Have you seen this thing yet?
A bunch of friends posted this article on Facebook. I thought it might just be another list of motivational tips. The type of thing you see ad nauseam, if you're friends with even one "sensitive" person on social media. To my surprise, this article was just the opposite.
To summarize a pretty lengthy rant, it's about the notion that perhaps we don't need to be constantly reminded that we're not doing shit, and maybe it's ok if we aren't doing anything right now. Motivation and inspiration strike at random moments; we're not robots who can drum it up at any given time.
And I agree with this, but I've never really heard that perspective before. Which brings me to the point of this post. As a creative person, I'm not always inspired or motivated. In the past, this band has been pretty productive. I wouldn't say "prolific," but we've put out a steady stream of new material - and the ideas typically pour in quickly. This last year or two has been a bit different. There's definitely been ideas, but where in the past we'd have to cut down the number of songs to fit an LP length, lately there's only been ideas here and there. I'm not frantically running to a pad to jot down a lyric, or recording strange sounds into my iPhone that would eventually morph into a song. Maybe I haven't been inspired. Maybe I'm just too busy with other shit in life that my brain isn't as crowded with weird ideas and sounds lately.
But here's the thing - it's ok. One of the beauties of being an indie artist is that we don't have a record exec breathing down our necks waiting for the next release (cue animated demon holding record contract - muah ha ha). And that's a good thing. Because creativity shouldn't be a job. It's not about meeting deadlines. It's not about putting things out on a set schedule, for financial purposes. That's for pop music; for everything else it should be about enjoyment, enlightenment and inspiration. But that won't stop PR bloggers from constantly yelling "you need more followers!," "you need to be putting out more stuff!," "where's your new stuff, you need more stuff to stay relevant!" blah blah...
The reason I mention all this is because I feel like a lot of music right now feels uninspired. Even some of my favorite artists' music. And I feel a big part of that is because: a) artists generally are insecure and need to put out new material for that constant validation, b) they're on labels with label expectations, and c) well, shit, they need to eat. Anyways, sometimes this works because certain artists are prolific and can crank out good stuff constantly. But for a lot of artists it just seems like they want to keep top of mind, and just release average music so people don't forget about them. (oh, and then there's that 'contract' thing)
With our forthcoming releases, we've had the opportunity to sit with the songs for awhile. Not intentionally, it's just worked out that way. Sometimes we haven't written or listened back to recordings for weeks. And then we have the opportunity to listen to them to make sure they even work at all. And who knows if this has been beneficial. I certainly feel like it has, as I haven't been prouder of new material in awhile. And I have to believe it's because we've waited for inspiration to strike instead of trying to force it out, and given the songs time to breathe, to become more refined.
Which is all to say (as the article harps on), don't always feel like you're not being productive when you don't feel the motivation or inspiration on certain days. Sometimes it's better to wait until you're inspired, til you're truly ready to give it your all. And make something better. Otherwise it's ok to just say, "Fuck it. Netflix binge watch." In the end, it'll be better for all of us.