Happy New Year, Aquarian Weekly readers. I hope it finds you happy and content and optimistic about the year ahead. And if not, well, that’s probably normal. In the midst of all the Facebook and Twitter resolutions posts I was bombarded with, something stood out to me in particular especially from friends in bands, or friends who write or make art.
The idea is simple enough: FOCUS MORE AND CREATE MORE. But in practice, as you may know, it is anything but sometimes. Writer’s block. Art block. Picking up your instrument and just holding it for a few minutes before putting it back down and making a sandwich or something. Pressure to produce gets the best of the best of us, but I’ve got some tips that will hopefully help you. I promise to make this as short and painless as possible…
1. GO THE HELL OUTSIDE. People watch. Eavesdrop. Sit in nature for hours by yourself, whatever you have to do to draw inspiration from the world around you. It’s everywhere, and it’s a gold mine, so pay attention. Maybe you’re in a slump because you haven’t changed out of sweatpants in days and you’re eating stale Cheetos that officially became mouse food months ago.
2. BUY A NOTEBOOK YOU CAN CARRY ON YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. Don’t keep having great ideas at work or at the bar and then realize days later you’ve forgotten them. Write everything down. Take notes when you’re out. If your friends make fun of you, just remind them that their cover of “Free Bird” sounds just like every other cover of “Free Bird.”
3. DON’T FORCE IT. Don’t beat yourself up if you just can’t pull something out of thin air at any given moment. It’s natural and normal to have periods of nothing in between creating material. Brilliance is like a fart. If you have to force it, it’s probably shit.
4. BUT DON’T BE LAZY EITHER. Do things to stimulate yourself. Don’t just wallow in it. Go out, go to a show. Listen to bands that have inspired you in the past, or, better yet, put on the first record that made you want to pursue music (or hey, whatever it is that you do!) and listen to it on repeat for hours. Watch television, watch some movies. Read a book or a magazine. Something will eventually jump out at you.
5. GO THROUGH YOUR OLD MATERIAL. Even the stuff that never got used because you thought it was crappy. Old pieces can always be reworked or recycled. You might surprise yourself. It is important to save everything. Hence, notebooks. I very heavily endorse notebooks.
6. BRAINSTORM WITH YOUR BANDMATES. Call a meeting. Gather everyone and just chill, eat, and bounce ideas off of each other. Not only will this bring you closer together, but once the creative juices start flowing, they will be unstoppable. You know this. That’s why you play together.
7. ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE. Take it to the fans. Find out what they’d be stoked to see or hear more of.
8. CALL SOMEONE WHO WILL REASSURE YOU. Seriously, one of the best things to do when you’re feeling down on yourself and doubting your abilities is just to call someone who will listen to your bullshit, and then sift through it with logic and reason. A best friend, a family member, an old mentor. Pick up the phone. Write the email. It’ll do you so much good. We all need the reassurance sometimes. It’s not something to ever be ashamed of.
9. DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT. Ask yourself what YOU would be stoked to see or hear more of. Step outside of your little box. You’re safe, I promise. Expand your horizons. Stagnancy is a byproduct of boredom. And stagnancy sucks.
10. DON’T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY FOR A LITTLE WHILE IF IT’S SERIOUSLY NOT FUN ANYMORE. We all need breaks sometimes. It’s important to recognize this, and brave to act on it. Sometimes a hiatus is necessary; work on new things. Or don’t, whatever you need to do. Just remember that a fear of failure will always ultimately lead to failure—it is okay to step back and figure shit out. When the pressure becomes unhealthy, shrug it off for a while. Music is forever. It’ll still be here when you’re ready.
I hope these tips can help at least one person at least a little bit. It’s a brand new year, keep doing what you do. You’re doing great.
I’d love to hear from you: thoughts, questions, ideas, input. Like the page on Facebook and contribute! facebook.com/medioxore