I wrote a post a while back about being ok with not knowing. Sometimes you don’t know what your next move is, how you’ll get from the start to the finish line. The gist of the post is that this usually feels uncomfortable but it’s ok to feel that way. There’s no need to shy away from it – it’s a normal part of a process that requires you take a different path each time it’s undertaken.
This can be applied to music composition and any other creative endeavour. The point is that something new will be the end product; you can’t get there without the process, or some part of it, also being new.
But human beings don’t like not knowing what the future might bring, and they don’t like the associated uncomfortable, uncertain feelings. We all like to feel in control. The creative process by its very nature often requires the opposite.
Yes, it’s all well and good me saying to you, “it’s fine to feel uncomfortable and not know what’s going to happen and how you’re going to get there. It’ll all turn out ok.” However, I realise now this statement was an evidence-based expectation. It’s turned out ok in the past, specifically for me, so I have a reasonable expectation based on (admittedly biased) anecdotal evidence. It’s not blind faith on this occasion.
Perhaps I’m wrong to dish out this information – it’s really up to you to decide if you ought to feel ok about feeling uncomfortable or insecure, with not knowing. I’ll be honest with you – my amygdala is utterly useless when it comes to making work or business decisions. It sees danger and creates fear at every turn. I learned long ago to attempt to ignore it, and more recently to acknowledge it then to ask it politely but firmly to keep its opinions to itself. There are other bits of my brain that rely on previous experience to make decisions of which I choose to take more heed; for example, the part that says, “you’ve met more difficult deadlines in the past, you can do it again,” is a really helpful attitude that I prefer to accept. Based on evidence.
Mulling this over… I concluded that I’m ok with feeling not ok because I’ve evidence that the task ahead, though daunting, unwieldy and downright difficult is nonetheless achievable. I accept that, right now, I may not quite know which direction to take the work but there are systems in place, refined over the years, to help me take the next step, and the one after that, even though, right now, the one after that is completely unknown. It’ll become clearer as I progress. It doesn’t stop the blank page being the blank page, but now it holds less power and more hope.
Only you can know if you’re relying on blind faith or evidence-based expectations. I don’t recommend the former, but the latter can help you sit with the insecurity and unwieldiness of the next project and, who knows, even enjoy it a little bit, masochistic little beggers we creatives are. Knowing from previous experience of the process, you may even come to expect it, to require it, to chase it, crave it.
Maybe when you don’t feel that sense of certain uncertainty (aka doom), that’s when you start to worry.
Yes I’ve a big project coming up (Blood + Chocolate) and no this stream of consciousness has nothing to do with it. At all.