As you all know I am currently in between projects, in that having released my debut EP and three singles, I am now working hard on getting some new music together for you all to hear, as well as putting together some dates and events where you can hear this stuff live, and of course I’ve been generally pushing myself forward in the big scary world of country-pop music. But this ‘limbo’ can be a really tricky time for artists and creatives, and I am certainly no exception to that. I’m happy to be open and honest here and admit to you all that I’ve really struggled in the last few months with finding my creativity and inspiration, and in a world that is dominated by the suits, the money, the fame and the fortune, it can be very easy to quickly become disheartened, disillusioned and unmotivated. I’m so lucky that I have such great family, friends and fellow musicians to support me, as well as the fantastic following that you have all collectively built – yes, you are few right now, but nevertheless the messages of support you send me on here and on my social media platforms mean so much to me and honestly help to keep me going when I start to question what I’m doing!
But there is always a way to keep going and to get that inspiration back, and whilst different things will work for different people, here are some of the tips I’ve used to re-spark my own creativity:
1) Pretty things…
You need to be in the right environment to be truly creative and expressive, and for me that involves surrounding myself with the little things; pretty notebooks, fancy pens and pencils, flowery mugs filled with delicious hot drinks are all just some of the minor details that help create a relaxed and positive atmosphere for me to get into the right mindset to be creative and dig down deep for that yearned-for inspiration!
2) Blue skies, sunny days…
Yes it seems trivial, yes it seems pathetic, but can we all just be honest and accept that the weather totally affects our moods? It cannot be coincidence that summertime sees all the upbeat bangers, whilst wintertime sees all the moody ballads. I struggle so much on the gloomy days to even find the motivation to work, let alone be creative and write. I have tried all sorts of different things to get out of this mindset, from mindfulness to to-do lists and target setting, but nothing has worked to-date. (I am open to suggestions if you have any – message me on my contact page and there’ll be a free mp3 for any ideas that work!) So what I have come to realise is that there is no point pushing yourself. If it ain’t happening, it ain’t happening. Look after yourself, don’t cause yourself what my boyfriend constantly refers to as “unnecessary stress”, and just make the most of the blue skies and sunny days when the creativity and inspiration comes bounding back into your life!
3) Listen to new music from other artists –“good artists copy, the geniuses steal”…
Was it Picasso who first said that good artists copy but great artists steal? Well whoever, they were right! There’s so much pressure now in the music industry to create something new and original, but really, what does that even mean?! Music has been around for centuries, and pop music – for all that it is great and wonderful – is quite predictable and similar, and so restrictive in how many directions you can take it before suddenly it’s no longer mainstream pop anymore. It’s inevitable that some tunes sound similar, it’s inevitable that people use the same chords, and with that said it is TOTALLY ok to take inspiration from other people’s work. That doesn’t mean you directly copy, that means you take an idea that has lit a spark in you and use it as the foundation point for your own original work. Take a lyric, take a chord sequence or rhythm, or even take the general mood of a song, and then put yourself on top of it – you’ll be amazed how quickly something comes together that to you feels exciting, and to the world seems on the surface to be entirely new and you! So listen, listen, listen to new music as much as you can for inspiration and ideas. Below are just a handful of the many artists and albums who have recently inspired some of my latest work!
4) Re-visiting old songs…
Sometimes it takes just doing SOMETHING to get me back into the game, and I’ve recently discovered that by playing through some of my back-catalogue of music (and we’re talking songs that were written 10 years ago!!!), I’m reminded of how much I love songwriting, and how my influences and styles have changed over the years. This is really inspiring! I play old songs, and I play more recent songs, and see all the things I’ve been capable of creating, and even if I don’t suddenly feel the urge to write something new, at least I feel worthy and competant again, and I’m back in the mindset to achieve!
5) Be selfish: if you’re in the flow, don’t let go…!
It’s typical that inspiration, when it does come, comes at the most inconvenient of times. Maybe you’re out and about, maybe you’re mid-conversation, and suddenly scrabbling around for some paper and a pen. And it can feel really irresponsible to drop everything and start writing when it comes on a day when you’ve got jobs and life admin to do, but…WHO CARES!!! If you’re like me, and these light-bulb days happen much less frequently than you’d like, then don’t feel bad about sacking off EVERYTHING ELSE (well, other than food, water, toilet breaks…) when they do occur. If you’re in that zone, stay in it for as long as you can and make the most of it. Use every ounce of those creative juices whilst they’re flowing, so that at least when you go through a ‘dry spell’ again, you’ve got some songs and some demos to work on and edit to tide you over until the next flurry of ideas comes along!
6) My little fluffball Luna…
Ok, she doesn’t actually inspire any lyrics or melodies, but my recently-adopted little fluffball makes me so happy! She keeps me in a positive mood when I’m starting to feel desperate, and she keeps me in a routine and gives me some structure when the days could easily be whiled away… Again, it’s the little things in life and the people around you that all impact your mental wellbeing, and in turn help create a welcoming environment for inspiration to come!
(Yes, she is sitting in my violin case. No, I will not be playing violin on my new EP. I PROMISE you don’t want to hear that…!)
Whatever your methods, whatever your situation, the most important thing I have learned is not to push myself to the point of desperation, exhaustion and anxiety. The music industry is changing year-on-year. There’s an expectation of artists to be constantly releasing and constantly adapting. There are more and more ways to self-release and be independent, so that you’re just one of a billion little fish all swimming in a very, very big ocean, trying to stand out. Maybe any of us that are trying to do this need to have an ounce of crazy within us…? But as the industry expands, so does our knowledge and understanding of mental health, and life is just too short to be overwhelmed with stress, anxiety, fears and worries. Songwriting is about creativity, and creativity is about having fun and being expressive. So whatever you do, however you write, and however you approach the music industry, make sure you look after yourself, make sure you don’t go beyond your limits, and make sure that the way you find your inspiration helps you to fall in love with songwriting over and over again. Because if we don’t love what we’re doing, then what are we doing it for?