Nobody likes being stuck in a creative rut. And if you can’t work with regular collaborators or spend time with friends and family, it can be hard to motivate yourself and to get in a productive, creative headspace. That said, inspiration can come from anywhere. In the right context, many artists can even use negative emotion as a catalyst to drive their lyrical and musical creativity further.
Hip-hop artists like Immortal Technique, Eminem, Jedi Mind Tricks, and Tech N9ne use dark imagery to convey their artistic message. Conversely, rappers like Common, Chance the Rapper, and De La Soul often use positivity to motivate and uplift their audience. Both ends of the spectrum can resonate equally with a listener.
Mood doesn’t need to match message
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, your music doesn’t necessarily need to reflect that. If “dark” is the vibe you’re going for, lean into it and see where it takes you.
What if you pushed those frustrations in an aspirational direction? What would inspire you? Having a party, hanging out with your friends or co-collaborators? Making a beat or tracking vocals or instruments?
Instead of letting negative feelings fester, try aiming for how you want to feel. Aspirational lyrics are a great way to get around a creative block. Listen to the lyrics of the Chance the Rapper track “All Day Long”. John Legend's verse evokes feelings of gratitude through singing about the music they’re making. It glistens with the bright optimism of a better day.
You aren’t alone
If you just aren’t finding the spark you need to get your ideas off the ground, remember everyone goes through the same range of emotions and blocks.
Hip-hop artist and songwriter AdELA has recently started addressing the concerns many are having. She began a video webinar series with Mandy Morris, a therapist based in Atlanta, where they both live. In their videos, AdELA and Mandy discuss the processes, challenges, and solutions that help artists stay creative in limited space.
As a songwriter and musician myself, I’ve personally found these episodes to be helpful in remembering that my current environment is a temporary challenge of inconvenience, not a shortcoming of my own creative ability. It also feels good knowing that I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Share your ideas with people
Now more than ever, people are discovering new ways to collaborate remotely. If you’re stuck at home and aren’t able to get to the studio you normally work in, there are many ways to keep the creative process going.
iZotope’s Spire app for iOS and Spire Studio are great tools not only to record tracks without hitting a recording studio, but also to share your tracks with writing partners, other vocalists and instrumentalists, producers, and friends. We’ve made it easy to share your tracks in multiple formats on the go or from your bedroom. Look below for more articles to help you get started.