My blessing and my curse are that I’m an ideas person. The blessing is that I’m able to take a simple idea and develop it into what I believe to be something really cool or unique. In the right setting, with the right people, this has culminated in some really great projects that I’m very proud of. However, this can also be a curse, and you might find me marinating in an idea literally forever. In my head, I will play out every scenario of it; where it will go, what it will become and how it will develop to a million other venues. While that’s cool, it can also be detrimental to an idea. Building something up beyond its current possible capacity makes it overwhelming and can often kill an excellent idea.
I often talk about this with artists who are holding back from sharing their music with the world. Naturally, an artist wants to share only their final product and is less inclined to expose the process and the imperfections of their creative journey. My argument is that they should consider doing the opposite because people embrace authenticity, and are excited to see something being made. They like to have “bragging rights,” and want to associate with what you stand for even before the entire image as an artist has been perfected. People like going backstage, and gaining access to an experience that is different from their day job.
Other artists often like to gain inspiration from their colleague’s work and are thus also happy to see the process rather than just the final product. For example, if you’re writing a book why not share selected paragraphs of it as it’s being edited? That way, you have your fans both giving you feedback and pressuring you to release the full and complete version. I can’t think of a better way to be held accountable. Or if you’re shooting a short documentary, you could release it as short one-minute excerpts of the interview together with shots from behind the scenes. There’s no dragging these projects far past their deadlines without people asking you what’s going on. Sure, it’s scary to release a video of yourself recording vocals for that new single, but now that it’s out there, we all want to hear the song!
I could go on providing more arguments as to why you should just start, but instead consider the following questions: Is art or the creative process ever complete? Do you ever feel pleased with the mix of your track? Are people not constantly borrowing other people’s work and creating derivative works that effectively continue the journey of that original piece?
I believe that while closure is an integral part of the creative process, obsessing over it can lead to endless procrastination. One way that I have found to solve this is by managing each creative cycle with goals and clear-cut deadlines. That way, you can access closure for the creative process by making sure it aligns with your goals and promise you’re moving forward to the next one by being adherent to the deadlines in your schedule. Personally, I have used a combination of platforms such as Asana, Trello and a good old pencil and notebook.
Now. I’m not saying, “whatever, it doesn’t matter just release subpar creations into our world.” What I am suggesting, however, is a strategy and approach to releasing and sharing your work that might set you free. If you have something significant to say and share with the world start by saying it one way, and then say it another way. Then collaborate with someone who adds their ideas to yours and then carry on saying it using any and every creative tool and platform that will amplify your voice.
People like to see the “backstage.” It’s probably one of the reasons reality TV works so well. People like witnessing something being created in front of them, and becoming part of a movement. So you can sit in that studio all day and think of ideas or perfect your craft and keep silent but don’t expect anyone to know what you’re talking about when you’re ready to share it with the world. Alternatively, you could “let us into your studio,” show us who you are and how you do what you do so well, ask for feedback and iterate it with us “in the room.” Then, when you’re ready to share it with the world, we’ll be super impressed, and probably proud of the part we played in the process — so we’ll share with everyone we know! Guess who’s trending now?
I leave you with this: Are you going to sit on the bleachers and watch everyone play? Or, are you going to practice a bit then get on the court and score some points? You choose.