Foreword by Timmy Kusnierek | Article by Nick Kaelar
From a staple of Monstercat, to his Koinu side project, and even Hollywood films like Fast and Furious 7, Nick Kaelar is a veritable creative powerhouse. You might know him better as Varien and his work never ceases to amaze fans with its incredible breadth and innovation. Whether you’re a producer, writer, graphic artist, or even an amateur dancer, we can all learn a thing or two from someone as accomplished and driven as Varien.
Now, in partnership with Point Blank Music School, Varien has compiled six tips for staying in the creative zone and pursuing your passion, whatever it may be. Additionally, within each point are various links to more resources, and at the end of the piece Varien’s listed some recommended books to deepen your own creative well.
1. Hydrate, Motherfucker
I’m not here to lecture you on diet, because the science is in on it being different for everyone and it’s a person-to-person decision. However! The science is also
in on the fact that you should be drinking a ton of water. If you don’t, start. If you do, drink more – get yourself a refillable bottle and use it often. Studies show that drinking water regularly can increase cognitive function and mood in any age ( 1
), reduce headaches ( 3
), and even help that hangover from the last night’s shenanigans( 5
). Also ditch the soda; you’re an adult.
Another modality outside of production techniques that actually affects the producer themselves is exercise of any kind. You have to find your right groove here – not everyone wants to lift weights, or run, or do Zumba. Maybe your thing is yoga or a weekly soccer meetup. The point is – move! Here, science points us to things we may already know just from hearing it over and over again – exercise regenerates damages neurons from stress ( 5
) and the prevents it from happening again ( 6
). It also has a whole plethora of memory and cognitive benefits including the preservation of long term memory ( 6
3. Meditate and Destroy
Being a creative person can be challenging at times: doubt, self-criticism, confusion, and more can blur our artistic vision and sometimes cause petty emotions like jealousy to take the wheel. Fuck that. Destroy it – by keeping all in check. I’m not asking you to do anything but breathe deep and focus – no occult or New Age attachments here. Breathing deep is a huge competent in reducing oxidative stress ( 7
) and meditation has so many benefits that to list them all would take a whole article. Here’s a great writeup
on LiveAndDare with a nice infograph and
citations. Mmm. (Can you tell I like citations to actual studies yet?)
4. Don’t Create
I’d say all my best production moments come from when I’m not producing. Getting out with friends, taking a few nights or days off to read books, play video games, etc. is absolutely beneficial to the creative process. You are not immune from getting burnt out on working on music, as much as you love it. Give yourself some rest and relaxation time even when you feel you need to push forward: it can wait a little bit, and your wait will pay off when you go to create next. The NY Times did a piece on this called Relax! You’ll Be More Productive
– I suggest checking it out. Don’t get lazy, though!
5. Consume Different Types of Art
Movies, video games, anime, television, YouTube videos of a kid saying “Yee Boi” for a minute, the theater, books, etc. You get me. By consuming different types of art outside of your own scope of practice, you will engage the creative part of you without it feeling like work. Everyday I warm up by browsing Reddit’s art subreddits, reading a chapter from a book, watching some good series on TV, and then hitting the studio chair. Our brain seeks novelty like cocaine these days, and we must adapt to that, but mindfully (see #3) and gracefully by being a quintessential artist.
6. Don’t Trap Yourself in an Echo Chamber
My final tip to you is to not let you build a cage of your own demise. Touching on the last point, if you consume different types of art and get out often enough to experience this crazy thing you’re in called life, it opens you up to a whole sphere of influence that can be infinitely tapped into. But if you stick with only the stuff that you already like, and never grow to that point of infinite sources of inspiration, you are building yourself an echo chamber. And much like all enclosed spaces – you will be suffocated and will not be able to adapt. I see too many artists failing in their crafts because they refuse to leave their self-build prison out of elitism or some other egoic dogma bullshit. Stop. You will tear yourself down.
Recommended Books on Creativity: