I’m just sitting there waiting for a ship notice, hence the guilt. I could be making music but feel I need the “new thing”
Ohh sorry I misread! Hmmm. That is a tough one.
Post updated for clarity, thank you.
But Mimeophon. (and 20)
I think there are sensible times to take breaks between known system changes. I’d say it’s better not to, but that definitely happens to me.
I think I definitely feel some guilt if I go long periods of time without creating something. I think maybe that’s tied to some kind internal mental pressure. I’ll go through stretches where I’ll come home from work and decide to use my free time on something like watching TV or playing video games, instead of doing something creative. And I’ll feel a feeling of guilt for that, even though there’s nothing wrong with it.
I think there’s some pressure from social media and stuff like that too. Like, if I don’t have an Instagram post this week, or a YouTube video this month, I’ll probably just be forgotten. If I’m not outputting content, I’m not being productive. Which is such a weird way to think.
I don’t feel too much guilt if it goes the other way and I’m spending all of my time on creative pursuits. But I don’t really have many obligations outside of work, I think it would be different if I did. Even then, the people I tend to have relationships and friendships with are usually some kind of creative type, so I think they understand that feeling of having a fruitful creative period.
All that said, it’s been especially weird over the last 2 months. I kind of felt burnt out on making music and it’s like the creative part of my brain shut down. I decided to try to make the most out of it (instead of feeling down and guilty) and try to be productive in other parts of my life. Like starting to work out again, cooking meals at home, reading more, and improving parts of my mental health. I’ve still worked on some creative things here and there, but I’m only now getting back into regular creative process. 2 months is such a long time for me, it almost feels like starting over. Remembering how to get in that flow.
Anyways, that was long, but I wanted to get it off my chest.
Some of these types of video’s are very corny, but this one is useful:
This topic also touches on the concept “rat race” be it in creative pursuits, instead of corporate. Comparing your work to other people’s work can leave you in state of perfectionism that is not conducive to creative work.
What exactly do you mean by guilt though? Do you feel you have to reach a certain ‘level’ of artistry or otherwise, you might have spent your time more productive for others?
Perfectionism can damage the love for the art. It can also lead to controling behavior, not allowing the creative flow to do what he/she does.
It is important to weigh your choices though when it comes to working on personal growth through a hobby or artistic pursuits. That comes back to balance imho, like others mentioned.
excellent point, here. fallow periods are often just as important as visibly fruitful ones. (but sometimes it’s tricky to judge between fallow and completely stalled-out)
So this is something I’ve been tormented by as a musician pretty much since I started taking things seriously twelve years ago when I was 15. In tandem with a lot of current issues in my life this point of resistance has been particularly prominent as I can’t seem to make anything out of mindful will with only muscle memory noodling ever yielding anything of value.
Yesterday I discovered the ever-ambient Lightbath has a creativity mentorship video series and found that this particular clip is of relevance:
Hopefully some of you may find the series illuminating as it’s slowly spurring me to rethink things.
The bit that resonates with me here is on burnout. Burnout and guilt are very different.
It’s hard to determine whether letting up on yourself equates to an unhealthy ease in discipline or a healthy easing of unrealistic expectations.
I can sympathize with managing an audience via social media as well. If you expect yourself to make stuff for an audience on the regular, it can feel weird when you don’t keep to that. But we all need breaks from things.
But it gets more complicated still when you can find enjoyment in something you ostensibly do because it is important to you.
It sounds like in your case you’re takes time away to improve yourself. That sounds even harder than just keeping on keeping on.
And again, welcome back.
Many times over I wonder if my creative pursuits are justified when there are so many other things I could be involved in. Up until recently, I was a volunteer guardian ad litem, which essentially is a court appointed advocate for children in protective care. The great thing as a volunteer is that you only get one case at a time so you don’t drown in case loads. I took a break from new cases after having a kid and taking a new job over the winter.
Recently, while recording sessions in the free time I do have, I feel an immense sense of guilt in that I have found time for this hobby, but not to do more impactful things with said time.
I hope as the day job work load lessens, and when my family obligations allow for it, I have the willpower to take on more social justice outreach. But for now, I deal with the guilt like any Catholic would, Ipent it up to the point of scrupulosity. But oddly enough it’s the music writing process, the thing which my guilt stemmed from initially, that helps provide some catharsis.
I can really relate to this. The feeling that I’m not being “impactful” with my time, and that music making making feels self indulgent.
I was also a Catholic once upon a time, and it left a pretty deep groove in my brain. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing though. I credit that religion with promoting some forms of social responsibility (inconsistently) wherever it has influence. Maybe guilt is not the worst thing in every instance either.
Companionably is a good adverb.
When I was in college I’d write two songs a week and play them live a weekend later. Mostly shit, but I enjoyed it. Now I write one song a season, refine it over six months or longer, record it but don’t finish all the parts, then somehow I move on to another song.
Well, my friends like them, so that’s something. Eventually I might share some here, but probably not,
Honestly I wish I could quit it.
I can relate to this. Spending time lusting over the thing that’s on the way, which will make the case what it’s supposed to be only to find yourself anticipating the next arrival that will make your case what it’s supposed to be, even though the previous thing is already in the case, and that means it’s already what it’s supposed to be, or if you want to be honest the case has always been what it is.
I can definitly relate to this!
One tip is to unsubscribe to any companies newsletter.
Also, and this is something I am recently trying to do:
If you are going to consume online music related video content:
Watch less Youtube and more Vimeo.
If I spend one hour watching Youtube I have the feeling of wanting to buy something.
If I spend one hour watching Vimeo I have the feeling og wanting to create something.
That is a BIG difference!
Guilt is complex and in my experience, extremely detrimental to creativity. A few things that have helped me with this over the years:
Counseling. If I had the money I’d have a session every week, but as it stands I usually just do a few a year as “top ups” unless I (or we - my wife and I) are stuck on something. Music does come up in these sessions and I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have a non biased / non involved / professionally trained mind to bounce your feelings off of to really put them in perspective and give you tools to examine your actual fears and root causes.
Recognizing your habits and rhythm. For instance, I’ve learned that I don’t produce in the summer months - I’m just too busy with … summer, festivals, family etc. I used to beat myself up every summer about this, but now that I’ve accepted it I plan around it - ie: if I get asked to remix something in June I’ll say that I won’t be able to start until September. I may still start it, but understanding that my summer months are not my creative months allows me to embrace that and live my summer months relatively guilt free. This Sarah Blondin meditation “Learning to Honor Our Rhythms And Cycles” really helped (helps) me with this practice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFBX1S-ACuk
Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear” has also been immeasurably helpful in my creative path - specifically with the idea of not attaching monetary pressure or social validation to your art. I re-read this book often and recommend it constantly to other artists I meet. Most contact me later to thank me. It is simple and powerful.
Coming back around to counseling, recently my music time / effort / etc was causing friction between my wife and I - and not for the first time. We set up an appointment to talk it out with our counselor, and while my wife was telling our counselor how much we arrange and plan our live around my music and I was sitting there being defensive and giving examples of other things we plan our life around that aren’t my music, the counselor just said: ok, Trevor, what about if you just actually owned this and started saying (I paraphrase) “My music is part of who I am, it’s a necessity to my being and I am so grateful to have a wife that is willing to plan and arrange our lives around this part of my being” - basically, ditch the defensiveness and comparisons and just start saying “thank you”. It’s hard to really sum up here, but it was and has been a ground breaking shift in our relationship with my music.
Hope some of his helps, I’ve really enjoyed this thread. Cheers.
Every day! I bartend fulltime and have about 3 other side projects that steal a lot of my creative time. I beat myself up for about 2 years in this mindset, but found that if at the beginning of a week…make a list of three creative things to do that week, 1 of the 3 is sitting down and writing music, or even just zoning out with created sounds. It helped focus a ‘me time’ and became really fulfilling.
Not sure if that way is helpful, and also, setting aside time can maybe feel too structured for creativity, but it’s helped me with creating. Basically it’s just throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks, some does, some doesn’t.
yeah, this is something that is super close to home. it does sometimes feel self indulgent – creating peaceful / serene music can feel weird sometimes in terms of the state of the world. sometimes it feels like a super obnoxious display of privilege. though one could argue this is the perfect way to navigate these times and that’s the kind of thing one should put into the world. if i find my self in a creative slump it can lead to feeling lazy/guilty/depressed. being creative is directly tied with my mental well being so when there are dry spells, psychological or circumstantial, it is not good. then there is the family/work/creativity balance. i often feel antsy when doing family stuff if i have not done something creative in a while. i feel horribly guilty when this happens. though i also think it is important to demonstrate to my kid that you can have a creative life in addition to work and family. so yeah it’s a complicated mess…
When one genuinely feels it and expresses it, gratitude works minor/major miracles, both internally and externally. It harmoniously connects us to our better selves and to each other.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, or just annoyed, by guilt, consider for what and to whom gratitude could be expressed. Gratitude blows away the demons.
I do this somewhat in reverse. I have a notebook in which I keep freeform notes about creativity, write down patch ideas, “postmortem” various sessions and projects and lessons I’ve learned (always let a recording sit for 24 hours before listening back to it).
Even if I lack the mental energy or inspiration for actual music creation, I can always pull out the notebook.
20 characters of DING DING DING DING