What has lit the "spark" for you when you have been flat for a while?

Been a while since I’ve posted but that is more for good reasons than anything. In the last few years, I posted quite sporadically, mainly because I was pretty flat with making music and most of my projects were stalled or stuck for one reason or another. I managed to put out my GIGGONS project EP last year after a lot of work and I’m happy enough with it, but probably not as much as I should given the vision and time it took to make it.
This year I released my Alien Lard project EP which came together in about 1/5 of the time and I am far more happy with that.

But interestingly, it was another project that I fell into that sparked up a flame for making music that I have not had in some time (at least not as intensely). A mate of mine wrote a musical for schools in late 2020 and asked me to produce the music. It was an absolute blast and I had a great deal of freedom with the tracks.
His wife, who is an amazing singer/songwriter, wrote several of the tracks and loved what I did with the songs and suggested we work together on our own project.

We’ve just about finished two songs and I have had a blast - rediscovering the passion for “wanting” to go to the studio and do that “little bit more” which turns into hours that feels like minutes and is followed by the curse of that 30 second section looping in your head all night while you try to sleep.

Because of this, I am now about half way through the next Alien Lard Project and have a couple more things moving along now too.

Has anyone else had something that has happened to reignite the flame? Or do you have a thing you do or watch to give you a longer term boost in motivation?
I believe one factor is that our success is breeding success. If she wasn’t happy with what I had been doing to her songs, it may be a different story, but as we stand at the moment, she trusts my vision, I love her songs and things are clicking well. I’ll post a few for bashing once final vocals are completed.


Good to hear, Dan!

I’m still plugging away on my stuff - I’ve got some really cool stuff in the works (even if I say so myself! :laughing:)

I don’t force it. If I’m not feeling it, or I’m too busy, I just leave it and concentrate on other things. Sometimes, if I’m a bit sick of doing my own music, I’ll do a mix for someone else, just to keep my “ears” in shape.

Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!


Lately I’ve been finding myself not wanting to go down to my dungeon to record. I still find myself coming up with ideas for guitar riffs, licks and songs but I kind of cringe at the thought of firing up the whole recording studio (even though it’s a small setup) and starting the process of building a complete, well-arranged song with all the frills that might come with it. I always enjoy the initial spark of the song making process but the recording, mixing and aspects of the full finished production are almost always long and involved, so I need to feel that passion and drive to be up for the task and sometimes that passion can wain during a long and involved production.

I’m sure I listen to my songs hundreds of times before I consider them to be completed. I’ve never heard a song that doesn’t get old if heard over and over. One of the big disadvantages to creating and recording/ mixing your own music is that you end up getting to the point where you can’t see the forest through the trees, you become less able to view the music as objectively the more you hear it, particularly if your project takes a long time to complete. Things get even hairier when you have a bunch of songs under production/ construction at the same time. Having a small group of people to work with would probably release some of the burden that comes with recording, but then I’d probably not agree with some or many of the creative and technical choices that others have in regards to writing, arrangements, etc. Working alone allows you to always create what you like, without compromise. I find that the more analytical and critical I’ve become with my recordings and writing, the more difficult the process has become. Years ago, I’d just slap songs together and it was much more fun because I wasn’t as concerned with precision and some semblance of perfection. I find if I tell myself that I’m just going to demo a song, it’s easier to get started with the recording process because that way I’m not too worried about hitting one out of the park. If I get to first base, that’s good enough for a demo, and demos are typically quick and painless. Another thing that can help is giving myself a time limit to how much time I’ll allow myself to work on a song, or the drums, or the guitar, or the singing, etc. I doubt I’ve ever adhered to my own time limit though. I usually go way over the amount of time that I had planned to spend on my music, especially when I like the song.

As far as song writing goes, I find it easy to keep the flame burning. There’s really no limit to the ideas people can come up with for songs. There’s an infinitesimal amount of songs, riffs, licks, lyrics out here in the universe just waiting to be captured. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from writing and recording just for the sake of giving your mind a rest. Gotta give your hard drive and recording gear a breather too! :smile:
Some time away from music can reawaken your creativity, ironically. Nature and relaxation can help too.

As you mentioned, Dan, participating in other projects can light that spark.Doing something fresh and new will usually reawaken your creative drive. I like to write in different musical genres, frequently. I find that alone, is enough to keep me fired up.


For me, the spark always comes from noodling on the guitar and finding some little melody or chord progression that makes me want to work on expanding on it. The process can take a long time, so I have ideas tucked away for years that I eventually try to flesh out when I realize what the idea is all about. You always know when it’s time to leave it alone or finish it. I often stumble upon the theme and a start on the lyrics out of nowhere, and try to figure out which song it relates to. The lack of a deadline is one of the main things that holds me back. I can start a lot of songs, but finishing them is a different story. I kind of like the idea of forcing yourself to complete what you are working on rather than setting it aside until you finally get everything you think you need to move on. Remember the days when songwriters had to come up with a bunch of songs every day?


Yes, a deadline can create and maintain motivation. That’s a trick I try to use on myself sometimes but I often fail to enforce it because I don’t have to be accountable to other people. Sometimes I’ll schedule my recording hours as if it’s a job, so that I can develop discipline and maintain a steady workman-like productivity. Time tends to slip away if you just wait for the inspiration to come to you to do the work or create the music. Waiting for inspiration is not the best way to approach art and creation. Taking action will open the doors to creativity. It can be coaxed out of us.

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I have come to the realization that I need to break things up into distinct phases, so that I can work on the same thing with different sides of my brain. The alternative is killing creativity before it takes hold, by getting stuck in over-analysis, self-criticism, getting bogged down in details, etc.

So now I have created a workflow for myself that is broken up into separate steps. It’s more or less modeled after how bands did things in the heyday of the big recording studios.

Start with songwriting / demo recording. No bad ideas. No attachment to outcome. I was inspired by what Brandon from Recording Review said years ago about setting out to make a bad song on purpose. The point is to not take yourself too seriously, to be free and easy, and have fun, and keep things light. Who cares if it sounds bad? What happens if I do this? What if I start writing a song in a genre that I don’t even like, knowing that I’m just going to throw it away. Maybe I’ll learn something. Commit to not saving or preserving any of the recorded tracks. I mean, sure, save them as demos. But commit to not incorporating any actual recordings from this phase into whatever any “final product” might or might not turn out to be. Just go create, make a mess, and have fun. In my opinion, the spark lives here.

Most of these little demos will be immature and unpolished. But they don’t take very long. If it sucks, just do another one. You’re working out the bad ideas, and getting them out of the way. Eventually you do all the cliches, but start getting bored with them, and start experimenting.

Don’t judge the work. Don’t analyze whether it’s good or bad. Come back a couple weeks later and listen to it. It’s totally not finished. It’s totally not ready. That’s OK. Is there the gem of an idea in any of them? Maybe start redoing one that happened to show promise. This is where it starts progressing from “no bad ideas” to “maybe this clay can be sculpted into something, but then again maybe not, but let’s just see what happens”.

If something continues to show promise, and the arrangement gets all fleshed out, only then is it ready for the tracking phase. This is a complete re-recording of the finished demo. But now, you have a complete roadmap of all the parts. You just have to play them. Now is the time to obsess over mic placement, the actual performances, timing, and all of the other stuff. This, now, is when everything has to be perfect, or at least very good.

After tracking is complete, mixing begins. By the end of tracking, all of the tracks should be in good shape, with some creative decisions already made (summing multiple guitar cab mics into one track, that sort of thing). The mixing phase is just all about mixing, and nothing else. This is the time to play with plugins and hardware and reverb and all of that.

That’s the theory anyway. I see this as a multi-year ongoing process for myself. But this realization that you had to only use one side of your brain at a time, so to speak, was itself a bit of a spark for me. Because I realized that I was capable of doing all of these things. But I could never do them all simultaneously.

I spent too many years trying to do everything at once, and not getting very far with anything. Maybe this post will help someone, or create a spark of an idea for someone else. This is what I’ve found works for me. But aside from all the particular details, the main idea here is to nurture your creativity completely separately from the analysis phase where you criticize the work.


This! This is EXACTLY how I felt the last few years. Except I’d say that the first and last 10% of working on a song are the hardest for me. If I don’t make progress and have some sort of composition success quickly, I fizzle fast. And I find the last few tweaks in a mix a pain because I know I am sooo close to being done, but I am also likely to be sooo used to the rough mix I’ve been hearing as I track that I find it hard to change some elements even if for the better.

So glad there’s someone else who struggles with walking out to a room and turning on a computer to make music, even if it still is a passion!


I’ve been easing my way out of recording and into software development for some time now.

What would it take for me to go back? A very financially lucrative contract or business deal.

For a while I was watching job listing websites for full time audio engineers.


Exactly. A recording contract combined with a deadline has been an admirable ‘spark’ for me in the past.

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The flame has flickered a few times but has never gone out YET. It is easy to make songs if you don’t have any expectations. The process is everything. An off thought, a melody line, a rough acoustic strum and off we go. Revisit often…finish…start again…die…