2 Creative Tips: Capture All, Delete Nothing

Illustration for how to generate ideas - glowing lightbulb and pencil

There are two maxims I live by in creating music and ensuring there is a constant flow of ideas in my creative process: Capture All and Delete Nothing.

A comprehensive explanation follows on my process:

Capture All

Capture all is simply this: get down every musical idea that you’re blessed with. Make it a habit to record an idea when it comes to mind. Because with the amount of data streaming across our brains every minute, that idea will fade and you’ll forget. Don’t waste it.

  • Record on Mobile. You probably already have a portable recording device with you at all times. Most modern cellphones have some form of “voice notes” or voice capture app which allows you to capture short recordings which you can later work on.
  • Notate it. If you know music notation, have a notebook handy. I use a portable Moleskine music notebook for quick notation. It’s been especially useful for long commutes.
  • Ready the Template.If an idea hits you while at your desktop, have your sequencer set up so that it opens to a new template that already holds all your favorite instruments and settings. That way, you can get a rough idea down quickly without having to pick your drum samples, your bass patch, your keyboard patch.

Delete Nothing

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Keep every idea, every sketch, every unfinished song. These may eventually be used to spark your creativity down the road. Don’t shoot down an idea before you’ve fleshed it out.

Why? Because you need to fill up the well while it rains in preparation for the coming drought. Make no mistake about it, you will get some sort of creative block down the road. And when inspiration runs dry, (or even when you want to take a break from a current project) you can always bring up one of these unfinished gems and work them on the side, thereby adding an element of play to your work. Having a well supply of sketches and rough, unfinished tunes allows you to keep working even when you’re at a loss for new ideas.

I found this video on youtube outlining 3 creativity tips from Signature Sound Studio. His ideas echo my own philosophy of capturing it all and having your templates / recording rig ready:

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