Elton John’s partner David Furnish (yeah I can’t believe I’m quoting him either) once said “Anyone with an addiction is not being honest about something in their life” – and I think the same applies to motivation.
Whenever I’ve felt demotivated when working on some music, it’s always been because of some doubt somewhere about what I’m doing. Whether it’s doubts about if the project is worth investing my time in, or I have a feeling it’s going to fall through and my music will end up not being used…perhaps it’s something I don’t really feel happy about being involved in. Maybe I secretly feel too insecure to be putting your music into a certain project – or possibly feel I’m too good for another one.
Whatever the reason, feeling demotivated is a clear warning sign. It shows that deep down I don’t want to do it.
It shouldn’t normally take too much soul searching to find the answer…and reaching a completely honest answer is vital.
If you don’t want to write music because there’s something good on tv, or you want to go out instead – well it depends on the context (if you have a deadline for a track the next day and you would rather be out clubbing, then perhaps re-evaluate what you feel is important to you!), but in general I’ve found that this sort of thing is procrastination.
To avoid the stress of doing it, you fix your mind on some random activity that suddenly seems enormously alluring.
Face the fears and doubts…they are an imaginary boundary, and as Frank Zappa said “Think it over, and it will fall down…” – if the doubts and fears are genuine, then this is a difficult position, as something in you does not want to do what you are doing, and you need to look at what that means for you.
As negative as that seems, I’d always say to look for the positive in situations like this. It was this exact quandary that shifted my life from making music, to helping others to improve their music making.
Something in me was saying “this is not the right thing for you” – and I’d devoted my whole life to music, and becoming a better musician…it was hard to listen to that voice, but it did steer me in the right direction, it just took a while for me to figure out what I wanted….
When you are doing what you love, in the way that you want to…motivation will never be a problem…if anything it will be a problem stopping yourself doing it all day!
David Learnt composition (harmony, counterpoint and orchestration) to degree level through studying Schoenbergs Fundamentals of Musical Composition, the classic text on twentieth century harmony by Vincent Persichetti, Henry Mancini’s Sounds and Scores, Rimsky-Korsakov’s excellent books on orchestration as well as studying any scores that intrigued me. He is a founder member of two bands, avant pop duo Cnut, and orchestral doombience outfit Regolith, and have performed across Europe with them.