7 obstacles to Creativity
As a songwriter I spend a lot more time NOT writing than I do being productive and writing great songs. I have made a list of things that seem to always get in my way, that I have to be mindful of in order to do any sort of creative process. I hope this helps you with what you are working on.
"stop doubting yourself, you ARE good at this"
As soon as I start doubting how “good” I am as a writer, I stop writing. I start comparing my work or what I am writing to every GREAT songwriter, author or composer that has ever lived. I often question, AM I EVEN GOOD AT THIS?! STOP. Creativity will come to a screeching halt as soon as you doubt. If you LOVE to write, WRITE. If you love to compose, COMPOSE. If you love to create, CREATE. No one is like you, which means you don’t have to measure yourself based on anyone else.
2. FOCUS (or lack there of)
"Bite off only what you can chew"
Write or work on one very specific idea at one time. When I start working on a song I know that need to write verses, a great chorus, a good hook and a good bridge then my mind starts drifting to how the song will be produced, what the drums, guitars, keyboards will be doing, how a crowd will respond, what the lights will look like when performing this hit song at a concert ALL before writing the first line.
This is a huge obstacle because then you never end up writing that first line. Write one line at a time, take your time, be focused, make that one line GREAT then move on. Let everything else come in time.
"Stop checking your phone, email and getting lost online"
To record ideas, to write down and edit lyrics and to research word meanings, find alternate rhyme schemes etc technology can be great. BUT…..the temptations of social media, some random youtube video, a blog post about creativity, etc are things that will very easily take your focus away from the task at hand.
All the sudden you find you wasted 2 hours watching videos of cats on youtube. If you have the discipline to stay away from all of this, I commend you. If not, consider a pen and notebook to write in. And a simple recording device to record simple ideas.
"It’s better to always hit a base hit than swing for the fences and strike out"
I am a person that performs extremely well under high pressure situations, however when I put myself under the immense pressure of whatever I am working on (the current song) needing to HIT A HOMERUN or write the next HIT SONG. I usually don’t finish. I usually get so frustrated with myself that it’s “not good enough” I scrape all decent ideas in hopes for “perfect ideas”. But if you start with the mindset of, “I am just writing a good song” you can usually finish and sometimes you DO hit a home run. STOP putting so much pressure on yourself.
"Record it, write it down, voice memo it, somehow notate it"
No matter how great the line is or how catchy the melody is you come up with. If you don’t record it and/or write it down. An hour later that idea may be lost forever.
"Inspiration comes when you work at it"
Every once in a while “inspiration” strikes and you write that hit song, that chapter of that book, compose that symphony in only a few minutes. Those times are very few and far between. Typically “inspiration” looks more like doing the work day in and day out perfecting your craft, and being consistent at pushing yourself to write that next line, that next paragraph, or compose that next part of the song, then you come back and change it 100 times until each word or note is tweaked to perfection. Real inspiration usually takes time and real work.
7. THE END
"No matter how bad you think it is, finish the thought or idea".
Countless times I have finished an idea that I wasn’t really “feeling” and even if the song or idea wasn’t the next big hit, i have had those ideas spark another better idea, or even take parts of the “crappy song” that I pulled into another idea for a song that became the perfect bridge or verse. So it’s never wasted effort. Finish what you are currently working on before you walk away. You can thank me later.