Creative Anxiety


#1

This is something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you here for quite a long time, but I didn’t really have the words…now that I have a newborn baby in my life and my music time will be much much more restricted (and maybe creativity and efficiency will peak because of that) I am at a turn point and I think it’s time to open up myself even more.

To put it simply: I have a constant need of putting out songs with videos on my youtube channel, it’s like I need to show the world I am great at this. I call it anxiety, creative anxiety, because I have a constant need to create, to learn and then show everyone.

The point here is that quite often I am not playing for myself but just to show others how good I am…that’s why I am getting closer to modular synthesis and meditation…but…I will have to publish at least a youtube video every month until I am cured.

Does anyone know what I am talking about? Do you feel self-pressured to create and share your talent with the rest of the world? Is this causing you stress?

I am very interested in knowing if you ever felt like this and how did you manage.

By the way, please come to my Youtube channel and subscribe!!!

Thanks,
Elephant Kid


#2

do you have a link for your youtube channel so we can all see how great you are at this?

i create a lot as well. and i do have anxiety/fear. i do feel a strong sense of responsibility to put stuff out and to share as i feel a voice inside that feels like my strongest communication potential.

i don’t however feel the largest aspect of showing anybody anything and i do attempt to avoid ego boost attempts. and i love the anonymity of my work.

so i think i can connect to what you are saying. but my creative drive presents more as a means to/ desire/spark to communicate/unravel than a need to show the rest of the world anything. i just don’t think the world is paying too close attention to much of anything other than themselves atm (for the most part). so i don’t put any stock with anybody seeing anything but i love putting work out there i feel good about.

meditation is definitely a great exercise. related to this topic or anything or nothing at all. i’ve been making drones on my limited modular that i ‘om’ along to and it’s been a good little spurt in needed time of healing that as of yet hasn’t included much actual healing.


#3

This really resonates with me. I can’t write “songs” very well (/comfortably) right now, but I can set up and make drones that satisfy my soul and help me focus. Just trying to be patient with myself and slowly work my way toward the output that I want.


#4

I think this is not necessarily a bad problem to have. In my opinion, most artists want to communicate their ideas to an audience, even if it’s just to share with their friends and family. Also, the reality is that if you ever want to be “successful” as a musician, you need to be somewhat shameless in your self promotion.

Obviously you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it, and just releasing music out of a desperate need for approval doesn’t seem very healthy, but a little bit of stress can be a good motivating factor. A lot of people would never get anything done if they never felt stress. It might be a matter of changing your perspective from “I need to release something so everyone knows how talented I am” to “I have something genuinely positive to contribute to the world and people are appreciative and inspired by my talents so I might as well release it rather than hold back.”

Many (including myself) have the opposite problem, where we never finish or share anything due to some combination of fear, self doubt and apathy. I don’t feel particularly bad about it these days, because making music for myself makes me happy (which somewhat contradicts my earlier statement about needing an audience), and I feel there is so much “content” out there that I don’t necessarily need to contribute unless I have a really unique idea, but if you’re driven to share your gifts with the world I say go for it and don’t feel bad about it.


#5

I feel the pressure to create - but not in the way you describe. It is like there is a need that builds up until I find an outlet. If I am not able to make music, I end up having to write something or take photos or draw / doodle something. For 20 odd years I didn’t share anything I made, it was just something I did for me, but I started putting stuff on Soundcloud as a means of documenting my learning process on the modular. Then came Naviar Haiku and Disquiet- which are much more goal-led and massively boosted my creativity, and releasing what you have done is an inherent part of their ethos. I have come to learn that whether something is ‘good’ or not is ultimately a subjective opinion, and opinions vary widely. All work finds its own audience - if a piece is liked by someone other than me, that is great, but it isn’t why I create.

That’s not to say I don’t take pride in what I do - far from it, although Soundcloud is my scratchpad where most ideas appear, I also release albums occasionally on Bandcamp. These are where I have worked out a narrative structure for a set of tracks, where I feel there is some sense of a journey or a thought process, and I take time to get them coherent and ‘just so’. A number of people have been very supportive over the years, and some people do genuinely seem to enjoy the music, so I will continue to share it.
I seek neither validation nor fame, the music making fulfils a different need for me - but as long as there is an audience I will continue to share it. Consider Bian Eno’s advice to his 20 year old self - “Put out as much as you can. It doesn’t do anything sitting on a shelf.”

I hope you can learn to let go of the stress of your creativity somewhat (enough to be less stressed, not enough to lose the impetus!) and wish you all the best!


#6

I don’t really feel the need to prove myself to other people, but I have occasionally felt a need to seek external validation for myself. And that usually leads to pain, because as @dude says, mostly people are paying attention to themselves. Or my way of saying it: nobody cares about a creative work as its creator does.

I felt, for a while, like I shouldn’t have a high opinion of my own work – because how will I know that I’m not just fooling myself, and how will I ever improve? Maybe I have no taste as both a creator and a listener. :thinking: But I am more confident about that now, though legions of fans and critics have as yet failed to heap accolades on me :grinning: I am my own biggest fan, and that’s okay.

I’d say, if you have people who enjoy your stuff and a drive to keep creating things for them, that’s great! But hopefully it’s an enjoyable process rather than something that feels like a burden.


#7

The good news is that you’re getting stuff out there. I have the reverse anxiety unfortunately.

It seems like you just need a little tweak, instead of showing others how good you are, show them instead what you’ve discovered and what you really want to share with them. Like a beautiful pebble you found somewhere on the beach that you just absolutely must show to everyone. It goes to Agnes Martin’s idea about not taking credit. Perhaps that’s just a slight change in attitude, not any kind of major shift in your process.

Don’t knock productivity. You’ll maybe look back someday and see these as the good times.


#8

I buried my mom a few weeks ago…

Nothing lasts…

The sun will burn out and even Bach will be forgotten as if he never existed at all…

All that we have is this present moment…

If making music brings you joy or meaning or community or fun or meditation or anything else that is beautiful or good or whatever you need to keep going and not off yourself, do it…

Worrying about what other people think is just a black hole as far as I can see… what do they know about your personal connection to the universe?

Enjoy
And share
Because humans share
That’s a big part of what we do…


#9

[quote=“dude, post:2, topic:17399”]
do you have a link for your youtube channel so we can all see how great you are at this?
[/quote] yes, link is in my profile description


#10

I am happy that you are able to use your music just for yourself. I used to be able to do that when I was learning guitar and now that I am learning modular…still I need to communicate formally through my youtube channel and prove myself.

I definitely have a great need to communicate myself, to be heard and be accepted…I know this is toxic behavior and I am eager to free myself from this pressure


#11

Well…I have to admit that in many occasiona I put out a song or a video too quickly on my youtube channel only to delete it after a few minutes and got back to work on it…now I am using Soundcloud as a sketch-book and try to release only what I believe is really good


#12

Your needs are deeply human…

Don’t beat yourself up!

More joy, less anxiety :eye:


#13

I have a pet theory that for me social media put that selfsame worm in my brain. I also felt like I wasn’t releasing enough stuff, or being productive enough as a musician, which I think is an easy feeling to have when gazing deep into the firehose. For me, not using social media anymore seems to have fixed it. I have more time to be neurotic about other things now, but I think I’m OK again with spending a year on something with potentially nothing to show for it in the end, if I think it’s something worth doing… I didn’t even notice it until it felt like the “pressure” was off for a while. YMMV of course!


#14

Man this is so intense. I am sorry about your wife and I feel for you and your words. Everything passes and we have to live in the moment. It’s so easy that is difficult


#15

Last song I released is called “Pebbles”


#16

It sounds like you’d be happier if you slowed down your output and created more without the pressure of needing to show it immediately. You could then curate and release only the things that you’ve lived with for a while and will be more proud of in the long run.


#17

Congratulations! I definitely admire you! We should throw our cellphones away as well!


#18

I am forcing myself to do that. You know I wrote a few books and that’s exactly what you have to do.


#19

I’m easy prey for this stuff. The smartphone had to go, too. I do believe if you have more willpower than I do, it’s possible to moderate all this. I can’t.


#20

Congrats on the baby! I can definitely relate to this part as I have a 1 year (16mo) old and now a 2nd boy due at the end of December. It is really difficult to find time for creating music, especially when you toss in demanding job. When I do find the time, it’s often at a late enough hour that even if coffee is keeping my body awake, the brain is virtually flat lined.

I can relate to the same stress and anxiety, but I think mine comes from two different places.
The first is, if I’m not able to create music, and to some degree get the ideas out of my head, I become very irritable and oversensitive and stressed. Thankfully though it’s something I just have to do for myself… the ideas don’t have to be albums, or even recordings - I just need to sit down and make noise and explore the thoughts that come into my head at the times that I’m least capable of acting on them.

The second place is, I used to be quite active and known in the modular community, particular youtube demo videos, early on. When I took a more demanding job and saw other folks start making quality videos, I was happy to take a step back from doing them. Now that the community/scene is larger than ever, I’m somewhat sad that I didn’t keep up with it and that I’m now somewhat irrelevant. And I’d love to get back to making them - I always enjoyed the help they brought, and the feedback I received from people, but it’s so difficult to find the time… especially the time to produce something of high production value.

I think I can be honest enough with myself and say that, particularly with the youtube videos, or possibly even with any album releases, part of it is driven by a desire for validation. It’s not that I feel the need to prove that I’m good at it, but very much that I’d love to feel validated about how I feel about the work. I almost have zero confidence until someone says “this is great!”, and it’s that feeling that inspires me to want to share more.