5 Signs Of Creative Stagnation To Watch Out For In Music

There comes a point in every serious musician’s career when creativity, fun, and inspiration are hard to come by. The causes of creative stagnation are different for each of us, but all music-makers experience it eventually. Some musicians are able to spot a lack of ambition or inspiration in their creative lives.


Others slowly sink into ruts without realizing it. If you can easily spot one of these red flags in your music career, it’s likely you’re creatively stuck and need a change.

Writing the same songs over and over again

If you can’t help hitting repeat when it comes to your creative process, stagnation is probably to blame. Some of us get into the habit of writing the same music for months or even years because it feels predictable and safe to do so. But as we all know, predictability and safety aren’t helpful when it comes to making meaningful music. Making the conscious effort to let curiosity and risk shape your creative process will help you if you’re unable to write something truly new or different.

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Not invested in getting better, feeling unchallenged

One hopeful, beautiful thing about making music is that we are always capable of writing a better song. It’s a challenge that fuels my work and motivates me to write whether I’m feeling creatively inspired or musically bored. If you’re constantly feeling unchallenged and lack the desire to get better, you’re at a serious point of creative stagnation and need to make big changes to stay in the game. Make music long enough, and you’re bound to experience heartbreak and disappointment. But instead of letting this fact beat you down, focus on what moves you in the process of making music. Rather than settling for OK, strive to create music that got you interested in doing this in the first place.

Feeling disconnected from joy and curiosity

Without a strong emotional pull towards creating and performing, musicians will find it hard to make progress in their careers. To put it a simpler way, if you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. Writing, playing shows, releasing music, and touring should all be fun, emotionally rewarding activities in your career. Yes, there’s a massive amount of work that goes into maintaining a music career. But if there’s nothing fun or instantly gratifying about it, you’ll need to change things around to get back to the point where you love what you do again.

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Viewing music-making as an obligation and not as something rewarding and energizing

Most non-musicians would be shocked to learn how much tedious administrative work goes into sustaining a music career and that the vast majority of un established and small artists take on duties like booking shows, planning tours, and promoting music themselves. It’s natural to view these things as chores but if the thought of writing songs or playing shows fills you with obligatory dread, something big needs to be addressed in your music career. Whether the project you’re playing in just doesn’t do it for you anymore or you need to take a break from making music and performing your own work, serious changes need to happen if you want to keep making music.

Not having access to new opportunities after years of work

Have you been hard at work for years and are faced with the same opportunities and limitations you found when you first started? There’s a good chance creative stagnation is to blame. Music is a brutal industry to compete in. Yet, if your music is solid and you’re working hard, you should access to more shows and fans over time. A lack of music opportunities could be because you’re creatively stuck and unable to make work that resonates with people. This can be a hard pill to swallow. However, committing to dropping everything in your music career to focus on creating the best work you can may help.

Feeling creatively stagnant isn’t something you should feel bad about. We’ve all been there before as musicians, and those who haven’t will at some point. Rather than accepting defeat and waiting for inspiration, you can diagnose the problem and work towards a solution.


To Gain A New Creative Perspective In Music

Despite our best efforts, creative stagnation and predictability are things we all experience as songwriters at some point in our careers. Working hard and pushing through works for some artists, but others need to bring real change into their processes in order to move forward. creative

Here are four ways to get a new musical perspective if you’re stuck and in search of a little creative inspiration:

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Take a trip to focus on music

If you’re in dire need of a new musical perspective, consider skipping your vacation and taking a trip focused on making music instead. Where and how we make music are factors that can siphon away our creative energy and suppress new ideas. Or, it can do just the opposite. Getting away for a week, month, or even longer can help us get back to our creative roots by giving us the space and freedom to explore new ideas. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, not every musician can afford to do this. But for those who can, music-centered trips are well worth the investment.

Learn a new instrument

Remember back when you first learned how to sing, play the guitar, or drum? That early sense of frustration and limitless possibility might be exactly what you need to find a new musical perspective. Being able to easily play an instrument often means playing through the same tired ideas over and over again, but we don’t have that option when it comes to learning a new instrument. Toying around and picking up the basics on an unfamiliar instrument can expose us to new ideas and perspectives.

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Bring in new collaborators

Working with a new collaborator might be uncomfortable for some musicians, but it’s something that can add new life and meaning to your process. You or your band have developed a certain way of working if you’ve been making music for a long time, but a new person blows up that dynamic in a powerful way. Ideas you never would’ve thought of on your own can materialize out of nowhere simply by adding a new person into the mix.

Blow up your process

The way you do things in songwriting might feel comfortable, but comfort is often a bad thing when it comes to creativity. Changing your process in a significant way can shake up your songwriting world, whether it’s starting the process by singing without music or writing drum parts last if they’re what you typically do first. New instruments, experimenting with musical extremes like tempo and dissonance, or writing as minimally as possible are all good things to explore here, but the important thing to focus on is creating in ways that are exciting and unfamiliar.

Each of these tips are different, but all are focused on embracing newness, risk, and fun in your process. When the same old methods keep resulting in predictable results, it’s time to explore working in ways that are different to jumpstart our creativity in music.


Why Overthinking Hurts Your Music And What To Do

Hurts Expectation and pressure can be good for you as a musician, whether you’re performing on stage in front of a huge crowd or paying by the hour to record new music in a studio. Without a dog in the fight, what you’re doing as a musician is a carefree hobby.


But, like so many other aspects of a healthy music career, a balance has to be found between striving to perform well and living up to what’s expected of us and not overthinking and questioning everything we do. When we let doubt, insecurity, and fear guide us in music, we stifle our best ideas.

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Fear is an enemy of creative expression

When you set out to create new music, what’s on your mind? Are you genuinely curious about what’s possible in music? Are you bogged down with a desire to make music that’s conventionally successful? Overthinking the songwriting process is really just a symptom of fear. You might hold a belief that you aren’t cut out for music, or that everything you create isn’t good enough.

Other musicians write with the idea that they’re perpetually one step away from a melody, beat, or chord progression that can launch their careers and validate their efforts. Rather than addressing our insecurities head-on, many of us work by questioning each and every aspect of our creative processes. Pressure can be good for performing live. However, having doubt and fixating on mistakes or shortcomings can ruin shows by building a wall between musicians and audiences.

Constant overthinking is a terrible way to work because fear and creativity don’t go well together. You’re likely to come up with your best ideas when you create in a way that embraces curiosity and risk. Just know that occasional failure is an inevitable part of these things. We often overthink writing music out of the fear of not living up to our potential. However, we then end up writing safe, bland, and forgettable music that doesn’t reflect our true talents and creative energy. But while not addressing the root causes of overthinking during the songwriting process often makes for bad music, the greater danger here is becoming discouraged and bailing on your music interests altogether.

If you let your doubts lead you, you’ll end up going places you don’t want to. Managing your fears and insecurities during the creative process is crucial for musicians who want to make creative expression a permanent fixture in their lives.

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How overthinking damages the non-creative aspects of a music career

Actions like negatively obsessing over your streaming stats and social media follows is a misuse of focus. The same goes for artists who constantly feel like other bands have unfair access to opportunities that they don’t. Yes, most of us find motivation in connecting with large audiences while succeeding locally and beyond.

However, similar to how fear thwarts creative expression, insecurity damages our ability to advocate for our music and find opportunities. For example, if you directly connect your self worth as an artist to the number of streams, listeners, and social media followers you get, you’re probably never going to be fulfilled as a creative, and that’s a recipe for quitting. Similarly, if you’re more obsessed with how comparable bands are doing than you are in creating great work and sharing it, how can you expect to get where you want to go?