Sometimes, when you’re trying to write, paint, write a song or record and produce music (or during thousands of other creative pursuits) you’re going to get stuck. You’re going to grind to an utter halt, without a clue about how to move forward. It’s like being in quicksand without a rope to cling to. That feeling can be very frustrating and very defeating. It might even lead you to abandon the work, or even abandon your art. That seems like quite a high price to pay, just because you can’t come up with the next move or a fresh idea.
Here are some solutions: The first one is available as an iPhone and Android app, as well as on paper, as a deck of physical cards. It was co-created by Brian Eno, the famous record producer and so it lends itself well to music making. It’s the “Oblique Strategies” deck.
Whenever you get stuck, open the app and select a “card” at random.
This deck is guaranteed to get you thinking creatively again. The comments often don’t make sense, until you stop and think. Then the solution comes into your mind, usually more quickly than you expect.
Each card contains a phrase or cryptic remark which can be used to break a deadlock or dilemma situation. Some are specific to music composition; others are more general. Examples include:
- Use an old idea.
- State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
- Only one element of each kind.
- What would your closest friend do?
- What to increase? What to reduce?
- Are there sections? Consider transitions.
- Try faking it!
- Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
- Ask your body.
- Work at a different speed.
Here’s an online version for your browser: http://oblicard.com/
The other deck I use, which is also available as an iPhone App and paper deck (and maybe on Android – I didn’t check), is Roger van Oech’s Creative Whack Pack (I think the official paper version is called the Innovative Whack Pack – very confusing).
I’ve used the paper version since around 2000. I keep forgetting where I put it, so loading it to my iPhone tonight was a good thing. This is another ideation prod. It poses a question, albeit in perhaps a more structured way than the Oblique Strategies that gets you thinking again.
Here is an example of how the cards are grouped:
Vitamins for your creative muscles.