For as long as I can remember, I have always been extremely creative, and I am grateful to have been born with the gift of songwriting, but when I was younger, I took it for granted (which I regret now). I started playing the guitar when I was just 13, and by the age of 14, I had written ten songs, recorded my first album and released it amongst friends. Looking back, it was effortless.
It was almost as if I didn't try or make any effort whatsoever. I just picked up the guitar, and the ideas simply poured out of me like an endless supply of creativity. To me, the guitar felt like a way to express my emotions. It was as if the cable was plugged straight into my soul, and I believe that it was this automatic ability to tap into my deepest emotions which was the secret to my success as a musician.
But then it dissappeared. Suddenly, I had writer's block for two years, and in hindsight, I reckon it was the anti-depressants I was taking that blocked me from accessing my emotions, or that creative 'state' that I had taken for granted up until that point.
Strangely, prior to that, I had been to the most inspirational gig of my life at the age of 15, and it made me want to improve my guitar playing, so I spent those two years getting better technically, but still - no ideas came. However, when I came off the meds and hit 17, I believe that those two years of ruthless practice had increased my confidence as a musician, and it set me up for the next creative 'run' which lasted for years.
It was during that time that I really established myself, found my 'sound,' and increased my confidence as the endless 'tap' of creativity started again. I wrote some great songs and went viral on MySpace because of a competition I was involved in, and my fans spurred me on which gave me even more confidence to take more risks, which in turn, led to better music.
But then the audition fell apart and I lost my confidence, and I put the guitar down for two years. I got depressed again.
Looking back in hindsight, I now ask myself the big question.
Can confidence and rejection hinder your creativity? If you don't believe in yourself, can you still make great music? I have often thought has been the biggest trigger to my downfalls. Because it wasn't until a few years later whilst I was at University, that I met a lovely girl named Gabrielle who loved my music, and she would go on to become my music soulmate, and one of my best friends today.
I remember the day she came to my house because she had written the lyrics to my best songs, and suddenly, the ideas started again and these songs were even better than before. So we kicked ourselves into shape and started a band called Identity Thief, and we did extremely well in just a few months. We played festivals, packed out shows, built a fanbase and went on the radio a couple of times.
But maybe was it because there was a purpose? Maybe, it was because during the MySpace era, and during the Identity Thief days, I had a goal. A vision. A direction. Again, I have often wondered if having a vision can really compound and take your creativity to that next level.
But sadly, after the band broke up in 2011, it happened again. I lost it. And got depressed AGAIN.
And since then, I have really struggled to make good music, and five years has flown by. Admittedly, I know that age and stress plays a big part. I have tried on two occasions since then, but I was never happy with what I made, so I got frustrated, stopped and ditched what I had written. There goes that confidence word again.
But in April 2015, it came back out of nowhere (which I am grateful for), and I wrote some great songs. FINALLY, it felt like I was back on the right path to making the type of music I wanted to make again. But was I?
So I decided to give it just one last go, and enter back on this path towards writing a whole batch of new songs, but before you know it, two years had flown by and I was slightly unsatisfied with what I had achieved in those two years, UNTIL I went to my good friend Jim's place (my drummer and co-writer). He pumped me up, and suddenly, the magic came back.
We finished two songs, and they are just as good, if not better than some of the classics I made years back. So what happened there? Was it because he spurred me on? And taking everything above into consideration, what is the secret to great creativity?
From my experience, just because an idea isn't GREAT at first, it doesn't mean that it can't become great. Being persistent and not giving up (even though I wasn't satisfied with what I had created), has given me enough material to build on with guidance and a mentor who believed me. And building your self belief and confidence can really get the creative juices flowing, just as having a PURPOSE will be a game changer for you.
Having a coach there who believes in me has helped me to bypass my limitations and 'up' my game, so if you're struggling to pull it out of the bag, maybe you need a mentor, too. And maybe you need a goal. A focus. A vision. Initially, lower your expectations, because then you won't get frustrated and kill your own creative spirit which will dampen out your ability to be at the top of your game which is what happened to me.
And you don't want to fall into that trap.