#125: The Secret to Finding Inspiration and Creativity on the Drums

Finding inspiration as a drummer

I want to share a secret with you… This is a secret that almost every incredible artist already knows. And it’s something we can use in our drumming to start unlocking our creativity and start more INSPIRED parts in our drumming.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying a new method of recording, just to see if it works better, sounds better, is easier for me to do. Things like that. But part of that is, that when I do that, I don’t have those little pre-recorded bumpers that I put at the beginning of the podcast, which actually may not be a bad thing. Because then, they won’t be so repetitive. I know that I have a few ones that I put in, but it may not be so repetitive if I have to speak them out new every time I record an episode.

What I’m going to do this week, I’m going to lead you down a path, and I don’t mean like a step-by-step process. Yesterday we were kind of more inspiring and more general, and kind of a good way to kind of kickstart your week, but then as we move through the episodes this week, we’re going to kind of get more and more specific. And that way, by the end of the week, you’ll have something really cool and you’ll have kind of a whole range of experiences to draw on from this week. And then also, you will have some specific things to work on this weekend maybe in your playing.

So today, we are going to talk about something that I’ve talked about other episodes of the podcast before, but I have not actually talked about this specific aspect. And it’s where does my inspiration come from?

Or, how do you find inspiration on the drums, or as a musician, or really anything? And I always knew this to be true on the drums, and I definitely have had trouble pushing through sometimes when I’m not feeling very inspired musically, and definitely inspiration comes and goes.

The same thing is definitely true with the backing tracks that I’ve been creating for my Instagram videos, which incidentally, if you want some free backing tracks, like the ones that I’ve used on my Instagram videos, you can head over here, and right there on the homepage, there’s a little spot that says, I believe it says something like, “Free drumless backing tracks or my free Track of the Month Club.” Something like that. And you can actually just put your info in right there and I will email you a new backing track every single month totally free. So if you’re interested in that, check that out.

But anyway, when I’m creating these tracks, sometimes I’m definitely feeling inspired and really, I’m able to crack something out that I love and I’m so proud of, and its working, and I’ll have a million ideas, and it’s firing on all cylinders. But many times, I’m not and it’s just hard. And it’s like, “Man, this sounds awful. It’s not interesting. It doesn’t do anything. Or, it sounds cheesy.” Or, a million other things that I think are wrong with it. And those times, it’s really hard to keep pressing forward and making something.

But there’s a book that, if you have not read it, it’s worth reading. It’s called the War of Art. So it’s not the Art of War, not that book. It’s a book that’s a play on that. It’s called the War of Art. And I don’t recall the author’s name, so I’m sorry. But just look up the War of Art and you’ll find it. It’s meant for artists, obviously, and it’s the idea of, “What do you do as an artist?” And I consider us drummers to be artists. “What do you do as an artist when you want to create and you want to create something amazing and fantastic, but then some days you show up and nothing is happening, and it’s awful?

And the basic premise of the book, or what I kind of got from the book was, that the work of an artist is to show up every day and put in the work. Some days, the muse will arrive. Some days, the inspiration will come. And other days, you have to work for it and you don’t actually even get anywhere. All of the day’s work is, seems that it’s for not. So but the important thing is, that you show up every day and you do the work.

What I’ve learned in making these backing tracks and, like I said, I knew this was true of my drumming. I just really hadn’t put thought to it. Or, put words to it. Was that the important thing was when creating music or being a musician,  you just show up every day and put in a little work. And you’ll be surprised when the inspiration arrives, and you can feel it, and its great, and you’re able to create something really inspired and amazing. But you never can get discouraged by when it doesn’t show up. When the inspiration doesn’t come.

The important thing is that you show up and you do the work still, because most of the time, in order to get to the good stuff, you have to go through the bad stuff. And then once you get something good, you probably have to go through the bad stuff again, just to get back to something else good. There are famous artists that I know of, specifically, who have goals like, “I’m going to write one song every day, and it doesn’t have to always be the best thing. It doesn’t always have to be complete, full of thought, or really fully-produced. It’s just the idea of I’m going to write a song every day.”

And then when the time comes for the band to come together and record an album, they have … Well, to start with, they have hundreds of songs to pick from. Then they, maybe that whittle that down to 45 songs, and they maybe do some demos of 30 of those. Then they pick from those 30 demos, they pick the 15 that they’re going to actually record for an album. Then from those 15, they actually pick 10 or 11, or whatever number that is. And us, as music consumers, we hear the 10 or 11 songs, which is, you think about that. Compared to the 300 that at least maybe that were written at first. And you think, “Man, this songwriter writes nothing but incredible music.”

But what you don’t know, is that those 11 are a tiny percentage of the total number of songs that mostly were not very good and were, ultimately, set aside as not good enough, or not ready, or whatever the other reason might be. But the big deal is this. Is that the what we hear, the final result, is not representative of the entire body of work. It’s the artist picking what they’re most proud of and choosing to put that forward. When I put my Instagram videos up, I’m not recording every single time I sit down at the drum set and posting all of those. I’m only posting occasional pieces, a small percentage of when I’m playing the drums, because I know that all of my work is not inspired.

And sometimes, the videos that I put out are not inspired, but I try to put those out as an honest reflection of the work that I’m putting in, even when the inspiration doesn’t arrive. And then sometimes, it happens, and it’s magic, and it’s amazing, but the important thing is, is that you show up to do the work every day, and the inspiration, I promise, will arrive as long as you’re showing up to do the work.

If you wait to feel inspired, or you wait for the inspiration to come, if you wait to write the hit song until the hit song comes out of your mind fully-formed, you will never write the hit song. You only will get there by writing a bunch of bad songs first. You’ll only become a great drummer, or create a great drum performance, by putting in some really bad performances first. All right. I hope that inspires you today and I can’t wait to talk to you again tomorrow. Thanks for joining me!

 

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