It’s common for me to feel discouraged about my art, my music career, how I’m growing older and less relevant, and how other artists are clearly surpassing me. Sometimes I just want to quit music. And if you’re a sentient being, you can probably relate.
I have a lot of experience feeling down and doubting myself, so I’ve learned some ways to help me get out of that rut. And I want to share them with you.
Feel the Discouragement
Many people, including myself, skip this step. Being aware of your feelings and then actually feeling them is the first step to managing them.
Suppressing emotions is like trying to hold your breath underwater. You will eventually have to resurface and breathe or else you die. So feel the uncomfortable things without judgment. This gives you power over them.
Write About How You Feel
Writing brings clarity. That’s part of why I’m writing this post, to understand myself.
So journal about how you feel. Write a song about your emotions. Type up your thoughts in a Google Doc and don’t show anyone.
However you choose to do it, try writing about your discouragement and how you want to quit music. It could help lighten the weight in your chest.
Use the 5×5 Method
The 5×5 Method is one of the most encouraging practices I’ve done. I only compare myself to myself, not to other artists. Because comparing my art and career progress with other artists is mostly just discouraging.
The 5×5 Method is when you look at where you were 5 years ago, recognize everything you’ve accomplished since then, and think about how excited 5-years-ago you would be to see where you are now.
Next, you think about where you could be 5 years from now based on how far you’ve come in the past 5 years. So for example, if you have 1,000 more followers today than you did 5 years ago, then you can project you’ll have 1,000 more followers in 5 years (but probably more if you stay consistent).
Compare yourself to your past self. Then project where your future self could be.
Give Yourself Less To Do
It’s possible you feel discouraged because you’re trying to do too much at once. I’ve done this and sometimes still do.
But you’ve got to find your focus as a musician. Then ignore everything else. With a clearer and sharper focus, you can give yourself less to do each day. Then you can focus on consistently creating, even if it’s just one thing a day.
Taking small steps is better than trying to run only to fall down.
Take a Break
In 2014, I took a break from music for about a year and a half. I wasn’t really writing songs. I wasn’t recording anything. I thought I might quit the whole idea of making music my career.
Fortunately, I ended up returning to music. But in hindsight, I needed that hiatus. I needed some rest.
Maybe you could use a hiatus from music, just so you can take a breath before returning to the work. It could be a year, a month, a week, a day, or even just an hour. Let yourself step away from the work to catch your breath and collect your thoughts.
I spent 9-10 years going down a path as a musician that wasn’t working that well. Finally, I got it through my thick skull that something had to change. So I readjusted.
Now, artists hire me to produce their songs. I have more monthly listeners on Spotify than I’ve ever had. My songs have been on TV. And I’m making great progress (for me at least).
When I first started my music career, I didn’t expect to be doing what I do now. But music helps pay the bills, and that means I get to spend a large portion of my day making music.
All because I was willing to change direction. And maybe that’s what you need to do.
Ask yourself this question and answer honestly: if you quit music today, would your life feel less fulfilling? If yes, then you will regret quitting.