at it with practice, keeping in mind that even if you're displeased with something you wrote, other listeners might hear it differently. Maybe you'll hear it differently too after a couple of days.

    Personally, I've never gotten very good at forcing the creativity, so when my musical muse is on vacation, I just wait and do something else instead... though "forcing the creativity" is sometimes recommended just to keep that part of the brain active (as in any book which recommends that you compose for at least a certain amount of time everyday).

    So, nothing wrong at all, just the plight of the creative man... I wouldn't call it Writer's Block either... struggling to write is part of writing!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  4. #4

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?


    I wish that I could help you but I'm in the same boat - except that it's been almost a year for me. I have something that I'm working on that might be cool, but don't know yet.

    I also feel the same way that Pingu does, that I rarely feel that my pieces are "good" and keep hoping that the next one will be better.

    I guess the only advice that I have is to not try to force it, and see what happens.

    Good Luck!!
    Take Care,

  5. #5

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    Cransworth -

    You don't say whether you are writing prolifically and not liking it, or if you are just managing a few measures per composing session.

    If it's the latter, I suspect your phrase "...if I'm being really picky." may be your problem. You need to give yourself a break so that you can finish things.

    I'm reminded of an anecdote (I think I posted this before) from the book "Art & Fear". A pottery class was divided up into two groups. One group was told to make a "perfect pot". The other group was told to make as many pots as they could, quality didn't matter. When they were done, they judged the pots. Guess who made the better pot? Yup, the second group.

    You need the experience of finishing pieces to get the big picture and know what you're doing. If you're too self-critical, you are robbing yourself of this important knowledge.

    I'm also reminded of a quote by Faure: "Don't try to be a genius in every measure."

    Otherwise, I'd suggest 'switching gears' when you're stuck. If you're having trouble with a melody, work on the harmony. Problems with a fast section? Work on a slow section. You can even just leave the part you're stuck on blank, continue the piece, and go back to it later.

    So that this doesn't get too long, what I'm saying is to take the pressure off yourself and do something else that is productive. It doesn't matter what that is. Write a completely different piece in a different style, if that's what it takes to get you writing again. The next time your inner critic interrupts you, tell him you're busy and you'll get back to him later.

    - k
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

  6. #6

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    What I do is to take some time away from it completely. In my case it's motorcycing (Suzuki GSX1400).

    I find concentrating on something completely different help the creative process in that it is not forced and is allowed to take it's own course.

  7. #7

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    This is such a common thing for writers and musicians alike, even some of the great composers at times. Don't know if this will help, but one of the things I do is let myself experience something moving and inspiring--a recording I love, a good movie, a dance performance, a concert,--and then just sit down at an instrument and improvise to express how I feel, with no thought of "composing." Just being myself, having fun, letting myself go. It's when there's no self-pressure or self-consciousness that it starts to flow again.

    As Sean, Klassical, and Paul have suggested, just taking a break from the pressure can be beneficial (even if you are under pressure in the outer world) and from too much perfectionism. I've got that myself, big time, and it's caused more problems than it's worth!

    Also the people you do or don't surround yourself with can make a huge difference. They can inspire or inhibit you, even when you're not doing music.
    Just some thoughts....


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    I listen to quite a bit of music when driving. Maybe a combination of instruments or a cool thing that happens in song (even if just for a second) usually seems to trigger ideas for me.

    I've quit trying to analyze my pieces and just let the 'accidents' happen. Since I started doing this, my output has multiplied by 10!


  9. #9

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    Suggestions that work on yours truly

    1. Go out, forget about composing, enjoy yourself as much as you can; the resulting rush of endorphines will trigger the elusive composing machine. Worrying about writer's block will only make it worse.

    2. Compose using an alternative method - if you're usually composing at a keyboard, go as far from keyboards as possible, preferably for a few days, and write the song structure on paper, for example.

    3. (At the risk of being flamed): Listen to a really bad composer who made it big and say: "I'm demanding too much from myself", relax and write a song that's not perfect. (I won't name the composer ... let's just say his name begins with the same letter as his surname ends ... but listening to his, um, masterpieces helped me kill the paralysing urge for perfection)

    Cheers Matt

  10. #10

    Re: Okay, what's wrong with me?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aziraphal
    (I won't name the composer ... let's just say his name begins with the same letter as his surname ends ... but listening to his, um, masterpieces helped me kill the paralysing urge for perfection)
    OK, now I'm intrigued...

    I can think of a lot of truly awful composers who've made it huge. In fact if we're talking contemporary then being completely without talent seems the fastest route to being a billionaire. But I can't think of one whose name starts and ends with the same letter. ???

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