Stop Hoarding. Start Writing.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to release first—you just have to release something. It could be four minutes of silence or ten minutes of conversation. It could be a blank white canvas with a red line down the middle. It’s the act of releasing something, anything, that marks the closing of the mental gap between where you think you are artistically and where you ought to be. It is the start of refusing to accept the separation between how you perceive your abilities and where you feel obligated to be in order to be “good enough” to share your art, your music, or your work. There shouldn’t be a separation between you and your favorite artists… they’re people, too. Anyone can make art. Anyone can write music. Anyone can share their work with the world.
For so long I had told myself, “I’ll release this project at some point” or “I’m looking forward to when I’m good enough to release my art, but that isn’t the case right now.” Eventually I became so frustrated with my own perfectionism and indecision that I decided I needed to rewire my mindset to accept the fact that I would never wake up one morning and say, “Okay, now I’m ready.”
More importantly, I realized that when I hoard songs for later, I stop writing songs now.
I used to want to save my best songs for the future, thinking that they would be far more valuable on my debut album someday or after I had already built some sort of audience. I would write a song (that in the moment would feel like my best work yet) and immediately drag it into a mental folder titled “release in the future.” It took some time for me to realize that this habit was toxic to my workflow because keeping my good songs behind closed doors took away my motivation to write even better ones. I’ve realized that no matter what your discipline is, as an artist, it is critically important that you always believe your best work is still ahead of you.
It’s so important to always be of the assumption that you have yet to take your best photographs, write your best poems, and produce your best songs. I have had to overcome the fear that I will be defined by my old work, because I know if I give in to that myth, I’ll become paralyzed and hold onto my art for dear life… if I were to let myself again fall prey to that line of thinking, I’d be focused not on the future, but the past.