Here’s an interesting tale. As a guitar player, I’m like most of my guitar playing brethren. We’re all on a seemingly endless quest to perfect our guitar tone. I found something very close to ideal, which works reliably for me. It is heavily reliant on a particular overdrive pedal. If I hook everything up, with delay and reverb added, I get a tone that is both versatile and dynamic. It inspires me to play better.
The problem is: where do I go from here? What happens if and when I get bored with my perfected tone?
Here’s what I did. I took the key element of my sound – the overdrive pedal – out of the equation. I didn’t hook it up at all, leaving just delay and reverb. Now, I have a new, interesting, clean sound to explore and it’s encouraging me to play very differently.
As they say, a change is as good as a holiday.
The lesson in this is that you should always explore. You can surprise and inspire yourself, if you do. I know I can always set up my perfect tone, any time I want. In fact, it will probably sound fresh and exciting again, simply because I have broken the habit of always relying on it. The new clean tone is another I can fine tune and perfect. Then I’ll have two. Do you see how that works? It’s like expanding your palette or repertoire. Indeed, because different guitar tones encourage you to play differently, it expands your musical repertoire as well.
Avoiding staleness and the blocks that occur, when you run out of ideas, really is as simple as dismantling that aspect of your artistic process that you have striven to perfect. Break it and see where else that leads you. Don’t get stuck in a habit just because it works. Breaking habits and developing new ones is very good for your art, mind and soul. It rejuvenates creativity.
So, if something is working reliably well for you, have the courage and curiosity to try something different and new. You won’t regret it.
Perfection isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.