I’m currently working on writing my second metal album and I’m always keeping an eye out for ideas from other musicians at a higher level than me, on how I can improve my creativity, or a better way of saying it, looking for ideas on how I can change my routine to enable my creativity to work more freely.
Creativity is like a muscle, the more you use it, the easier it is to come up with ideas. And the right environment always helps.
So a few days ago, I was reading about Kanye West. Apparently he is back on Twitter, which is a big deal for some people.
Now, while I’m not a Kanye West fan, he does have a great work ethic, and created a good reputation for himself as a producer before moving into being rapper.
Anyway, I’m reading this article about Kanye and it quotes him as saying his most creative time of day is the two hours after he wakes up. When he wakes up, he doesn’t look at his phone / email / social media, he gets to work on writing music.
I’ve heard similar things from other people too. There is a marketing expert in the direct response field called Dan Kennedy. This guy has a great work ethic. He pumps out at least a book a year and gets an enormous amount done. This first thing he does each morning is to sit at his computer and start writing a new book.
Getting this new album finished is something I want to get done – because I have another one to write after that! So I thought I would take some inspiration from Kanye West and Dan Kennedy, and make my first big task of the day the creative work I want to get done.
So the last few days I’ve been waking up, having breakfast, then getting to work on writing music.
And it works.
I’m writing faster, easier and to a higher quality than I have before.
At first, not checking my phone was difficult – I didn’t realise that I was slightly addicted to checking up on social media on my phone. But that quickly passed. Now I quite enjoy the quiet hours I have to myself to work.
If I’m in another part of the house (say, the kitchen) and I have an idea, I get my phone and use the Voice Memo app to record myself just humming the idea, then once I made my coffee / cereal / whatever, go get my guitar and figure out the idea.
I usually get up around 6am / 7am, so I have breakfast, make a pot of coffee, work on my writing (writing music that is) for an hour or two, then work on other guitar related stuff for a couple more hours – practising, improvising, learning the lark ascending; usually in that order.
By around 11.30am I’ve usually had enough of playing guitar, so I have lunch and goto the gym.
This routine change has been effective, relaxing and rewarding. I’m going to keep doing it for a couple of months, but I think this is going to be a long term change.
When I was thinking about starting this, I chose to try it out for 2-3 months. I knew that my body would take a few weeks to get into the new routine, that nothing really works the first time you try it and that in order for things like this to be effective, they have to be a lifestyle change.
I know that this isn’t a short cut to writing an album in a week, but a life style change I can use to consistently be more productive with my writing (music and blog posts!).
Edit: After finding out about this concept, I’ve started noticing other musicians who like to on their creative projects first thing in the morning:
How can you change your routine to be more productive?