The Danger of Losing Your Creative Naïveté
Voice Memos is my go-to app to record song ideas, melodies, lyrics, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind. So needless to say, I have a TON of memos dating back 5+ years. I had another great writing session today that put me in a nostalgic and creative mood. I was listening to the memos from today's session and decided to go back a few years to 2010. I couldn't help but notice the number of voice memos I had from 2010-2012. Everyday I recorded something, and sometimes even multiple times in a day. I recorded melody ideas when I was driving to and from work, lyric ideas, and hours of me playing the piano. I had forgotten how much I was writing on a daily basis. Throughout the years I noticed the number of memos dwindled. One year I recorded less than 10, and over the past few years the number of memos with me banging away on the keys in my studio dropped to zero. So what happened? Something that has crossed my mind but I haven't spent too much time thinking about.
Starting in 2010 I use to post at least one video a month to YouTube. Just me, playing the piano in front of the camera, vocals untuned, and usually I came up with my own song arrangements. I started to grow a small following with my videos, amassing over 10-20k views per video. But I stopped. I haven't done a video since January of this year. What gives?
I've had the pleasure of working with some amazing people over the past few years. I'm writing with people in NYC, Nashville, and Dallas on a weekly basis. I just recorded two new songs in NYC with Warner Chappell's Noise Club. Things are moving along and I couldn't be happier. But now the only time I record a voice memo is in a writing session and maybe on the rare occasion that I can't sleep because I have a melody in my head.
Before I started collaborating it was just me, my thoughts, my keyboard, no pressures, just a little creativity and blissful arrogance. I wasn't as aware of my shortcomings. I just wanted to sing and play. But then I started putting myself out there more, performing with top notch musicians, writing with top notch writers, and I started to become less naive and more aware of what it takes to succeed in this industry. At times it's felt extremely daunting and unattainable.
So now with these new found experiences and exposure you start to feel pressure. You over analyze your writing and realize how much better you need to be. You may realize that your playing isn't up to par and your low quality videos don't stand up to the professional bar that's been set with today's new YouTube generation. You're not as naive anymore, and you put more and more pressure on yourself to be flawless. This is the danger of losing your creative naïveté. You no longer lock yourself in a room and just play or write. Instead, you lock yourself in a room with the pressures of writing a hit song. You stop playing piano because you don't feel good enough, instead, you just hire players. And you stop doing monthly videos because you can't afford to get in the studio and hire a videographer to do monthly covers. Congratulations, you have now completely mind fucked yourself out of growing and becoming your best self. You simply...stop!
So the challenge to myself and to you, my fellow sensitive artists, is to add a little more of that creative naïveté back into your daily routine. I listen to some of these old songs and they were pretty damn good. I've spent more time second guessing myself then just being me and becoming a better musician and writer along the way. It's always a good idea to grow, to work with people who are better than you, but never forget to trust why you're doing music in the first place and the gift that you were given.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest it's time to lock myself in a room and write some music!