Creative Anxiety


I can empathize. I don’t really feel the need to prove anything, but I do have anxiety around disappearing if I don’t constantly put stuff out into the world (music, writing, art, design, whatever). I feel like 6 months between albums and the world has forgotten that I even exist, even if the number of people listening are tiny to begin with. It doesn’t really have anything to do with recognition, or even having an audience… but more of an existential dread around being forgotten or “left out”…


I’d never really had this problem before until recently. I’ve been releasing music for 6 years now but it’s all been experimental instrumental electronic stuff. But recently I started a new musical project for my more traditional songs and the lyrics I’ve written are almost embarrassingly personal at times. I can’t remember who but some famous songwriter once said that if you’re embarrassed by something you’ve written it means you’ve done your job. I’m definitely going to release it but I’m feeling some trepidation and thus have been procrastinating finishing it.


My support, completely. And also in the same boat. I think I am also doing something that may not immediately be understood. I have hope, but not exactly faith that it will eventually be understood. Knowing myself, I lack the genius of those who have similarly tried to traverse this kind of boundary. Still, I will feel better having made my very minor contribution. Even in a whisper it is possible for something to be named. And I will also have to take what comes. Have to be vulnerable and hold myself open to the blows and the pain. Taking ownership of what I have been given through no conscious will of my own is beyond the difficult. But it does feel so much better when the music comes from a true place, the feeling of music itself being a burden vanishes.


@jamescigler I don’t see the YouTube situation in the same way. The greatest capital you have is the way you’re able to carry a video from beginning to end and to narrate what you’re doing in a clear-cut and interesting way. Not to mention the glimpses of your music we get to hear in the videos. These will never be irrelevant.

I really don’t think flashy cuts or visual FX are needed – I very much enjoyed your videos and prefer them to the ‘new’ style of videos that people are making. So, I’d like to encourage you to get back to it if you at all feel like it, I love your YouTube output. That’s just my two cents.


I think your videos are still the best tutorial-videos that have come out of the eurorack scene to this day. The average production quality has certainly risen, but I don’t think anyone minds the “steady camera on the module”-type thing you were doing. What set your videos apart for me was that they didn’t just look at the functions of a module, but always put it into the context of a modular synth and brought up creative patch ideas that went quite a bit beyond demonstrating the basic functionality. Would love to find a new video of yours on my feed one day :smiley:


I feel you too there re: songs getting embarrassingly personal. I think it’s really hard, and takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable, and I always feel like that I’m entrusting the wider universe to be kind and respectful to my history. Thankfully I’ve found people are overwhelmingly supportive and it also gives deeper meaning to the work, so I’m glad you’re going to release your material <3


Well I hope you will be happy to know I just subscribed to your channel and it will make a difference for me, as I am starting with modular synthesis just now! Don’t feel pressured to put out new stuff…but please do it soon! :slight_smile:


First, thanks to everyone who has shared their perspective here. I’m continually astounded at this community’s ability to put words to feelings I often struggle with, and with such care and respect for everyone involved. Always something to reflect on…

I don’t have much to add beyond what’s already been shared (it all resonates deeply), but one thing I have found interesting of late is my increased awareness of the forms my creative anxieties take in the music itself. In my case, it’s defined by a kind of frantic quality, a restlessness that can feel just as exciting as it can be grating.

Despite the challenges it might present to my practice (and, in a larger sense, my wellbeing), it’s not necessarily a quality I find categorically negative and therefore worth expelling outright. The struggle for me - as always - is to examine those forms of anxiety more closely in my practice and figure out what to harness further.

Oh, one more thing: @jamescigler, your videos have played a huge role in my musical development. I don’t think I could have taken the modular plunge without them.


indeed… the @jamescigler videos are legendary. Engaging and informative and you really get a feel for what the modules can do. I’ve spent countless hours watching them, and I would definitely welcome their return.

regarding ultra-slick production, I think it’s in the musician’s interest to do this in their own work rather than expect it out of the video. but whatever, many approaches can work. my position may be rather extreme … i can’t watch a ted talk for even a few seconds without cringing :wink:


I absolutely fall apart if I go too long (like a couple days) without creating something. It seems to stem from a mingling of a lot of different pressures. I always feel the need to be productive, to move the needle forward on projects I’ve committed to. There’s also that welling up that I’m hearing other people describing - a need for an expressive outlet, which sometimes feels like a compulsion and, other times, therapy. Music is also one of the places where I find the most joy in life and so I’m just drawn to spending as much time as I can exploring it. And as I’ve built an audience over the years there’s grown the added pressure of wanting to stay active, even needing to stay active after it became my full time thing.

The issue of validation is a tricky layer on top of all that. Few humans are immune to feeling good that other humans think we did something good, and I think there are positive and negative sides to it. Sharing some kind of value with another person is always great, whether it’s enjoyment, connection, inspiration… Chasing an ever-increasing number of likes and comments and views is, as far as I can tell, just a path to more anxiety.

In recent years I’ve realized that it’s very important for me to know the why behind my creative processes. And it’s different from day to day and from project to project - for instance, am I creating for myself, for a client, for my audience or a certain subset of that audience? Am I just going to play and explore today or am I editing, polishing, refining, committing to certain ideas? Am I releasing something to share, inspire, educate, impress, provoke, promote? Being aware of my motives lets me set aside a lot of the anxiety and be able to just enjoy the journey, with purpose.

I’m also going to jump on the @jamescigler support train! Your videos provide a deep level of education while staying musical and creative. If you find time to make more I would be excited to watch them! I might be in that new school of slicker synth videos but I think they serve an entirely different purpose, and certainly don’t replace the kind of insight that yours provided.


@andrewhuang Man you’ve been such an inspiration for me, I watched all your videos and I would pay for you to just have a look at my youtube channel and give me a feedback! I suppose this is a need for validation from one of my best youtubbers ever…to give you another example, I wrote a rap song about Stephen King’s novels thinking that one day he will be hearing it…well, that’s another story. The thing here for me is that hearing that even a succesful youtubber like you has anxiety over his work is humbling, that really means we are all on the same ship here and we just need to take it easy and enjoy the trip. Just like another member said “even Bach will be forgotten” (!).

I really think the point with music and life in general is being able to enjoy what you do while you are doing it…and I am sure that all of us will get the gratification we deserve in the end (and if it comes from within ourselves it will maybe last longer). It sounds corny, but I do believe that if you do it for yourself first you will be sincere enough to be appreciated by the rest of the world.

Sorry Andrew I got carried away…please keep up with the good work and don’t ever think about stopping with your channel!

A raving fan


Eno said something to the effect of “I never think about the audience, if I do something that I like, there will be enough people who like it that it’s good enough for me.”

Badly paraphrased but in the right spirit…

I try to remember that…


@josker @x2mirko @WhiteNoise @Olivier @ht73 @andrewhuang :hugs: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Thanks very much!

I agree, I find over and over again that enjoying the process is more important than “achieving” with the results.

And while I’m confident about certain things I create there is always the wondering about what could be better, what could be next… And I think that’s fine. I think the alternative - of not questioning what you make or why - would likely mean a stagnation of ideas and halted growth.

Keep up the work on your YouTube, you clearly have a lot of creative energy and it’s good to feed that part of yourself!


Today’s Diesel Sweeties seems topical. It reflects my current predicament in any event.