I’ve played music for over 20 years and it’s been a big part of my life. It shaped a lot of my childhood, locked away in my room hunched over my guitar until I got that song or solo just right. Later, it enabled me to express myself in a way I wasn’t otherwise comfortable with, letting the sounds I play help say the words I was too timid to say. It was and still is an amazing catalyst for my creativity, self-worth and mental health. But I had a problem, writer’s block.
I’d have the beginnings of a song that I really enjoyed. I enjoyed playing it, I enjoyed taking a break and thinking about the melody in my head. I enjoyed eventually coming back to my guitar and playing it, it felt so natural. My problem was that I didn’t know where to go next. Every time I picked up my guitar to play this piece I’d get stuck in a repetitive, frustrating cycle that was making me start to hate the song that once had so much promise. What’s worse was that the second I thought I may be getting out of this rut, the pressure of not liking what I was creating next drew me right back in, back to where I started. I eventually saved that song and put in in my “work in progress” folder.
That song is still in that “work in progress” folder. I never finished it.
This happened countless times with countless songs that have never seen the light of day. I wonder what would have happened if I had the tools and community to help me through this. I’d have a healthy catalog of songs that I could be proud of. I’d have other artists that I could collaborate with, build a community with. Most of all, I’d have the ability and confidence to help others never have to worry about this problem again.
What I decided to do about it
I forced myself to start showing my work in progress to people. I dove into constructive vulnerability and haven’t looked back. Getting feedback from all different types of audiences has greatly helped me improve my writing and more importantly, it has given me the freedom to let go more often. Sometimes that means to let go of the fear of pleasing everyone, writing for others and not trusting myself. Sometimes it simply means letting go of an idea that’s just not working. Regardless, taking the plunge into this vulnerability has changed the way I write and really changed the way I feel about my writing, which is the most important takeaway I can have.