Updated: May 11, 2020
The recent COVID-19 upheaval has turned many people's daily routines upside-down. As a self employed musician, I'm used to working from home and creating my own timetable. I've been lucky enough to be one of those hermit type musos who writes bass lines in her slippers and only ventures out the studio at the mention of coffee and biscuits.
There have definitely been things I've had to adjust. There were some useful pieces of software I had to pick up (and quickly) and I've realised how important a good work space is. As the end of isolation gradually comes into view, I wanted to share with you the things that have helped me get into a good creative workflow at home.
Whether it's physical space or mental space it's an important ritual to uphold. One thing I always do before I sit down to write music, practice or edit is clear my workspace (which coincidentally clears my brain). I also write a list and open up my diary to look at my schedule. This all gives me a sense of peace and means I can then focus on the creative task without anything niggling at me.
I also find scheduling things out in blocks makes my day feel more structured. Even if those blocks are - exercise - write - coffee - write - editing - walk. You are still mentally giving yourself a structure to follow. Good tools for this are
Make The Most of Your Tech
Ok so maybe you are a technophobe and the idea of sending an email just isn't your jam. Hear me out. There are so many ways to stay connected and be productive while you are working from home and being open to using new tech is going to help you in the long run, I promise. When something doesn't work first time and you spend a whole day getting to grips with it, that isn't a day wasted. You will have learned so much from trying (and possibly failing) at using a new piece of software. Try to enjoy the process and actually set time aside to learn something new.
Great free software I've been getting to grips with:
OBS Broadcast Software - Great for streaming and creating a unique screen.
Soundflower - I now use Loopback which is a paid download but this one is good to get to grips with. It's great for remote session work or mixing where you can both hear the same Logic or Ableton project via Zoom (very cool).
CamTwist - How I linked up my DSLR camera to get high quality streaming visuals
Kontakt Komplete - Very fun synth plugins to try out for FREE!
Soundtoys Effect Rack (free until June 30th)
Arturia Analog Lab (free until July 3rd)
Arturia Pigments (free until July 3rd)
TopTip:Youtube is your friend! It's full of amazing tutorials, reviews and inspiration.
On the 23rd of April Paper Dragon streamed our 'Loving You' single launch. I used a lot of the software listed above to create a fully live stream. You can check out the show here -PAPER DRAGON LIVE STREAM
When you're working from home or working for yourself it's hard to know when you're doing well. Finding someone you can regularly check in with, chat things through with or test out ideas on, is something I've found super helpful. I check in with my manager and my boyfriend most days, we bounce ideas off each other and I'm able to share my progress. It makes me feel like I'm moving forward and also keeps me accountable. Sure, you may not have a live in sounding board (he will kill me for calling him that) or an incredibly patient manager but find someone who is passionate about what you do and ask them if they mind you checking in with them once a week. It can go both ways, finding someone in your industry is great as they will be able to bring relevant ideas to the table and you can both share progress and ideas together.And, this is super easy by phone or Zoom!
Finding your 'zone' is the key to a good creative workflow. When I'm in the 'zone' I'm almost in a meditative state. Iallowthings to happen rather than forcing them. If I'm writing a topline, I will get into that space by listening to some music by the artist I'm writing for, I'll make a coffee and just chill with the music for a bit. I might have a look in my note book for some good words or subjects I've been thinking about recently. The main thing that's happening is I'm relaxing, not stressing. I'm allowing my brain and body to sort of slide into the space where I'm able to create. This also applies when I'm practicing. By not adding stress into the mix, your mind is free to open up and make something cool.
I hope that has added a bit of fuel to your daily creative routine. I've definitely discovered some things during isolation that I will keep in my routine. The main thing is to enjoy the small things and remember to look after yourself. It won't be long until we can all meet up in a field again and listen to some seriously good music.
If you want to hear more about my streaming tips then you can listen to an interview I did with BBC Introducing here: