When you’re knee deep in the mixing process – especially when you’re the producer, engineer, and artist – things can get pretty messy. It can be very difficult to stay engaged as the process drags on, and it’s far too easy to get discouraged.
That’s why you need to take a break.
The Most Valuable Time Off You Can Take
We usually categorize “time off” as a vacation. Doing whatever you like, being unproductive, and just enjoying your time doing what you love.
That definition doesn’t change much when we talk about taking time off from mixing your project. The only difference is that it is extremely productive. How can time away doing something else (even playing video games) be productive?
This crucial time away from your studio gives you two main things: fresh ears and rejuvenated excitement.
When you’re so invested in a project that you start to know the ins and outs of every single track, it can actually be detrimental to the creative process. This type of intimate knowledge is both good and bad, and it’s important to keep it in check.
With fresh ears, you hear the recording closer to the way anyone else will hear it as they listen for the first, second, and hopefully third time. You hear the most important elements, and it allows you to focus on what really matters.
This is maybe even more important than fresh ears when it comes to mixing. It’s important to be excited about your project.
On almost every project I’ve worked on, I reach a certain point of exhaustion that almost leads me to scrapping the entire project. That’s when I know that I need to take a break.
If I am not excited about the project, I’m never going to have the desire to finish it and make it as great as it can be. And I’m certainly not going to be excited to share it once it’s done. That’s why it’s so important to take time to get excited about it again.
Recognizing When It’s Time To Take A Break
This can be the trickiest part to figure out. When do you take a break? What if you take a break too soon and end up losing creative momentum?
I like to say that it’s time to take a break when you have no more creative direction for where you’re headed with the project. Once you’ve “hit the wall” and don’t know what to do next, it’s time to take a break.
Even if you aren’t happy with the overall mix, it’s a good time to step away from it. Let it sit for a while and come back to it – you’ll more than likely have a handful of great ideas once you come back to it.
Dean Palya Jr is the Director of Digital Media at Westlake Pro and a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in LA. He works with artists of all genres and loves taking a creative vision and turning into reality. When he isn’t producing music or videos about pro audio, he enjoys exploring new places and binge watching Netflix shows. Check out his website here.