Getting Around A Total Lack Of Inspiration

I’m having a very hard time with music lately. I can’t seem to get inspired or create, and I always think the end result sounds too amateur and low quality. My problem is composition.

I can’t compose. Everything I write seems to drag on and on with little or no point or resolution.

How do you get past “writers block”? And more importantly, is there a time when every musician decides to either hang it up and give up, or make the effort to make something great?

I’m extremely frustrated with this whole thing. I want to make music more than anything else, but it’s just not coming together for me.

EDIT - Sorry. This may be the wrong area for this post. :(

Well worth doing a search through these forums on previous threads with this exact theme. There are numerous suggestions, some of which may be applicable to you.

I challenge you to change the following “I can’t compose.” into:

“We can compose.”

Yeah, I like the ideas of crytek. Best inspiration is always something that goes on around you. I get best inspiration from moments around me. For example:

Few months ago, I went camping with friends. We were staying in some small swamp cabin for some time, and then decided to trip around. Later in the evening we were looking for a place to stay, and couldn’t really come up with anything, in the late evening we found a nice place near some lake, but it was really dark outside and we were all tired. We tried to start a fire but then it started raining, and it was really hard to find any firewood in the dark. So we just went into the tents and tried to get some sleep.

The night was pretty restless, heavy rain was dripping on the tent and strange forest sounds were surrounding us. It felt a bit scary, as we really had no idea where we were, and what was going around us, as we really didn’t have any time to look around. But in a strange way it was overly romantic aswell.

Some sort of sound started to form in my head, just some mild reverby string lead, ambiance, mixed together with the sounds of rain falling on the nylon of the tent and some trippy sounds from my dreams which basically consisted of memories from the evening, echoing voices, the sound of tent zipper.

At some moment sun came out from clouds. I was still half asleep at that moment, and the light and the stop of rain mixed with my dreams. I saw people who I was sharing the tent with standing on the tent door. The beams of sun shining in from between them. Bright light. And this sharper and stronger synth lead sound… But it was all just a dream, soon the sun dissapeared and rain came back and I realized that people in my tent were all asleep.

When waking up in the morning and going outside the tent I realized everything was wet outside and rain still kept falling. Packing the tent was intimidating as it was all covered in heavy water. But at the same time, the memories from my restless dreams were still in my head and carried with me until even now.

This is something really inspirational. :)

Also, when I am running out of inspiration I make small snippets. I probably have thousands of small song snippets lying around, which I never finish, but occasionally reuse in other songs and live perfomances. So nothing is lost and everything is gained. ;)


Thanks for the input. It’s always helpful to hear the ideas of others.

I think I may have discovered part of my “problem”. I try to approach music very mathematically as of late, and I’m certain it’s screwing me up.

We? Maybe I’m being too literal, but are you suggesting I collaborate with someone?

Sometimes I go hunting for sounds. Hearing sudden snippets of sound, among the throng, noises, hum etc. In the market place, shopping mall, empty street - just anywhere!

Recently I was walking down an empty lane with my kid, and then I heard a car door open nearby - only to close shut again, half a second later. But through that second a short bit of music - obviously playing in the car - got through to me. This bit continued to circle around in my head - completely torn apart from whatever the original song was - and grew into something else.
As I was coming up the stairs I was all excited about a new tune to write!

Just open up and the good stuff will come by itself.
It’s what people really mean when they say ‘meditation’ (not just sitting around with fingers crossed and eyes dramatically closed :D ).

three letters :



i find i run into this problem quite often. i’ve got this horrible addiction to self-improvement. i always have to be getting better. the result of this has been hours and hours and hours of studying complex things like max/msp, reaktor, and general heavy synthesis, blah blah blah. i am always trying to be better than i really am, like…just one step past my own capability, if that make sense. i find every once in a while i sit down and just dick around one evening in renoise or whatever, not taking it seriously. those are the pieces that sound the best to me. it’s strange, it’s like…when you stop thinking about it, it happens for you. once you remove all the stress from your life, it works out.

my life still consists of 2 main paths musically, those months when i do nothing but improve myself (in which my music sucks), and those months when i sit back and just evaluate where i am, and just create (in which my music sounds much better).

in other words, stop worrying about being “as good as so and so”. that is the worst thing you can do. stop worrying about inadequacy, and something will probably work out. remember that music should be fun. you can have fun making a great song, and you can also have fun making a horrible song, IF you can get past your own personal criticism (which is good and bad at times).


I’d recommend getting away from screens/monitors.

It’s amazing how much bandwidth your brain dedicates to visual processing.

There’s an interesting thing in theatre set design, where it’s almost always a complete disaster if you include a TV set as a prop… Guarantee, even when you’re only playing static or looped news footage, your whole audience will zone out on the screen, no matter what’s happening on the rest of the stage…

The brain is simply attracted to movement and light, so you put a screen even on a busy stage, projecting moving light, and you can’t not look at it - you also can’t follow what’s going on on stage.

I’d bet any amount of money, you put a musician in an MRI scanner with a computer monitor on, and there’ll be much less activity in the auditory cortex than if it’s off.

I think the key to making music with a sense of purpose and direction is really hearing what you’re doing; connecting with it.

Almost every computer/electronic musician I’ve ever met will agree that you sit down with a piano or a guitar or a modular synth, and exploring musical ideas feels much less constrained and much more absorbing.

I personally find writing and working 100% in front of a screen requires a much more compartmentalized approach - which obviously does work for some people… The way to go then is just to break down what you want to do into a series of riffs/patterns/arrangements, and slot your own in… A lot of productive people work that way; personally, it doesn’t suit me.

In that case, here’s what I’m capable of.

If anyone wants to trade files and bounce ideas across the internets, send me a message.

This is good advice. I was actually talking with my girlfriend about this exact idea over dinner a while ago. I spend hours in front of Reaktor and Renoise, trying to be as good as or better than ___________ and always better than I was the last time I sat in front of the programs.

It’s exhausting…

I know exactly how you feel.

I have the same problem sometimes, the only thing you can do is taking a break and continue when youre feeling “fresh” again.

I dont have problems with “composing” it, but i always have this nasty habit to make it sound as “professional” as possible. Its like 10% composing and 90% mastering (tweaking on knobs sliders etc), and its so exhausting at times that you cant hear the difference anymore, mostly after a big break i can continue my work. Listening 200+ times to the same pattern :wacko:

I havent touched renoise for like more then 6 months tbh, until a few weeks ago i suddenly had inspiration again, because i figured out how the maximizer worked and it sounded so much better that it gave me more “editing / tracking” power :rolleyes:

my only advice i can give is like “make music when youre in the mood for it and not feeling tired, and when youre having inspiration or ideas”. Forcing yourself wont help at all.

I find myself stuck in music too sometimes.
My number one problem is a sound I can’t make. I have loads of hardware synths but they can’t produce every sound I want so if I’m inspired to do something and I can’t design the proper sound I’m going nuts. I’ll be turning knobs for hours and don’t record a thing.

The best solution for me is buying new music, it usually gives me fresh ideas to work with.
Doing abstract impressionist music also helps a lot…

This has been my dilemma for ages now. My bigger problems however… bigger than lack of inspiration… is lack of time, and lack of a decent work space. I need a space where I can zone out everything else, and focus on the music… and I don’t have that at all. Without these two things, all inspiration flies out the door. Even with them, however, I often find myself in a pit of “fuck I suck at this shit” … to which my only solution is fucking around with random shit for fun. The more fun you have with composition, the more inspired you will be. Experiment as much as you possibly can.

I tried cooping with several people, but nobody felt like it or had no
free time, so I picked up writing again as it often inspires me to make
music to what I wrote, but making soundtracks to absurdism is absurd,
so I bought a computer to see if a fresh workstation could inspire me
after years of working with a laptop only, but to no avail, so I locked
myself in for a week and forced myself to make something, anything at
all, but the snippets were horrible, vague sketches of nothing, so I
played videogames to see if digital adventures could lure out some
inspiration, but I ended up wasting hours behind a controller instead,
so I tried some amphetamine and mdma to see if I was missing the
obvious, but I wasn’t, so then I gave up.

Fack composing, fack gigging, fack the whole facking scene and as fun as
Renoise may be, this frustrating self-torture of WANTING to make music,
but CAN’T DO IT was eating me from the inside out, stagnating my brain,
contentness singing a lullaby, dragging me into what seemed like the eternal sleep.

And then: WHAAAAAM!!! I met someone. It blew me right off
my socks, straight down Euphoria Lane, engulfing me in a sea of
confusion, doubt and undeniable mania. My head is a totall freaking
mess, but it shook me wide awake and set my soul ablaze.

I smile once more over the irony that is the Cosmic Humour of God.

“You are a puppet.
You are a puppet.
You are a puppet.
You are a puppet.
I am a puppet.
I am a puppet.
We are all puppets!
We are all puppets!
We are all puppets!
We are all puppets!!!”

  • Ziltoid.

I’ll totally agree with the collab thing.

I’ve been mucking around with random stuff for a long time, but nothing really good was turning out.

A friend sent me an IM about some bass vst he’d found and sent me a little demo loop of something he’d made. I jokingly threw some drumming on that track and sent it back to him. He sends it back with some orchestra strings. I threw in a couple more strings, and polished the drumming up a bit more.

Back and forth. His compositions inspired compositions for me, and vice versa.

4 hours later, we’ve got a better song than either of us could have created alone.

It was so awesome. We even started a project together because of how well the whole thing went.

Sadly, now I’m stuck back at the uninspired level, but, it’ll level out again.

Having like bad days or good days is kinda the same thing. You never know when you start Renoise if its going to be good or not :)