One of the toughest parts of making music is simply finishing the damn thing. Many of us have tons of ideas, and love getting started on them, but the more progress we make with them, the more likely we are to get distracted and leave them unfinished.
There are a few reasons why this happens. At the start of a track, making music can be really fun because there’s no pressure or expectations. As we form an idea into something tangible, however, there’s more at stake. If you’ve got the seed of a good idea, you might start to worry that you’re going to it, or waste it – all of which can lead to inaction.
Another problem tends to be a fear of failure. This is a major problem for any creative person, and especially those who tend to be perfectionists. The closer a project gets to reaching its conclusion, the more vulnerable that person is to criticism or self-doubt.
This is simply because you’ve invested time and energy into crafting the final product, and if it’s not very good, or is received badly, there’s nowhere to hide. If you’ve done your best at something, the idea of then receiving criticism for it can be incredibly scary, and really undermine your confidence. Ultimately, being creative is about exposing yourself to the potential for criticism, which can be very daunting.
There’s no easy solution to these issues, as they’re problems that affect us on quite a deep level, and the fears may be more subconscious than anything else. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a hard-drive full of half finished ideas and tracks of good background music for the site that will probably never see the light of day.
One good solution is to work on one project at a time, and work until it is complete before you allow yourself to start another. This takes discipline but will ensure you actually complete your projects.
Another is to simply leave tracks alone for a while if you feel you’re struggling, and then return to them with a refreshed pair of ears and eyes. This distance will stop you feeling so invested in the project, to the point where you’re scared to finish it.
It’s also important to note that sometimes an idea simply can’t be expanded, and should be discarded. Knowing when to say enough is enough is an important part of the creative process as well.
One technique that I like to use is to break things down into a methodical process. Listen to your unfinished tracks, and simply make a list of what needs changing and completing. Giving yourself a to-do list of small tracks takes the emotion out of finishing your music, and let’s you see and feel your progress as it happens.
Trying to build a habit around making your music is also a good idea, and will really help you make progress.
Do you have any ideas for completing your projects? Let us know in the comments.