Reboot Technique #4:
Early Mornin’ Studio Action
This one won’t appeal to everyone, but if you’re working a day job, and you simply don’t have time to do a lot of recording.
Try getting up early once or twice a week and spending an hour or two in the studio.
I heard one guy say, “Be selfish with your time at 5 am.”
If you struggle with finding time to record, without neglecting your job and family, maybe you need to spend some time working on your music in the wee hours of the morning.
This does two things:
1) It forces you to take intentional action on a project your working on, and
2) It keeps you from wasting time. If you know you’ve got to hop in the shower and get ready for work at 7 am, then when you sit down in the studio at 6 am, you’re forced to be highly focused for one hour.
I launched a class called One-Hour Challenges a while back. The premise of the class was that you can accomplish a crap-load of stuff in your studio in just one hour. Over the course of several months, I gave myself regular One-hour challenges. I would set a timer for one hour when I walked in the studio, and one hour later I’d be done.
You know what happens when you do this? You get stuff done. You’d be shocked how much can happen with 60 minutes of good old-fashioned focus.
You don’t have to get up early to work against a timer, but it’s worth a try.
Reboot Technique #5:
Fill Your Brain
Do you like to read? Or maybe listen to podcasts? I’ve done a lot of both lately. I read the occasional recording book, lots of blogs online, and I listen to a fair number of podcasts, too.
These can be wonderful sources of information, and that information tends to feed into the creative cycle (at least for me). Listening to two dudes argue over mic technique is both informative and entertaining. Plus, the added bonus of simply peaking inside another guy’s studio, seeing how he goes about working on projects — that gets me excited to go back into my studio and work on stuff.
Here are a few recommended podcasts:
—Simply Recording Podcast (shameless plug, I know)
—Home Recording Show
—Inside Home Recording
Reboot Technique #6:
The Big Deadline
You know what motivates me more than anything else in the studio? Something big. Something epic. Something with a deadline.
Back in the spring of 2010, I had been “working on” a solo album for months — since the previous summer, actually. It was an acoustic guitar-driven album, and I had all the main acoustic guitar parts recorded, but I had done NOTHING on the album in months.
I could honestly say I had started the album. But things had stalled. I had stalled. I always assumed the album would sort of come together. That I would magically work on it on a spur-of-the-moment basis. A little bit here. A little bit there. Then suddenly — BAM! Album done.
It doesn’t work that way.
I don’t know if you knew this, but projects don’t finish themselves. :>)
Now, it may sound odd — and this might not work for everyone — but for me, the solution for my dilly-dallying was simply this: I set a deadline.
But not only that, I told people about it. I told my adoring fans (all four of them, including my mom) that I was releasing an album in the summer of 2010.
Then I did something crazy. I launched a mixing class for my Home Studio Corner subscribers. They could sign up and mix the album along with me — AS I was mixing the album myself.
What had I done? I’d essentially added a deadline on top of my deadline. I knew I wanted the album to be finished sometime in the summer, but then I launched a 10-week class, meaning I had to mix one song per week for 10 weeks. There were paying customers, each one expecting to get the multi-tracks to a song each week.
I could dilly-dally no longer.
I gave myself no choice but to get this thing done, and fast. Can you guess what happened? I got it done. The album released in September 2010.
Okay that’s not technically summer, but here’s the cool thing about deadlines. I set a deadline of summer. I missed the deadline, but I released the album in September.
Had I set NO deadline…heck, that album might STILL be unfinished. The deadline kicked my lazy butt into gear. And I was able to get it done.
One final point on deadlines. The goal here isn’t to make you dread your studio. I don’t want to turn recording into a chore or a burden. Do you think setting those deadlines and launching that mixing class added some pressure and stress to my life? Sure. But I had a BLAST the entire time.
Yes, there were stressful moments. There were days where I was frustrated. But all in all I LOVED the process, because I love music and recording.
The deadline forced me to do something I love. Doesn’t get much better than that.
What ways can you set deadlines for yourself? I’m guessing you have no intention of launching a mixing class or anything like that, but what are some other ways you can “put your feet to the fire”?
Setting a deadline, having a goal out there that people knew about, forced me out of any creative “funk” I might have been in. Deadlines wait for no one — and they can be the ultimate way to reboot YOUR system.
Joe Gilder is a Nashville-based engineer, musician, and producer who also provides training and advice at the Home Studio Corner.