Creativity Exercise #7: Stop Writing Alone - Invite A Friend(s) To Join You

[note: This exercise will be fairly redundant if you’re already in a band. Even if that’s you, this is a good starter guide to working with partners in music, so it’s still relevant anyways.]

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There’s nothing quite like introducing a new person into your creative environment to shake things up. They have a whole world of ideas, preferred sounds, styles, and creative processes that will totally mess up what you’re used to - which is a great way to start creating something  new.

Leadership

A big challenge of working in a group is accepting who the “leader” is. If you’re just working with one other person, this isn’t as big of a challenge as a leader isn’t always necessary, but once you have 3 or more people, usually someone will take the lead just naturally.

If you have 2 natural leaders, learning to work with each other can be difficult unless they’re willing to take turns.

The way to defeat this is for a leader to approach the situation with a humble attitude. If two of you have a great idea at the same time, you need to be willing to shelve your idea and allow the other person to shine.

But you don’t want to forget your great idea, right? You don’t have to - just pull out your phone and quickly record your idea for a minute or two. Let your music partner know first that you’d like to save your idea in a recording, so that you can focus a good chunk of time on their idea. This puts them ahead of you, but still honors your own ideas.

Breaking The Ice

If you aren’t already creatively familiar with someone, there can be a bit friction when you get going.

You can always get through the friction cold turkey, and just start writing. It might take you a bit to write something you like, but it’s a perfectly legitimate method of breaking the ice.

One way that I often use to get comfortable working with someone, is to just learn a cover song with them. Because the cover has a certain strictness in accordance with the chords, structure, and time signature.

You’re forced to work together and hold each other accountable to the song; some of my most comfortable and smooth musical relationships started out playing cover songs.

As you gain trust with a partner, you’ll start to realize how limited you were writing songs on your own. This can take months, but it can also happen on your first time together. 

I find that songs I write on my own can be interesting, but songs I write with someone else tend to have more flow and relevance to a listener. They also tend to incorporate dozens of ideas I never would have considered on my own, as the blending of 2+ musical preferences tends to do that.

Summary

You can greatly expand the content of your music by writing with someone else. They’ll contribute ideas that you wouldn’t have considered, and bring out parts of yourself you hadn’t previously explored.

Every different person you work with will bring out different parts of you. If you can handle it, try to work with as many people as possible!

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.