If you’re anything like me, you love a good plan. You get high off of new stationery. You sit down every Sunday to write out your upcoming week. Starting new projects is a rush: just think of all those bullet points!
For all the amazing, in-depth, go-get-em plans I make, I’m not so good at actually executing them. I think we can all agree: making plans is a lot more fun than finishing them (or sometimes even starting them, if you’re have a particularly bad affliction of Procrastinitis). Actions are so much easier to write down than perform.
I sat down with a good friend of mine the other day to discuss my upcoming music plans: I’m currently working on a small handful of songs to release as an EP. We discussed all the potential to-dos and obstacles… and eventually it all came down just to one thing…
Just do the work.
What use is putting everything in place for a launch when you’ve got nothing to launch? Why would you book a cast when there’s no play? Why was I hellbent on figuring out crowdfunding and mastering and artwork when, technically, I had no music to put to any of it?
The work comes first. The art comes first. Without it, you’ve got nothing.
With social media and the DIY music scene ever-growing, it’s so easy as an artist to trick oneself into thinking that giving off an air of professionalism is the be-all and end-all. I could spend ages finding a photographer to take the perfect pictures of me, I could spend (and have spent!) ages on developing a website and social media presence… but really it all should come secondary to the work. That’s what people are coming for, that’s what they should know you for.
I was, and have been, so swept up with planning and documenting and processing that actually sitting down and making the music always gave me a prickle of that “ooh don’t make me do it” feeling. When I know I’m creating something that’s going to be important to me, I always want to step away. My brain tells me that there’s something much more interesting going down on Instagram… or maybe I should be researching? Maybe I should listen to other people’s music? Maybe I should film a vlog? Sometimes it’s really easy to convince yourself that you’re being productive when you’re taking care of all the little satellites that exist around your project. But by doing this you’re lulling yourself into a false sense of productivity. Oh hey, nice website… where’s the portfolio?
As I said: just do the work.
The easier thing this time is that I have a set-up that’s guaranteed to sit me down regularly: I’m co-producing this record with a friend of mine, and we’ve blocked off every Thursday evening until this piece is done to get together and work. No matter what, come Thursday 6pm, I know that I’m going to be making music for a few hours. And because I have a friend who’s actively involved, I’ve got accountability!
So… what are you avoiding today?