Are you a creative consumer or producer?

Let’s face it. We’ve all become information junkies. We constantly feed our faces with new tricks and new toys. We are constantly looking for the next thing. The new synth, that new effect, the new, well… anything.

Here’s the problem folks, it’s slowing you down from the real goal. If you aren’t finishing songs, soundtracks or projects, now you have your culprit.

In an attempt to become more productive you read blogs, watch videos and buy whatever seems to give you more power than you already have. The problem is that the appetite is never quenched. I’m of course referring to myself as well. I’ll use information gathering as an excuse to not create and then I’ll convince myself that without this new tool I can’t create. You end up in a constant cycle of upgrading instead of finding a consistant workflow.

Have you become an addicted consumer instead of a creative producer?

Now I am all about new technology, no doubt about it. I am also all about finding new information that I can put to use, but that is where the flaw is. We watch the videos, we read the blogs, we download the new plugin but we are pulling in more information than we can possibly put to use?

A change in thinking

If this behavior is going to stop we need to accept that too much information works against you. It gives you too many choices. It also takes away your sense of discovery when you are in a creative mode. By the time you have a situation that would benefit from a certain technique, you may already be bored by it or paranoid that this trick isn’t modern enough or is overused.

I think this behavior happens with a lot of musicians (something I’ve already stated that I am not). The reason for this is that many musicians learn how to play before they just start playing. They learn all the rules and they learn all the chords. By the time they actually start making music, they are trying to reach outside their current level of skill because they are bored to tears of all the things they have already learned. They restrict themselves from many of the basics in search of that magic, but rarely find it.

When I started playing guitar I tried learning from a chord book but tossed it after only a few days. I had learned a few basic bar chords and I was off and running. I had confidence in simplicity and wasn’t afraid to do something just because it’s easy. Luckily for me, I was drawn to bands that used simplicity to their favor. If I had something in my head that I couldn’t play, then and only then would I hunt for a new skill, technique or expand my chord knowledge. This gave me the ability to feel the magic of every new discovery and tool. I didn’t feel forced to grow any more than my natural pace. I rarely heard a song and had to rush home to learn how it was played. I was just doing my own thing and developing my own sound.

Now I find myself getting into the trap of information gathering. I’m constantly working on skills that I’ll never put to use. another downside is that I rarely have the exciting feeling of discovery when I finally use a new trick. Being a blogger and a producer (and a DJ), it’s easy for me to get caught up with what is new, but I feel it would be more beneficial to myself and my readers if I put to use each new thing I learn or each new tool I access before hunting for the next thing. I also think it’s going to be important to wait for a problem before I go hunting for a solution.

Ask yourself, is this a tool I am going to use today? Does the project I am currently working on require this tool or information to complete it? Does filling my head with this new information make me more productive now or less productive? What information and tools do you have right now that you still haven’t put to use? Might it be more beneficial to implement some of those one at a time? Maybe you would benefit by removing several tools to open up some space to new ones.

Just because a tool is great for someone else and has them super excited doesn’t mean it’s going to work that way for you. Realize your addiction might be to someone’s excitement and  not necessarily the information being presented. Another trap is trying to fit this new tool or idea into your work. This can be frustrating and slow you down because in your head you may be thinking “this is supposed to be amazing, what am I doing wrong”?, when the real issue is that it’s not a match for your way of creating.

A challenge

Make a deal with yourself. If you spend 30 minutes learning a new trick, you’ve got to spend at least 30 minutes putting it to use. If the skill requires more time, decide whether you will dump the new trick or take the time to perfect it. Don’t make the mistake of putting this on the backburner while hunting for new information or tools.

I hope this brings you closer to a very productive 2010.

To your continued joy and productivity in your creative works!

happy music making,

Jason

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