(yes this picture is completely random)
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that all artists go through periods of decreased productivity. Some people call this artist’s block, others just don’t work as hard as they’d like. But we all at some point or another hit a point where we recognize that things just aren’t going as smoothly as we’d like. The ideas aren’t FLOWING the way they should.
Early on when I was making music, this was a frustrating and almost frightful experience. It produced self-doubts and feelings of inadequacy, like maybe I wasn’t meant to be writing music and should just quit. In fact it was a long running joke with a good friend of mine that every 6 months or so I’d start getting the urge to sell all my studio gear and just get a nice acoustic guitar instead. At least then I wouldn’t feel like I had to be writing songs all the time, or wasting all this nice gear I have.
But over time, (and through conversations with many other musicians) I began to realize that these sort of feelings are normal, and for me at least, they occur fairly regularly. I typically go through 2-3 really creative and long-term bursts of music making each year, and then go through another period where I just am flat out of either ideas or inspiration to create. If you can’t tell yet, right now I’m in one those later periods. Still keeping busy with music and being productive, but I’m just not feeling it like when the ideas are pouring forth effortlessly.
I’ve learned to just roll with it though, to focus on other aspects of my life and if I wait long enough, sooner or later that urge to create will return.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, because for me that URGE is always there. I always feel the need to create something, be it music, a drawing, a painting, building something, whatever. The desire is the same, it’s only how I channel the outlet of that energy that defines the outcome. But here’s the thing, for me at least, the urge doesn’t always go hand in hand with an idea. It’s easy to get that itch to make music and sit down at my gear in the studio, but if an idea to back that urge up isn’t present, I know I’m just wasting my time.
Some people are lucky and can just push through that, doing something enough times even when they aren’t feeling it eventually leads to a worthwhile result. But in my case, I know that attempting to work this way only leads to more frustration and self-doubt, and it becomes a never ending spiral of creating nothing worth keeping. And while I’ve accepted that this is normal for how I like to create, it never honestly becomes easier. It’s still a waiting game, a feeling of knowing that something big is right around the corner, I just don’t know what it is or when it’s coming.
Now, I know this might come cross as whiny, or self-centered complaining, but that’s really not my purpose (though it IS nice to vent I admit). Rather it’s a reminder to myself and other musicians out there that if you keep your head high and stick with it, the ideas WILL flow again. Every one of these lulls in my creativity is ultimately followed by a beautiful period where I’m able to create at an almost magical pace, I just need to have the patience and positive outlook to see it through to that point.
Some people are gifted with the ability to create at will, to turn that spark on or off as they see fit. For the rest of us though, it’s the struggle to get to those moments that defines why we do what we do. We just need to have the foresight to remember that it can take longer than we’d like, but it’s always worth it in the end.