We've all have had loooooong nights as composers. Not just any, "I'm going to bed at 12AM?!" More like: "Oh. This needs to be done the next morning and I have 12 hours to do it? OK." You start off by counting the hours, then the half-hours, all the way down to the mere minutes. "How long is this going to take to bounce? Gaaaahhhh!"
Sometimes the best ideas come at night. Other times, you have to know when to stop and just plug your brain in your pillow. How do you know when to stay with the flow, or go to bed?
1AM rolls around and, BAM! The greatest melody I've ever heard in my LIFE just popped into my head. I've got to get that down, STAT. (No kidding, I'll tell you how I feel about that later) I pop open Logic, grab a few instruments I think are interesting, and away we go! I might go til 10AM the next morning and complete something completely new. Later that day (most likely after I slept...most likely), I would always check back on my work and give it a second listen and if it passed the test (sounds good), I file it away for a rainy day. Thus, the night-owl cycle would begin again. Somehow through those long nights, I gained a closer look on my compositional skills and they mysteries of creating my own voice.
I figured, since I've had a plenty of experience in these long nights, I can share some tricks and lessons I've learned to get through the night and stay creatively active.
1. Grab that Red Bull kiddos! I guess I'll state the obvious first, energy drink. Energy drinks have an edge over coffee - they don't make you feel heavy and "I'm almost feeling normal this morning"-type of feeling. If you wanted to, you could drink 2-3 energy drinks in one sitting. Coffee...meh not so much...maybe for some. It is a stimulant to your brain that will not only keep you awake, but also might whisper dirty secrets of how to try new things with your music.
2. Take breaks! After working for about 2 hours, take 10-20 minutes and step away from the screen. Take a bio break. Go stare inside the empty fridge. Actually, go stare into the slightly-less empty cupboard. Stretch the legs. I find that the first break I take from when I start is the most important, and usually the longest, but I'm enthusiastic to get back to work. After that, I take a 5-10 minute break every hour to grab some water or munchable goods.
3. Munchies!! So while you're on your break, grab something finger-y delicious so your jaw can stay moving throughout your music making genius moments, giving your body energy until the next time you take a break. Don't have an oral fixation like I do? Water. Keep it flowin. As you can see, I like Teddy Grahams. Nothing like a little bit of honey to help you get out that next phrase of music. I choose to keep things on the lighter side since anything heavy, or large in quantity might make me feel sedated.
4. Don't even think about it! If you're unfortunate like me, you sleep where you work. Noooooo, I'm not talking about the copious amounts of work loveless relationships you've been through. I'm talking about the portal to dreamland: the bed being in the same room where you create. Never think that you can just "lay down for a few minutes." That never works. Ever. The bed is a mythological Siren that will lure you with rest and warm blankets like when you were a baby to a deep sleep that will most likely result in you being late the next morning because your subconscious conveniently shut off your alarm clock due to the melodious lullaby of the Siren. It's a dirty, filthy creature to your creative mind. Get up and go for a short walk, you'll soon feel rejuvenated.
5. Keep pushing forward. Sometimes I would get stuck in these loops of just listening to the same minute of music that I just wrote for an endless amount of time. STOP. You have to get through that mental roadblock that's always asking, "is this good enough?" I've found the times I just pushed through and wrote more material to finish, the music I wrote ends up sounding just as good, or even better when I tweak it after the second listen. Sitting there and constantly figuring out how to make it better or add to what is already written will only get you a really great introduction to what could've been a potentially great piece of music.
6. Close ALL THE THINGS!!!!! Yep, you heard me. Any application that isn't related to your workflow or DAW, close. No, the internet is not apart of your workflow. Maybe some parts, but then you close it right away when you're done! You might think keeping distracting things open are as harmless as a little spider. Unfortunately for you, that spider decides to crawl down your throat while you're sleeping and lay eggs in your stomach, and tiny little baby spiders hatch and make a ton of webs and you never get the nutrients you need to live and you die. Escalated quickly enough for you? It won't unless you leave that internet browser open while you're trying to work.
So the next time you have to get through a long night, prepare yourself with a few of these tips and you might make it through! Energy drinks and Twizzlers can only get you so far though, so make sure to give your self a pep talk. You CAN do this!