My creative musical life has gotten a huge boost very recently–in fact, “Monday of this week” recently! Thus, the following blog post is in honor of it. And if you’re experiencing a slump in your own creativity, I urge you to read this for advice that really helped me get back my creative groove.
Before Monday: I Haz a Musical Sad
It seemed that I was no longer interested in composing music, as I once had been. I had been used to writing tons of piano solos and piano/vocal music every year (at least 15 every year); in recent months, however, it felt like years since I had even sat down to compose. Once, I had done performances for other people, but even those were rare. It was like the desire for my own music had been drained from me, replaced by performing others’ music, as well as not having a ton of time anymore to muse at the keyboard.
I mourned this loss, and it made me downright unsure of my creativity in music anymore. I wondered, “Do I even have “it” anymore, the gift of writing beautiful music? Or has it all been replaced with ‘everyday life’ and random stuff?” Not only that, I feared I had lost the capacity to write beautiful melodies, and had also lost the time to just sit at the keyboard and expand upon them.
Then, I Got Mad
On Sunday, I realized all this. My first instinct was to wallow about in my sadness, and I started to draft a Saturday with the Spark post about “losing my musical mojo” or something like that.
And then, I stopped about halfway through. “Why am I LETTING this happen to my music?” I thought, staring at my writing. I was starting to get ticked off. “What is all this stuff about ‘I used to be good at music?’ Dangit, I want to be good AGAIN. And I can be–it’s just there’s all this CRAP in the way!”
Getting Rid of the Aforementioned “Crap”
So, in a fit of drivenness rather than rage, I systematically removed all the obstacles towards practicing music. Since my keyboard is currently set up in our finished basement, there were a LOT of physical obstacles in the way. I replaced the cold, creaky, too-short keyboard chair with another; I moved the pile of junk that sat boldly in the path to the keyboard; with Dad’s help, we fixed a light on the basement stairs to make it easier (and safer) to go down.
But that still didn’t remove all the mental obstacles. I had a lot of fear about whether I still had “it,” whether I could still write beautiful music. That, I left ’til Monday, and rested the rest of the night.
The next day, I spent most of the day writing, kindasorta avoiding the melody (and part of a little song) that had been twisting and twining between my brain cells for the last month and a half. At last, about 6:00 Monday evening, I set aside what I was writing, and began to fix up the song’s lyrics properly so that they matched the melody–what I had roughed together was okay, but it wasn’t the best.
About 10 minutes later, I took computer and all down to the keyboard, and set up the screen so I could see it from the keyboard. Then, I began to play and sing the song…
And Then, I Haz a Glad
…and it was magic. The song slid from my fingers easily, and I maneuvered the vocal melody just as easily as if I’d been practicing it for days (which, in a way, mentally, I had been). Not only was it prettier than I had imagined, but it was easy to sing, was honest, and…it was good. Much better than I had expected from myself after months of not doing this.
I had been so long out of practice that I had been afraid to try anymore. But I was pleasantly surprised–and very, very happy. I wept at the keyboard–it was like a long-lost friend had finally come home.
Have You Lost “Mojo” for Anything Creative Lately?
(Pardon the Austin Powers reference 😛 ) If you’ve lost the ability or time to be creative due to too much work, illness, etc., then you know the sense of emptiness and loss I was feeling. It really took me getting mad about it and getting fired up enough to change what had been happening, and I think that’s what it takes for any change like this to come about. You have to be dissatisfied with how it’s been going, and know what to change to make it better.
One key, as I found, is to remove all the obstacles towards being creative. If you feel at a loss for writing because you have no space to work, for instance, make a space to work. It might be at a kitchen table or counter, or it might be a cheap folding table in the corner, but make a place for your creativity. For me, the junk pile, the lack of light, and the too-short chair made it easy to make excuses…they had to be changed.
Another key is to make time to be creative. If you allow no time for creative activity, it won’t just happen on its own. If you keep yourself busy, don’t leave the Internet behind for a few hours, or don’t carve out even a teeny bit of time in your commute to just think out a couple of ideas, it won’t happen. I had to leave the Internet behind on Monday afternoon, just long enough that I could draft and play my song…and it was WORTH IT! 😀
The last key? Trust your ability. If you could do it before, you can do it again. You might be a touch out of practice, you might feel a little differently about the process, but if you expel all the doubt and fear from your system, you’ll do fine. At least, that’s what I found out.