Do you keep a diary? Not the kind that reads about Jenny from gym class or Johnny from math, but the kind that will inevitably help you grow at an insane pace as an engineer, producer, or musician. There are so many reasons why you should start keeping a journal of your work, but here are a few that I like to remember:
1. Writing down or recalling your work after the fact helps you to make more intentional decisions in the future. If you keep adding reverb to your vocal, but never question why you made the decisions you did, you’ll just continue to add the same reverb every time. By writing in a journal something like “I added a plate reverb because I wanted the tail of the reverb to ring out in this way, and I set the decay time to 2.5 seconds for a medium-long reverb,” you’ll start to realize why you’re making certain decisions and how you can make better decisions next time.
2. You’ll start to build your own personal guide book to getting the sounds you like. Let’s say that you’re working on a track and you get a killer electric guitar tone with an amp model. If you don’t reflect on this and write it down, chances are that the next time you want a similar sound, you’ll have a pretty difficult time achieving it. If you start taking screenshots, adding them to your journal, and taking notes on what the sound is like, you’ll literally be building your own searchable database for sounds that you like in your productions. This can really help speed up the process when you know what you’re looking for and are having a tough time getting it right.
3. You’ll never make the same mistake twice! Let’s say you go through a mix and bounce it down for a client. Two days later, your client calls you and says that the kick drum is way too loud and he needs a new copy in thirty minutes to send to mastering. Write it down! Even though you feel that the kick drum is just the right volume in the mix, this client likes his kick drums tucked in pretty far and not too loud. As you start to build these profiles and take notes on what certain clients want, as well as what certain genres require, you’ll be able to review your notes before working with a client and deliver exactly what they’re looking for.
So what are the best ways to keep your journal? Well, here’s how I like to do it:
Use software like Evernote (evernote.com) to keep track of what’s what. By creating a “notebook” in the app and creating notes on different topics (possibly a note for a particular client, a note for a particular sound, etc.), you’ll be building your very own searchable database/notebook.
So try it out – after a while, I’m sure you’ll see a lot of growth in your skills!