Once you get to the point where you’ve really put some hard work into a song, you’ll get to a point where you might have something rather…large. When you’ve worked hard on a big idea, it can sometimes feel like it is “beyond you”.
It's like you almost “aren’t good enough” to work on songs that you wrote in the first place. It feels overwhelming because you're judging a work of art that took you months to write, as if you should be able to do something just as good today (not in months of work).
If this is you, then today is your lucky day because…
…you’ve just had your feelings VALIDATED! Bam! How’s that feel? Well, I guess we’ve only started, so it might not be too exciting yet. Let’s get moving.
As a human, it can be ever so tempting to try and pretend that you can actually stand still in your life, but with my incredibly clever analogy coming up you’re about to get burned if you thought you could keep that preconceived notion in your head.
Imagine your muscles. Are you able to just sit on a couch, for 24 hours a day, not exercising or stretching your muscles at all, without having your muscles atrophy? Of course not. You can’t just say “Oh yeah, I’ve worked my muscles out so I can now bench press 200lbs, if I just sit here for a year I’m sure my muscles won’t lose any strength and I’ll be able to do the same thing a year from now”.
You won’t be able to.
If you did that, you’d become incredibly weak and would probably need some sort of muscle rehabilitation to become strong again. That’s because:
Doing nothing = moving backwards.
If you want your muscles to stay strong, you have to continually work them out and move forward.
You’re either moving forwards, or backwards, and the same thing applies to writing music. If you aren’t writing, then you’re getting weaker.
This can create a bit of a sticky feeling inside, and can make some of your music feel “untouchable” if you haven’t done it for a while.
I know I’ve experienced this many times in my life, and it always correlates with my laziness. The more lazy I’ve been (and less self-disciplined), the more I feel stuck.
It can make me think things like “I've already written the best stuff I will ever write, what’s the point?”.
I might even think the exact opposite: “everything I’ve written in my life sucks, so why bother moving forward?”
People who work on music everyday though, don’t have time to think such self-destructive thoughts; they’re too busy writing music and expressing themselves that way to care about whether it’s good or not. It’s a good place to be.
Get unstuck by writing everyday.
It only makes sense that if you have a greater understanding of your music, you’d be able to manipulate it more confidently. You’d also feel confident about knowing which parts are great, so you’d know not to change them.
Once again, regular writing is the way to make this happen. If you don’t want to write everyday, just make sure that you’re doing it X times per week.
So how long do you need to write for this to be effective?
Even 10 focused minutes will make a big difference in your writing. Chances are you’ll get yourself on a roll, and will want to work longer than that.
The point is, even the most uninspired person can force themselves to pick up an instrument for 10 minutes. And if you really like music, it’s likely that once you’ve conquered all your inner ego issues about writing (you did that by picking up your instrument and intentionally being creative), you’ll actually start enjoying yourself. Imagine that eh?
If you don’t remember, the story is about a footrace between a Tortoise (real slow) and a Hare/Rabbit (real fast).
In the race, the Hare (real fast) is miles ahead of the Tortoise. In fact, he’s so far ahead that he stops to take a nap right before the finish line. Meanwhile, the Tortoise overtakes the Hare while he’s sleeping, because even though the Tortoise is slow, he’s quite steady and does everything one step at a time.
Of course you know the ending, the Tortoise (real slow) wins because the Hare (real fast) had his pants down when he should have been racing.
I want you to be that Tortoise, because if you do 10 minutes a day (one step at a time), that adds up to 60 hours a year, which isn’t too shabby.
How many times have you had intense inspiration, worked for maybe 2-4 hours, and then burned yourself out because you went so hard, and didn’t write again for weeks? Sometimes, those weeks can even stretch into months, and you would have been better off to go for 10 minutes a day.
Slow and steady wins the race, especially in the productivity game. Once you start to feel comfortable with 10 minutes a day (give it a month or two), then you can move forward and start doing longer times (20 minutes a day).
Most important? Do it everyday. Do it for the sake of doing it, so that you stay malleable and creative.
So I leave you with one last, final thought:
“Are you going to make a commitment to working on music everyday?” Ask yourself.
If not, why? Are you chickening out, or are you just not ready? Do you have too many things in your life? Maybe you need to make a sacrifice or two so you can do music?
If 10 minutes is too much time, then do 5 minutes. If that’s too much, do 1 minute. Any amount is a good starting point, and then move up from there.
Just like a muscle.
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.