Being Productive Is Overrated
These are hard times we are living in, when concerts get cancelled, lockdowns prevent us from concerts and live streams seem to be the safest choice. So it’s normal to feel lost once in a while. But trust me—your crisis doesn't define you as an artist. It just means that you are also human.
Being a musician is way more than just being able to read a music sheet, or playing the right note. The pandemic brought me a new challenge, which was to confirm within myself that art is part of who I am, even during rough patches. If you are as critical as I am, you will understand this self-imposed pressure to constantly be productive. Well, during the pandemic that was hard. So for me, it was enlightening to realize that part of the creative process is to sometimes have nothing to say.
I believe that we live to create and create to live. We shouldn't burden ourselves with judgment, because it would kill the joy of the unexpected ideas that lead to art. There are people who organize their lives so that they can predict inspiration. It’s true that practicing and working hard towards our goals is necessary, as talent alone is not enough if you don’t exercise it. But not everyone is comfortable with strict routines. For me, inspiration comes like a rash—I just need to be aware when it’s close. Sometimes this arrives naturally, like a light, but at other times it takes a bit more work and you need to be patient with your piece and with yourself. You ask the idea: "What do you need?" And the answers become clearer when you give them space. Also, it can happen that the idea dies, but the things you discovered while digging unleashed something even bigger that will feed your next project.
All of this came to my mind while I was on a video call with a childhood friend and I told her about my last mini tour, during which I felt like I recovered my essence. It has been a while since I last played live for so many days in a row, in different cities and scenarios. I was hungry for that and it reassured me that this is what I want in life. “It turns out I am a musician after all,” I told her cheerfully. She answered: “Playing live doesn’t make you more of a musician than you already were.” And those words got stuck in my mind. Music is another way of communicating—I speak through the melodies and I cry when a song touches my soul. Maybe that sensitivity is what makes us an artist.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers or write self-help articles, but I want to share this with you. You, who might also feel lost during these changing times, when the uncertainty of being an artist collides with the uncertainty in the world.
Productivity is not everything.
Perseverance and patience will lead the way, if you trust your process.