Discovering the Fire Within From Outside

If you're going through a low moment right now or have in the past, I feel for you because we all do. I've been through many myself throughout all my years as a turntablist. These kinds of feelings are tough to navigate through and not naturally easy to break out of. However, there are many ways to break the chains of procrastination towards your scratch goals. One such way has very little to do with you personally and very much to do with other people or things.

The answer may seem obvious, but too often we get so caught up in ourselves and what we want to achieve, that we forget to look outside ourselves for inspiration. Sometimes you have to put scratching aside and seek some clarity. Take a moment to reflect on your life and think about all the things that have inspired you to take action. Try not to limit your thinking while doing so. Sources of inspiration come in all shapes and sizes, from watching a master musician live to listening to an amazing, heartfelt speech to taking a scenic tour of a beautiful city and so much more.

Blatantly Indulging in Inspiration

Once you're clear on what outside sources inspire you most, it's time to indulge in them. Forget about forcing yourself to scratch or just sitting around feeling like a stick in the mud. You can give yourself full permission to leave it all behind for now and get completely lost in inspiration.

Think of it Like a Fuel Station

When you're firing on all four cylinders, it's inevitable that you're going to run out of gas eventually. Yet you can't allow yourself to stay on empty or you'll never get what you ultimately want out of scratching. You need to refuel and stay on top of your scratching regularly. Regularly does not mean constantly though. It means finding a balance between your art form and the other things that make life enjoyable to you.

Adding a New Dimension to Your Cuts

A great side benefit to deriving inspiration from other sources beyond yourself is it can get you to think of life differently and how you perceive things. These experiences help shape who you are and who you are will always be reflected in your scratch style.

For example, going on a bold and adventurous hike could lead you to make bolder and more adventurous choices when you scratch. Another experience that can help shape your art might be checking out some abstract paintings. Perhaps your scratching was too straightforward and lacking creativity, but now the paintings you saw have opened your mind to a more exotic style of scratching that really captures your imagination.

Multiple Sources of Inspiration Are Necessary

Be careful not to get too dependent on any one source of inspiration. Doing so could lead to that source becoming watered down and ineffective for you in providing motivation. When you keep a variety of inspirational sources at your fingertips, you'll find that certain things inspire you more at certain times than others. This is great because it means you'll have your bases covered at all times.

You Are Not a Robot

You can't expect to be at peak motivation all the time. Nor can you allow yourself to remain unmotivated regardless of what lead you to feel that way. Sometimes no matter how much you surround yourself with inspiration it just won't be enough.

It will be necessary at times to simply force yourself to take action. This doesn't mean that all that time trying to get motivated was wasted though. The cool thing is once you get going, that inspiration will pour out into your scratching whether you realize it or not. As mentioned earlier, what you surround yourself with becomes a part of who you are and who you are is everything when it comes to expressing yourself with scratching.

Is Your Style Full of Poor Choices?

In scratching there are so many cool and not so cool styles out there. Some are trendy, and although you may not personally enjoy them, it seems as if many are doing everything possible to keep such styles thriving. Like most trends in the world, you'll also likely find that many are following them despite their own personal opinion of it all. On the opposite side of the spectrum you'll have others discounting trends simply because they are trends. What both camps are forgetting, or perhaps not aware of at all, is that in order to truly express yourself with scratching you need to follow what your tastes naturally embrace whether it's trendy or not.

Time Can be Your Worst Enemy

If something doesn't grab you, there's absolutely no reason to force it. Even if it seems like you're the only one that doesn't like it, you must have the courage to stand alone and let it pass you by. Time is precious. If you're spending time learning things you don't like in addition to the things you do, imagine how much more time consuming achieving a high level of it all will be.

The saddest part is eventually you will likely start dropping things anyway, whether it's the good or the bad stuff, simply due to overwhelm. When this happens you could end up losing some of the better parts of your style to make way for things that don't even really fit you well. Now you're even further away from your ideal sound and you will NEVER get all the time you spent back. Not only that, but you also have to work even harder now to rediscover all the things you do like, as well as having to break the habit of scratching in ways you dislike.

So How do You Decipher What's Not Worth Your Effort?

In scratching you have many elements to consider. Technique, genre, tempo, samples used and techniques and styles associated with those samples, as well as many other aspects worth considering. For example, if you don't like Electro or some other genre, don't spend time learning to scratch over it. Yes many have done and continue to do it. Yes many will argue that it's one of the best ways to learn how to scratch fast because of the typically high tempos that electro is known for. However, if you don't like electro than you don't like electro and nothing you do will ever sound convincing over it. Just like if you get zero enjoyment out of listening to Polka music. Why would you spend any amount of time trying to express yourself as a Polka artist?

Tailor Your Development

With all the clutter out of the way you now have way more room to delve deep into the styles you do enjoy. You are a unique individual with your own set of fingerprints and your own combination of life experiences. You will also likely not only enjoy one style of scratching. Thus basing your style on a combination of others will lead to a voice unique to you. Of course there are other aspects that lead to true self expression, but this is a big part of it.

Be Aware of an Untrained Ear

It's important to understand that the less exposure you have to scratching, the less you will be able to decipher various styles and what really stands out for you as one you enjoy. Don't fret though because listening to your gut when glaring dislikes come your way will save you a ton of time. As you continue to develop your ear for scratching, you can keep refining the direction you want to head in and more easily pick apart the undesirable from the desirable.

Some Doors Must Stay Open Before They Close

Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. There may be certain styles that are less than desirable to you, yet contain some potential towards the sound you actually want to craft for yourself. You have to really take a look under the hood and think if it's really worth your time to work on it. If so, be sure to not put more focus than necessary on it and have a goal in mind of bending it toward your own way of doing things so that it makes more sense to your overall style and what you enjoy hearing.

Some Final Words on Uniqueness

Uniqueness does not mean being unique for uniqueness' sake. It simply means finding yourself and highlighting it. As mentioned, your total life experiences do not equal out to anyone else's. It's literally impossible, so you will already naturally sound unique when scratching. All you're really trying to do is go beyond what's natural and be much bolder when expressing yourself. When you're true to yourself the joy is unparalleled, so stop wasting time travelling someone else's journey and take pride in your own.