Well, we’ve all been at this point. I’m currently here, upon the time of writing this. It’s got me thinking about how Sisyphean the entertainment entire industry is. Constantly feeling like this conversation is happening, over and over:
“I love performing! I just want to play live as much as possible, I love to entertain people”
“I want to be creative, and I want my art to be heard/seen/enjoyed around the world!”
“I want to fund my life with my craft”
To which, life seems to repeatedly say “Oh yeah? Fuck you. Go back where you came from, and give up. Sell your guitar on ebay, and go do something ‘useful’ in society.”
All this, combined with crippling self doubt many of us can experience by putting ourselves out there with our emotions on our sleeve in our performance, and the vulnerability we have to expose to even CREATE the art or entertainment we feel compelled to share….. it can be overwhelming. So, now what? Now what do we do? (and because I’m partly writing this for myself, what the fuck do I do?).
I’ve tried to detach myself from my current situation, and think critically about my most practical outcomes here, and actions to take to see them through.
Outcome 1: Quit.
Come on, we’ve all been here. “Maybe I should just quit, just give up, no one would care anyways”. Here’s my approach to this. I say to myself, what would my life be like if I quit, and would I be happier? What would I even do? In all truth, I think quitting wouldn’t be a bad idea, so long as I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ll be happier with whatever else I might do with my time, other than be in a band, or try to be an entertainer. The problem I personally have, is that I really can’t think of anything else I’d have more fun doing, than grinding through this stupid shit. Masochistic? Sure, but the happiness in one night of entertaining, is worth weeks of second-guessing. This is for me personally, if you really don’t think it’s worth it, then know that it’s OK to quit, just make sure you know you’ll be happier with whatever your next endeavor is, sometimes you won’t know unless you try it. The good thing is, you can always come back to this, never forget that. So maybe not permanently quit, but take a break, get a new perspective, then rejoin the ranks.
Outcome 2: Don’t Quit
Ok yeah, two options, and don’t quit is really broken into some sub categories, because if you choose not to quit, you’re going to have to change something, otherwise you’re entering Einsteins insanity. What can you change if you want to continue?
Option 1: Change your focus.
Are you a singer? Try guitar. Are you a songwriter? Try live performance. Are you a firedancer? Try acrobatics. This are drastic changes, but sometimes that may be the key.
Maybe smaller changes might be appropriate, are you a guitar player? Try bass, are you the lead singer? Try being a background singer, or help another singer write some vocal melodies in another band for a bit. Are you doing aerials on silks? Try straps, or rope routines. Painting? Try pencil, pastels, or any other medium.
In a nutshell, change the focus, either drastically or minimally, to see if you like something more. Don’t be afraid to venture into the unknown, because you won’t know if you like it until you try it, and that’s the truth. Also, you can always go back to your main focus after, if you realize you don’t like the new one. And most the time you never appreciate what you had until it’s gone right?
Option 2: Ask for help
Struggling to find your muse? Your motivation? Yourself? Ask someone you trust for help. There’s no shame in it. You’re already vulnerable with your art, why not dive in a bit more and get someone to help. The trick here though is to ask for help with the intention of saying yes to whatever suggestions they have. If you ask for help, at least try what they have to suggest. But help can come in many different forms, for example “Hey, want to come over and sit silently and draw together?” or “Hey, can you come and give me some feedback on this song?” or even “Hey, can I ask you to come push me to get this project finished, I’m struggling to find the motivation on my own, but I know I want to get it done, and I need an external motivator at the moment.”
Option 3: Get out there
You don’t even have to do what you do creatively, but just go support the scene. Go to art shows, go to see your favorite local bands, go to drop in nights for whatever it is you want to be creative in. This can help restore the motivation, by seeing others be awesome at being creative. I have seen this backfire though, because if you have that “I can never be as good as them” mentality it might work against you, but perhaps bring a friend, and try to talk about all the awesome parts of the night together! Focusing on all the positive here can really help get firing on all cylinders again.
The best part about this option, is that you don’t actually have to do anything other than show up. It might cost a bit of money to get in to the events, but the value in recharging your creative juices is priceless, and worth every penny in my opinion.
Ok so all in all, there’s more options, but when I sat and thought about what might be most effective to recharge my batteries when I’m feeling like quitting, those three options seemed to be the most effective.
What do you do? How do you deal with the “I feel like quitting” vibe? I’d love to hear more, because I may just use those methods myself too! Hope this helps anyone who’s having a rough time in their creative endeavors.