For the past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling cooped up and frustrated. This is partly because I’m on my own time and my default workspace seems to be my room, but also last week I was having a few personal problems and they left me feeling quite down.
This week I am taking measures to make myself feel better; I find that I work better when I feel more stable in my personal life, and now that I can identify what is making me feel down I am doing things that I want to do or that I feel are constructive. As a result, I decided to make a short list of things I do when I feel stuck in a process to make myself feel less stuck;
A Very Idealised List of Tips for When You Feel Stuck in a Process.
1. Identify issues in your routine.
When I plan my own work and don’t have a set timetable I often fall into a pattern of a lethargic, understimulating daily routine. This usually consists of eating poorly, staying up late and watching terrible programmes. In short, a lot of procrastination. I also tend to stay inside and not make plans if I am meant to be working, but this can devolve into an ineffective loop that sends me into a jaded funk.
When said funk starts to rear its ugly head, I take some time to reflect on what I am doing and what could possibly be more constructive, or at least what will make me feel better. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Change things up
If I have been working solidly in one place for a long time, I try to plan another place to work. If that’s just not possible then I try to find time between work to do something I don’t normally do, or something I enjoy. This week I felt really cooped up indoors so I went for walks in town and around my bit in Partick while listening to some music. This may not be strictly work-related, but it meant that I was doing something other than locking myself up and trying to force things to happen.
Any change to a difficult routine, even if it’s just taking a slightly different route during a commute, can be really refreshing and constructive. This isn’t the only change that I found helpful.
3. Be kind to yourself
This week I re-dyed my hair from green to red, and I got myself some new shoes because I needed them. This may not seem like much, and it really isn’t related to songwriting in and of itself, but I felt a lot better after having done that because it felt like it was needing done for a while. Little things can build up over time, and it can feel kind of awful if you just leave them to fester in your head. When I feel down and things just aren’t coming, I think about what small things I can do for myself that would help me out.
As I think I said a couple weeks ago, I went to a horror festival last month, and it gave me a rush I’ve not felt in a while. Looking back I realise it was because I’ve been ignoring horror for a while, and coming back to it felt good. Now I know this, I’ve started watching horror and sci-fi again, and it’s helping me think a lot more clearly. I’m more engaged in what I’m watching and talking about (and it seems to be helping with inspiration for songs!)
4. Find the Thing and immerse yourself
Everyone has a thing, whether it’s a hobby or a piece of art or a place or a concept, that they can talk about for days on end. These things can be a little tricky to find, but once you’ve got them you’ve got them good. I’m really fascinated with censorship and how it works and informs our society, and I can talk about the PMRC more than I feel I should be able to considering it was around before I was born (Note to self, come back to this topic later!).
If you know you have a Thing that you feel passionate about, then immerse yourself in it whenever you can. If you’re not sure if you have one, start with things you like and just swamp yourself in a variety of similar things. You might just find something that gets you really excited. Then see if anything from that inspires you to do the task you’re doing. How can you make your task feel like this Thing? Can you integrate the Thing?
This list is probably a combination of utter nonsense, but these are the things I have had lurking in my mind for the past week. I have not created any new songs or concepts, but I have been listening to a more varied selection of music, and am on the lookout for new things.
I found some older song ideas in one of my old notebooks, so I think I will experiment with them and try to develop something. I’m also looking to collaborate with some of my musical friends (One of whom has a guitar and an accordion… This could be very They Might Be Giants). I’m looking forward to trying something new, and maybe that’s what I need to do to get the gears shifting on My Own Wee Mission!