Your creative input vs creative output ratio may be causing problems when it comes to finishing songs.

If you are doing more input than output it means you aren’t implementing what you are learning, you
are just digesting information, and information rarely leads to transformation.

Implementation requires a lot more mental energy , which is why we prefer to consume.

So what is input & what is output?

In simple terms input is the information you take in.

This can be watching tutorials, speaking with a coach or even reading this post.

Output is what you are putting out into the world.

Output is the only way your voice gets heard. A life with input alone will leave you with your music still in you.

You don’t want to die having never shared your art with the world.

Dopamine: The brain’s reward system

There is nothing inherently wrong with input, but we need to understand our brain’s reward system.

See, our actions are largely motivated by a reward system, typically dopamine.

When we receive new information, we get a dopamine hit, the feel good drug our body creates.

All addictions are based on a reward system.

People don’t repeat bad habits because they are stupid, it’s because they keep getting rewarded
with dopamine.

The problem is, it’s very hard to get ourselves to delay the reward system when there are so many ways
to get a quick fix.

Social media is borderline evil in the way they reward you for doing almost nothing.

When you get a reward for doing next to nothing, where is your motivation for implementation &
creative output?

Most music producers get stuck in the input cycle.

More videos, more blogs, more forums, more social media, more plugins, more hardware etc…

This feeds the reward system & makes you feel like you accomplished something.

Sadly, this steals your drive to actually create.

The problem is that the reward system for creative output is a delayed reward.

Sometimes the reward for your output is less than you had expected or hoped for.

In order to stay motivated to create, we must starve the brain of it’s quick dopamine fixes & feed it
more meaningful but delayed rewards for accomplishing something of importance… Your art.

You reading this right now is input for you, but for me it is output & I can’t predict how you will respond to this.

There will certainly be a dopamine reward for the feeling or finishing this & then posting.

That is the output.

Me waiting around to see the reactions, likes & comments is input & that can become dangerously addictive.

If you’re not careful, you can easily get into the habit of waiting for reactions to your old art instead of investing your energy into creating more output… or new art.

Very likely, your current creative input to output ratio is 90/10.

This mean for every 100 minutes, you spend 90 of those minutes sourcing & consuming information & only
10 minutes actually working on your art.

Ideally you would like to have 80% output and 20% input.

Even the best of us don’t live up to this, but it’s a great practice if you want to be among the top 5% of
music producers.

Improving your creative ratio

Solving this problem is easy in theory but more difficult in practice.

It’s like trading in your ice cream for exercise.

The short term rewards are harder to get under control, but remember, short term gratification is short lived.

The delayed rewards tend to be much more fulfilling & can create an upward spiral in your creative output.

You must stay very aware of where you are putting your attention & energy.

You need to stop the habit of looking over your shoulder to see what everyone else is doing creatively &
build your own personal confidence and commitment to your own art.

Here are my suggestions if you want to look back on each month, year & decade, proud of what you
have accomplished.

1. Start your day with output first. You want to starve your brain of any input rewards until you have done the
output work.

If you do things the other way around, you will have no motivation left to do what needs to be done.

2. Write down what you intend to accomplish & then spend at least 20 minutes a day sitting down and creating.

Work on finishing what you start, especially when it gets difficult and you feel unmotivated.

You are retraining your brain to not stop just because you are facing resistance.

When you have finished a few songs, this will get easier & your brain will stop fighting you.

Remember, no one cares how much work went into an unfinished project.

3. Set a timer and clear all your distractions.

Turn off your phone & internet during this time.

Consider this your sacred time.

Distractions take you out of your flow & once out of flow, it takes a while to get back into it, if you even can get
back.

4. Do actual work. Don’t just listen to a loop for 20 minutes.

Make decisions quickly, even if it might be wrong.

Fear is the creativity killer.

It’s better to make mistakes and learn from them than be paralyzed by fear.

Also, mistakes can become some of the most inspiring parts of your music.

5. Only search for input if you are absolutely stuck.

You are smarter than you think. Allow yourself to explore creative options.

If you must seek outside assistance, define the issue you want to solve.

Set a timer for 10 minutes & look for your answer.

Don’t waste time. Once the alarm goes off, you get back to work.

6. Finish off by writing down what you want to finish in your next session.

This will prime your brain to solve problems for you unconsciously.

By becoming aware of the differences between input & output, you’ll much better be able to finish more of
your work & share it with the world….

…and the world needs your art more now than ever!

Happy music making,
Jason



If you are benefiting from these posts, you will absolutely love my 2 bestselling books:

The Mental Game of Music Production
The Process for Electronic Music Producers

To level up your Ableton Production Skills: Ableton Courses & Instruments

If you are looking for personal guidance with your music production or Ableton, you can set up a free chat with me to go over exactly what your best next steps are to create the best music of your life. If it seems like a good fit, we can move forward from there.  https://musicsoftwaretraining.com/private-coaching

Happy music making!
Jason

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