Trevor and I have been in the studio, on and off again since the beginning of February. We started off really enthusiastic about the album, putting in long hours to get a good head start on things. The process of recording this album has been a lot easier than our last in a lot of ways; there seems to have been a different grace on our time spent in studio, the ideas flow more easily, and we do have the experience of one album under our belts! Well, we are about 70% done this project and…
We are now hitting the proverbial creative wall.
You know what I’m talking about: that moment of “What the heck are we doing? Is this worth it? I feel brain dead. Sorry, I spaced out…can you play that again?”
We are into the nitty gritty, listening to a bunch of different takes to find the best one, finding Omnisphere sounds, thinking up “ear candy” lines… production-y kinds of things. And it just might suck the life right out of me. It surprisingly takes a lot of brain power (and will power). We have to consciously decide to make the most of our time in the studio (if we decide to go at all).
I love this diagram from the book, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon:
Although we’re not thinking “This sucks and it’s boring”, and I’m hopeful that we won’t be saying “It’s done and it sucks, but not as bad as I thought” by the time all is said and done, I posted this for a laugh. If you’re a creative, you’ve been here. I know I could definitely relate this to any type of big project.
There is something to be said about pushing past that seemingly dry period of the creative process, where you feel like throwing in the towel or you face apathy or fear about the entire project. When you face these feelings of indifference, it is then that you should really press past, because there is something good (or even just OK,) on the other side of the valley. But it builds grit. You will learn. You will get better. If anything, you’ll be less afraid. You’ll be more invested.
We have pushed through many moments in the studio where it felt like we were stuck, and some really innovative, good ideas have come out! We’re still trudging through songs now to listen for what each one needs (I call them tasty treats). It’s hard work, and I don’t love it, but we are making something that we are proud of (even though the ‘level’ of pride fluctuates, haha!) and we are excited to share our new music with the world.
So my encouragement to you is to show up! Keep trying. Hop over the wall. Kick it down. Dig deep. Take a break from your work and then come back to it.
How do you push past the lull in the creative process? Have you ever given up on projects or just settled because it was too hard?