I've touched briefly on this in other articles, an artistic vision is a hard thing to pin down, and it differs in what it consists of for everyone. However having a definite end point or goal for the tracks that you are trying to make is always a good idea. So how do we come about this without limiting our creativity? I have a few ideas on this that i'll be sharing with you. However let's look into the reasons as to why having an artistic vision is important.
Firstly, your taste is what causes you to choose certain sounds over others when you are composing a track. Chances are you like a few specific types of moods in your music, be this happy, dark, paranoid, angry, whatever... You may like quite a few and have diverse tastes, thats not a bad thing and of course the more sources of music you can draw inspiration from the better. However for the purposes of producing it's worth sticking to a couple of genres and a couple of moods until you have mastered and are good enough to expand out of these. So in regards to this you should be constantly looking for sounds that fit this mood. If you stick to this then you'll be much more focused as an artist. You'll be able to work towards an end goal rather than just seeing what you can come up with. This will benefit you in ways beyond productivity also, you may develop fans that expect a certain style of music from you, and therefore identify with your music. Once you have people willingly sharing your music with their friends, you are on the path towards success.
So how do we acheive this? Spend the week sampling sounds that are going to fit the charachter of the song you are making and have in mind a specific mood to convey with your music when you sit down to compose on the weekend. Spend some time making sounds that fit into this category. Sample film quotes that fit your ideas. Put all of your sounds into a folder within your project file, or even better than this create a folder of all the sounds that you have created or sampled yourself (that is sounds that have not come from sample CD's) and put this in a familiar location. Organise the samples by date that you created them so that you have a sonic history of everything you've done in terms of sound design and such. Given your specific tastes, these sounds should all resemble each other in the moods they convey.
Everytime you are making a track, you have a bunch of fresh ideas that are unique to you, and represent your tastes. These sounds should fit quite easily into any track you're making since they convey a similar mood, or indeed even the same one. Of course you shouldn't limit yourself to just these sounds, that should go without saying. Further to this, there may be sounds you've created that you simply don't use. That shouldn't be an issue, these can wait until they fit another idea in another project.
After having a few conversations with Ross Deschamps from Zombie Cats, it's become clear to me that this can even be taken a step further. Ross previously produced under the alias Rregula, and he's be at pains to impress upon me that a lot of stuff he would release as Rregula simply won't see the light of day under his new alias. This is because he has a specific artistic vision of what he wants Zombie Cats to be, in terms of the quality and style of the material he puts out. A lot of the stuff he makes, which he says he would have put out as Rregula just doesnt get put out under his new alias.
So there you have it, go into each track you make with a vision of 3what it is you want to make, and prepare some samples and other sounds to boot. And remember that you don't need to put out everything you make., I certainly don't. Have an artistic vision around what you want your music and artist person to be, and this will benefit you from a productivity perspective as well as in helping you market your music.