Being Afraid of Failure Doesn’t Help


This morning I was listening to some of my old music projects from 10 years ago. I think anyone who creates for a living or for themselves gets a little embarrassed going through their old material, and this wasn’t any different.

There’s a video on Youtube of Ira Glass talking about this stage – basically working through the sludge. It’s something you must do before you can create the level of creativity that you really want. Nearly everybody has to go through it.

I think the main difference between now and then is this; my musical output is far greater 7-10 years ago then it is today. Part of it is because I don’t spend as much time on my own music, but another part of it is that I hold back on telling myself that I’m finished or that I always start but never finish. Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing – I was just messing around. Today I have a good understanding of music theory so I think I intentionally avoid trying the obvious and instead go for the painful road of trying to do something new.

That has to stop.

In other words, what used to be an adventure through something unfamiliar and mysterious isn’t so much those things today. Part of the fun was discovering those things by myself – even if others had discovered them centuries ago.

Yet, while I try in vain to make something I think is truly unique, I find that the music I enjoy is written by people who probably don’t really care about those kinds of things. They just made music.

So why not build on top of what’s already there? If it takes polishing 20 rocks to find 1 piece of gold, then you’ve probably got to remove everything that slows down the polishing, including things like:

  • That new plugin you want to try
  • Researching other DAWs
  • Trying to become a complete master of your tools
  • Spending way too much time on that .01% on that vocal part that’s 99.9% there
  • Thinking “Eh, I’ll do that later” all the time and never doing anything
  • Spending time on it only during the weekends, and then maybe not at all

I think if you find yourself feeling like this it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are happy with your piece. If you are it’s probably done, and those other things that keep it from being 100% what you want it to be will probably work themselves out later.

2 thoughts on “Being Afraid of Failure Doesn’t Help”

  1. Thanks for sharing that. I can tell it came from a place of honesty and vulnerability.

    I was just thinking today, I spend more time at LPH than I do actually in Logic. Your last points totally hit home. I need to create more, and study less. Or maybe draw a differentiation between passive study (skimming the boards) and active study (slamming the DAW).

    Rawk on. Subscribe.

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