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Creative tunes–How music can help you get into the creative flow

I had a hard time getting into my work flow when we started traveling, especially when doing creative work. So many new flowers, new landscapes, places to go, food to taste — I was being bombarded with inspiration and I had so many ideas. To sit down and do the work was my struggle. Inspiration was still out there, and I was always feeling tempted to go check it out. It was difficult to concentrate. Combined with the fact that I had no creative corner to call my own, as I used to have. No candles to light, no organized desk to just plug in, not even all my art supplies with me. And definitively, not having a place that my brain could associate with doing the work was the major factor influencing my struggle. So, I needed to find a constant, a symbol, a call to action that my brain could recognize as “it’s time to create”.

YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER: MUSIC!

The initial idea was to collect in a playlist a few tunes that inspire me in general. Those would be melodies my body resonates with, because of the tunes and/or because of the lyrics that were making sense in that moment of my life. How familiar these first songs were to me also played an important role. As there was nothing new for my brain to figure out in them, they were not distracting. Then Spotify started to suggest other songs to add the playlist. Many of them I had never heard before or had heard once or twice in my life. I added only the ones that were interesting at first glance, and some I cut off later, when I realized they were not helping me to stay in the flow.

Here's how it worked out

  • The first song was already playing in my headphones when collecting the art materials and preparing the work setting for that day. Every time, the same familiar song. One that makes me feel good and playful and doesn’t require from my brain anything else than just enjoy the moment. After a couple of familiar songs, I was already in the flow, doing the work without even noticing.

  • When the new tunes started to play, I was already so concentrated and into the task that they worked as background stimulus rather than disturbances, activating my brain to create even more. Unfamiliar songs are very important in this experiment too. It’s almost like adding new seasons or ingredients to a meal, in an intuitive way. And any creative work appreciates being spiced out.

  • The playlist was growing every time I listened to it. If you are not familiar with Spotify, the platform keeps playing related songs after the playlist is over. Occasionally, the suggestions were so on point and worked so well in my flow that I just kept them.

We have been on the road since the beginning of 2021, and I’ve been creating one new playlist every year. I named them Studio 2021, Studio 2022 and I’m already putting together the Studio 2023 one. Funny thing is that I listened to those songs so much that they not only became a soundtrack of the places I visited in that year but also of the designs I created while listening to them. When they are playing, I can remember the feeling of being in that place, of living that moment of my career. It just occurred to me I may have a very interesting collection of playlists that reflect my path and career in a few years from now. How cool is that?

Do you want to check the playlist?

In case you want to check the playlists out or follow them in Spotify, I’m sharing the links, a brief description, and a few facts you may like to know at the bottom of this post. Hopefully, you can feel the places I was in when those songs were playing over and over, and maybe even recognize some of my work in those tunes. If this happens to you, it would be awesome if could let me know.

Try it out and be happy creating

It can take some time to curate your playlist and to train your brain to recognize it as a trigger. It surely took me some time to get there and to realize how the playlist was working out. But if there is one thing that helped me to stay focused and advance in my projects while on the road, it was the playlist. If you know you’re going to travel or are about to face changes in your routine that may disturb your flow, you can implement this strategy in advance. In that way, your brain will be already trained when you start living these new routines or the lack of them. Trust me, this playlist can be a great ally to your creative goals.

Are you going to try it out? How will you name your playlist? I would love to know if this strategy worked out for you (and follow your playlists too, of course). Don’t forget to share them with me. I love to discover new songs, as you can imagine.

The playlists that got me going

Playlist

54 songs  | 3h30min

Vibe
chill out, playful, and relaxed

Style
a mix of blues, R&B, blues-rock, folk, jazz, rock, and others

Scenary
the paradisiac Azores islands, first São Miguel and then Faial

What I was doing
Part-time gardening work and pet sitting, part time finishing the collection The Beginning, starting the collection Thirty Days of Flowers, working on my pdf portfolio, and organizing ways of collecting inspirations to be used in the future.

Includes
The California Honeydrops, Odetta, Mountain Man, Elvis Presley, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, The Modern Lovers and others.

Playlist

21 songs  | 1h24min

Vibe
“Go get it”, fast-paced and energetic songs with a bit of funny lyrics in the middle. The multilanguage of this playlist is a brain activator to me. I understand and can speak a bit in all the languages presented in this playlist. Having some German songs after Italian ones, and some Brazilian in the middle, it literally puts my brain in the gym.

Style
rock, electronic, Lo-Fi, funk and others

Scenary
I started the year on Faial Island, Portugal. Went to Berlin and Stuttgart, in Germany. And then Amsterdam, Netherlands (be ready for an ecletic playlist).

What I was doing
Pet sitting + designing the collection Thirty Days of Flowers, updating the website, contacting companies, and improving my design skills.  

Includes
Queen, Aaron Taylor, Le Tigre, Peter Schilling, Flavien Berger, Le Feste Antonacci and others

Here is a sample of the songs

Here you can see the songs inside each playlist and even listen the first tunes of them. To listen to the entire song and playlist, you will need to be logged in Spotify. If you do so, I also have many other playlists you may like, feel free to explore! 

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