Who Do You Write For?

For the first time in a long time, or maybe the first serious time ever, I have hit writer’s block.

Call it a ‘musical midlife crisis’ if you like, I just can’t will myself to sit at Renoise, or Reaper, or with my instruments and voice, and really work on my music. It’s not as if I’m lacking in skill, ideas, projects, collaborations, time, and energy to make music successfully. I’ve hit some sort of emotional wall, and it’s quietly painful. How did this happen?

Well, not going into personal details here: I offended some friends, and in the process of reaping what I sowed discovered that a lot of my motivation to write, and to complete big projects, was coming from a deep desire to please others. Don’t read this a necessarily ‘writing music tailored to other people’s demands and tastes’, but rather as producing a product that is impressive and designed to prove my worth to people. To earn acceptance.

When the house of cards comes crashing down, and the people who you are trying to prove yourself to don’t want to know you anymore because you stupidly offended them, then you have no one to prove yourself to. Even worse, after life moves on, you might repeat the bad habit and find new people ‘prove’ yourself to. And it could go on and on forever, because you’ll always pick people you feel inadequate against, and due to the regular misunderstandings in life you will inevitably fall short until the relationship expires. Oh sure, you might scape some fans together along the way, but you never want to impress them: you want to impress the people who you’ve chosen to be impossible to impress. So the work is relentlessly trying to attempt the impossible.

This, for me, has to stop. I cannot start this silly cycle again. Hence the writer’s block. The thought of working on music is now associated with all this toxicity, and I am responsible for it. I have to somehow slowly work through this process and find again a true and healthy motivation for writing music. One that is unclouded by fictions and illusions that I have bought into.

So, why is it that you write music? I’ve heard many people say that they just write for themselves, but ask yourself: is that really true? Are you writing to prove something? Prove to who? Prove what? Goodness knows us musical types are a little bit more odd that most people and generally on the periphery of society: are we writing to prove our worth and necessity in society? Or is it something deeper, are we trying to right some psychological wrong that has occurred in our past. Are we writing to prove that hurt wrong? Or is it ego?

Is your writing altruistic? Is the purpose of your writing to show your fellow humans what magic and beauty (however noisy and crazy your music may be ;)) there is out there? Is it to inspire people, to enrich and ennoble their consciousness experience? How do you maintain such a pure approach? How do you prevent it from the corruption of bowing down to that act of pleasing others, and consequently leading your work into compromise and dilution? How do you turn a private and self-absorbed act into one of pure humanistic service and still write wonderful music?

Think about who you are writing for.


Oh, mostly I write music because it’s fun. As for audience or ‘purpose’, I guess I’ve always tried to make soundtracks for the crazy stories I come up with. Looking back, I can say BotB was in the end trying to impress technically and very much about making the music as intense as possible for a breakcore dancefloor. Now my music is about impact, I think and its ‘purpose’ is still to be heared on a dancefloor.

Maybe it helps to ask yourself what makes music fun and enjoyable to you. If making music to ‘please’ others has always been your driving force, then I guess there’s nothing wrong at all about making music to please others. Anyway, my point is that it shoud be fun, enjoyable to do, not rewarding per se. If it’s the actual WORKING on music that works against you, maybe it’s an idea to just pick up your guitar, or sit behind your keys and play? No recording, no arranging, no programming, but play music nonetheless!

Good luck with things, man!

When I started out sometime in the early 90s one of the guys I was making music with was alot better then I was, so back then I guess I wrote music to impress (to a certain extent); him and the other guys in the band I was in. After all that came crashing down, and the band was no more, I sort of quit. I made maybe 5 tunes in 3-4 years or something, as I didn’t know where to go, or what to do with it. But I had my integrity intact even back then, I think, as I always did some other shit, always experimented and tried to do what I wanted (even if it was to impress), not like some of the other dudes, who more or less copied other artists; albeit doing it very well.

Now days I make music for myself to listen to, I just figured that since I’m gonna make music regardless, why not put it out there for other people to listen to as well. Sure I’m sensitive to other peoples opinions (I guess that just comes with the territory when dealing with something that’s very personal), but what is ultimately most important to me is that I make music that I like, for myself, not what anybody else thinks about it. But I mean this is a complex issue, I for instance feel I need to be around people that are good, or better (in my own opinion), then myself. Not because I want to impress them (although when/if you do, it’s not like it’s a bad feeling), but more so that I can challenge myself.

As for why I express myself aesthetically in various ways (no, not just music), I really don’t know, there’s probably some underlying psychological issue(s) that make me feel the need to. But I don’t really care that much about why to be honest; I like doing it, that’s enough for me. For now (although I have been pondering about taking it to another level, in another direction, but I got alot more thinking to do before I can make any decision on that).

I’m sorry to hear you’ve hit a writers block. I think the best solution is to take on challenges in other genres or styles, just make stuff you’ve never done before. This usually helps me to gain new interest in production techniques and producing in general.

To answer your question, I make music for my own enjoyment in the first place but I do need recognition. Not especially from friends but also from other producers. I could make the best track ever in my opinion but if nobody want to listen or has something to say about it the spark is immediately gone and I’ll forget about the track and do something else. I realized that I don’t need this recognition with my ambient music, somehow I can listen to it from a listeners point of view and really get lost in the sounds.

I’m making music actively since two years now (after two years of practicing guitar, which came after six years of no interest for music, wich came after three clarinet/music theory…), mostly because I have sounds/music/emotions in my head that I want to fix in time. So yes I wrote music mostly for myself as strange as it can be.

I had writer’s block, that’s makes me think, you can believe sometimes that you are more inspired than another time, that’s bulls**t. I’m sure our writing music skills are always the same, there is just moments in life we are more confident than other. Turning the problem into a lack of confidence makes me asking one thing to myself: since I started making music did I write one thing great ?
To find the answer I listen my stuff randomly, created since I started making music (from full musics, to unfinished musics, to 2 bar loops, to samples) and I start writing a list of what is great, and what can be improved. Most of the time it makes me forget my lack of confidence and I start having ideas again.

I’m also facing a writer’s block. It could be funny to hear me saying that since I have released two songs in the last two months (which is a lot for my standards), but I’m not 100% satisfied with any of them, and I am above all unsatisfied about the way I wrote them: I wasn’t emotionally kept into them at full as I usually am, and I’m also lacking of attention on music and things in general in this period.

I have been composing music for almost 17 years with barely any break since now. If you look at it, 17 years as a composer is a lot even for trained professionals, as I see that most of the 90’s composers, if they are still around, are touring with their old music.

I’m not saying I am going to stop with composing music, but I will probably be making less music in the future, trying to prioritize “real life”. This is because I make music for my pleasure, and that’s where my words relate to yours: the only person to challenge (and to please) is yourself, if nobody pays you to make it. I have been “enslaved” by my music for years, and I like that slavery, but since my social and loving life has been completely destroyed (not because of music anyway) recently, probably it’s time to change priorities and “free” myself from that beloved slavery.

Let’s say I will become a freelance composer who works for a buyer called Fabio Napodano :) Maybe this kind of point of view could be of some help to you


In all seriousness though, there’s something to be said about having no ambition. Catholics say envy is a deadly sin. Buddhists say desire leads to suffering. I say slacking is an artform.

My first music projects, back in the late 90s, were always based around the scene I was involved with. Great projects, great battles, but great drama. The last thing I did that I find coherent was in 2005, and I did it as part of a trying to run a label; e.g. great piles of money down the toilet, a lot of stress and drinking/pot which most likely led to health problems (I spent a year in and out of health centers with a diagnosis of “possible multiple sclerosis” that magically went away… very, very slowly…)

I don’t write a lot of music these days. I listen. I script. I fuck around. And I’m OK with this. I write for no one.

I only write what i want and if i want to put some feelings into something.
I then publish it uncommercially and unpromoted. I don’t care who wants to listen to it or not. It feels nice to know others can enjoy it, i don’t feel guilty if folks feel offended by it, they weren’t obliged to listen to it anyway, i didn’t pushed their noses into my work and demanded attention from them, it was their choice and so is their experience.



I know, this is not about “inspiration” as such, but I think that movie is a glimpse into the idea of “living music”, which is truly inspiring.

Thanks for your replies, they are all useful perspectives. In particular it was very relieving to hear Maynard say those words.

Well its totaly different for me. Im quite new into music as you know or dont know ;) It will be over year including ejay time.

And im aware that sometimes i make pretty much shit not music but i like it. It gives me so much satisfaction that I created something, and I can listen it over and over :)

You know people asks, what is the purpose of live? It is creation. And thats why you feel satisfaction when you create something. You just feel good.

When it go wrong? When you get to the point “I will show you all”. But hey people just dont care.

Yeah, and sometimes I hear good music and I think “such a waste that others wont hear it”.

Thats why in last year in november I came idea to promote others, I wrote on other forum “If you like some1s track publish it on your account, and ask permition before”

Thats why sometimes i ask about permition to put some of people tracks on youtube :) But this is my way. One person cant make much, I thought if i can spread the word about others nice tracks, maybe someday some one will do same about my track :)

I share a similar opinion to many people in this thread: When it really comes down to it, I write because of an intrinsic desire to create for the sake of creation. This was most true when I first got into making music, when I didn’t care how good the end product was, I just enjoyed putting stuff together for fun. When other people started expressing interest in my music, I made an effort to improve. I won’t deny that I’m influenced by the desire to impress others. Support from other people can be a great motivating factor. But even if all outside attention suddenly stopped, I wouldn’t stop. So to answer the question, I suppose fundamentally I make music for myself.

While I’ve hit upon a bit of a writing block myself, I mostly write for my own pleasure. I don’t really think about styles - just do stuff I find interesting.

That said, I don’t have a target audience in mind when I write music - or it’d be faceless, nameless peers and people who ‘get’ the emotion, energy or ‘cleverness’ that I put into tracks. It so happens that others like what I do, so that’s a big incentive to keep going.

Obviously no one truly wants to write music for the big memory hole (that’s why we put our stuff up on SoundCloud, get it on iTunes and talk about it on forums) but I feel it’s important to never feel any pressure or obligation when it comes to writing music. The last track I finished was over three months ago. I have a lot of new ideas since then, some tracks quite advanced, but cannot finish them for some reason.

I don’t like to leave gaps like that, but forcing the block works counterproductive in my case: the process should remain fun and unforced. When I read that the process feels toxic to OP Mark, I would almost consider a reboot - either a prolonged time-out or a name change to start fresh, without baggage.

I’ve had several months of writers block, probably getting close to a year. Only thing I can do in this time is concept pieces. If I can get more than a minute of something working out, that in itself is pretty amazing. Been watching many many films, obscure tv shows and playing loads of videogames in this time. It might be that there is just a ton of good music to listen to that I don’t feel the need to write any.