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Possible ways to overcome creative blocks or become motivated to get out there and record - Part 1

This is a bit of a different post than I usually do but I really think it applies to Field Recording and Sound Design.


This is the first in a series of blogs that I hope to do from time to time where I research how to stimulate creativity. And identify ways that I can help motivate myself to get out there and record more sounds or to become a better sound designer.

I found this video today that really had some good ideas on how to overcome creative blocks that happen from time to time. It is made by a visual artist but I really think it is applicable to people who record or design sounds for a living.

Here are some notes I took as I watched the video as to how I think this can work for both Sound Design and Field Recording:

Sometimes we need motivation to get started
  • Sometimes we just forget who we are and what we have achieved.

  • Sometimes we doubt ourselves and what we are capable of.

  • To combat these try seeking out simple ways to help improve your ability to get productive and be inspired.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves who we are and where we have been
  • Try reviewing your past work more often.

  • One of the benefits of maintaining an online demo is you can review your past work as a way to remember what you have achieved. It can be just as beneficial for you and your confidence as it is for getting a job.

  • Hopefully these reviews will get you to say to yourself “Oh yeah. I can design sounds” or "I did record some great sounds on that trip, I can totally see that being useful to other Sound Designers."

  • This might give you the confidence boost you need to get back in there.

Stimulate your sound design or field recording muscle memory. Try to reinforce a routine of experimenting with audio in ways that are fun and rewarding.

Sound Design:

  • Practice recreating sounds. Look at other’s work and try to figure out how they made that.

  • Make 10 - 15 second sound design sketches by grabbing short videos from YouTube and redoing some part of it’s sound.

  • Share it with others, get feedback, embrace that feedback (both positive and negative) and create a dialogue with them. Apply that feedback to the piece and send it back to them to see how they like it.

Field Recording:

  • Try setting a goal of recording a sound a day.

  • Clean it up and name it before that day is over.

  • Share it with others and get feedback, learn from that feedback and create a dialogue with them.

If you feel unmotivated try doing something you are good at first and then try something outside of your comfort zone. Boost your confidence before you dive in.
  • Try recreating a sound you have made in the past before starting work on something you have never done before.

  • Maybe open up a plug in you are comfortable with and process a sound to sound better with it. Then close that plug in and try one you have never used before.

  • It is similar to a work out at a gym. First you have to warm up your muscles before you start doing more strenuous things.

  • If you are interested in doing more Field Recording try starting small and working your way up. Use simple gear at the start and expand slowly to more complicated rigs. Start off recording something you are really familiar with, then go for something new.

Try doing something outside of your norm.
  • Use a different DAW to design or master that sound.

  • Use different plug ins that you have not used before.

  • Try a new or different approach. Design the sound the way you would usually do it and then try to make a wild card version of it using a completely different way of doing it.

  • Try experimenting with different genres of content or types of sounds to record.

  • If you only record in a Foley Room go on a hike with a small handheld recorder.

  • If you only record sound effects, try going out to record some ambiences.

Try doing something really outside your norm.
  • Spend some time doing something creative that has nothing to do with Audio.

  • Draw on a piece of paper

  • Paint

  • Sculpt

  • Make a video (yes it has sound but it still can work for this).

Find ways to break yourself out of your funk by placing yourself in a situation where you need to just make something. Maybe Join a community driven project.
  • Compete in Sound design challenges

  • Join a Field recording crowdsource/share (Like the one on the Field Recording Slack or Reddit)

Take time to tidy your environment or change you location. Freshen things up a bit.
  • A deep breathe of fresh air can bring you a new perspective and open up your mind for creative thoughts. .

  • Having the right light and atmosphere can stimulate creative thoughts and ideas.

Dedicate time to trying new tools (plug-ins or DAWs) and read articles or watch videos that other sound designers have made.
  • Never stop learning or pushing yourself to try new things.

Take care of yourself.
  • Meditate to relieve pressure and stress.

  • Clear your mind of negative or self deprecating thoughts.

  • Remind yourself why you want to do this and why it is important to you.

  • Exercise/eat right when you can. Having an outlet for stress can open up the rest of your day to welcome creative thoughts.

If something is not working try scaling it back a bit into a more manageable and achievable goal. Start small and then expand.
  • Whenever I need to record a set of sounds I always grab a small handheld recorder first and record some quick samples (in my apartment or Foley room) so I can hear how things sound right away. Then when I am happy with what I have collected I set up and do a larger recording session to better capture those sounds.

  • Record something quick then go back and get it better.

  • I do the same with my sound design. I lay down simple sounds that get me 60% there, cover everything I need to and then go back and revisit the sounds the next day to expand upon what I already laid down. And I do this over and over again until I get to the right sound and direction.

  • Often the first thing I do is the wrong approach, but just getting something going and feeling good is a great start to building my confidence that I will get to the right sound eventually.

Don’t be afraid to fail.
  • "You can never let your desire for perfection prevent you from finishing something that's good. Because to finish something even imperfectly is to learn from it and then you can move on and get closer to perfection." - Casey Neistat

  • I always admire you tubers and content creators like Casey Neistat, especially during his phase of producing a Video for YouTube a day. Seeing how skill can develop overtime with practice and repetition was truly inspiring.

  • Here is a video where he talks about Productivity vs Perfection:

Just so I can make sure I make this post about Field Recording here is a set of sounds I recorded for the upcoming Field Recording Slack Crowdsource Library "Gore"

As I mentioned earlier in this post I start recording small and build up to a bigger session. This is my attempt at experimenting with some veggie violence in my apartment. I think the verb kinda adds to the sounds I captured. :)


If you are interested in taking part in the Crowdsource Library for Gore and joining the Field Recording Slack contact me.


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