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Paul Nolan’s Studio Tips – Part 1: The Truth About Creativity

Creativity is an ideology.


Most people think creativity is like the ‘Eureka!’ moment in the bath, when a bolt of lightening sent from above hits you and gets you going. Whilst that can happen occasionally, the reality is, 99.9% of the time, you have to create something without the ‘spark’.

‘The Creative Habit’ explains this perfectly. To master your creativity and fulfil your potential, you need only do two things:

1. Have rituals that you repeat that get you into the creative mode
2. Work hard (no surprises there)

So yeah, it’s probably not as glamorous as you’d been led to believe.

Being sat in a studio all day isn’t a cushy life. In fact, it’s really hard work being an artist. Yes, I’d much prefer to be working in a studio, but for me it’s even more challenging than switching my brain off and performing some mind-numbing 9-5.

Being an artist of any kind is to know frustration, annoyance, self – loathing, fear, insecurity and more failure than success. But i’m pleased to say, you can minimise these feelings when you start employing rituals.

So, what are rituals?

A ritual is an action repeated daily, or often enough for it to take on an essential (or even ‘religious’) purpose i.e. it helps you achieve something.

An example for me is: when I put my running kit on, my mind and body anticipates exercise will happen, imminently. Whether I feel like it or not, the kit goes on, and I’m out running. The kit is the trigger to making me exercise i.e. it’s a ritual and it gets me in the mood.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t be arsed to run, write a letter, or pluck up the courage to ask somebody out etc… having a ritual for every mental obstacle, will help you make progress in life. The key is to reflect on the things that get you motivated or get you in the zone. Reflect back to the time something was going good in the studio? What did you do? How did you do it? How were you feeling? What put you in the zone? Those could be your rituals right there.

My Studio Ritual

Playing scales on my piano for 15mins before I start in the studio does several things for me:

  1. Makes me familiar with the notes, their sounds and tones, ready for the session
  2. Gets my fingers warmed and used to playing the keyboard
  3. Triggers the creativity that is sat latent in my mind, allowing it to reveal itself in new melodies, rhythms and chords.
  4. Shifts my mindset. Stops me thinking about the items  on my ‘to do’ list, and focuses me in both a musical and creative way.


  • I put my running kit on to motivate me for exercise.
  • I play scales for 15minutes when I feel like creating.

Rituals get you in the mood. Try and think about the rituals you have and share them with us below. 

Click here to check Paul’s video tutorials for Mixmag


What do you think?

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