Starting Over When You Don't Have To
My friend Nate (he and his wife Amber run the spy guitar Americana musical outfit Shiny Shiny Black) told me that his art teacher once told him to come up with 100 ideas for a project. When he had, the teacher told him to throw it out and come up with a new list of 100. He then told Nate to throw out that list and find another 30 which he could actually use.
I have often hung on for dear life to my best ideas because I was worried that they were the best ideas I'd ever have, my last resort.
But creativity is an infinite resource. If you cultivate it you will keep finding more great ideas. That is, so long as you quit hanging on to your great ideas. Your best ideas come when both your hands are free to work on them.
This past Saturday night at Goshen Brewing Company was by most measures (emotional response, financial, excecution, atmosphere) the best solo show I've played. On Sunday it felt great to take a pause on my journey up Music Mountain to enjoy a pretty spectacular view, but I knew I had to leave that scenery behind and start climbing again. I felt compelled to act as if I were starting over.
I have new songs I want to write, new places I'd like to play, and I'm starting a new album in the coming year. I need to keep climbing. I've built up a great set over the past couple years, so what happens if I set out to play an entirely new set by next summer, leaving all my current songs out of it (just for now)? It's daunting, but the birth of a lot of new work depends on a bit of self imposed desperation. Put yourself in the place where you absolutely need new creativity and you'll find it. I've seen it happen enough times to vouch for it.
Desperation breeds innovation. Hard times call for desperate creativity.
The point is, quit robbing the world of your current best work—show it to them! And if you don't? Well then you're probably also robbing them of your next best work that won't get made while your holding on to what you already have.