Dealing with self doubts

Although this question is intended for the most accomplished composers in this forum - those who have already been published - I look forward to any replies.

I know creative artists of any kind may feel this way periodically. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the talent around me, and begin to feel that it is a futile journey to try to reach the goals I have set for myself. There are such amazing artists in this forum and in the industry in general, and I am so appreciative of the works they have produced. But there remains in me a desire to create works of comparable beauty / majesty / effect.

Aside from committing to additional training, how do you cope with these down times? I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to objectively analyzing my own work, and I am sure many of you are the same.

I understand this is one reason this board was created in the first place, to provide safe space to share.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions, I appreciate you all.

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Not accomplished, but I didn’t want to read and run since I relate to this 100%

I get this a lot but it doesn’t help that I’m at the start of my music journey.

I try to remind myself that simplicity can still make an appealing song, I don’t know if it’s necessarily true but I try to convince myself anyway. A big thing which helps me is the support of my bandmates. I’ve attempted to write a few songs lately and they were very basic. I was expecting them to reject the idea of me writing some songs for the band but they were encouraging and I’m not too worried about the simplicity because they can put their own stamp on my basic idea. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that collaboration can really boost the spirit. Also you hear co-writers’ ideas and then your ideas can evolve too.

Learning is what I usually turn to when I have knocked my own self esteem with my singing. Been going through a tough time the last few months with my dad dying, I couldn’t sing through the emotions and I’ve been even more self critical than usual.

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Thanks for your insight. I think you’ve nailed it with the collaboration idea. Our internal reality is rarely the complete truth (either we oversell ourselves or beat ourselves up without cause), so other’s views are very important.

So sorry about your father, I am sure that is very wearing on your emotions.

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I break down my goals in different ways. I might have one main goal which I hope to reach in a year or two.Then I break that down to several smaller goals

To cheer me up under my journey I try to look in the mirror of what I’ve accomplished and look at my progress.

I compare myself with myself
For instance I can listen to a track I did 6 months ago and compare it with a new track
I try to look at the small positive steps I take towards my goal. I’m a better piano player this month than I was last month and so on.

In short that’s what I’m trying to do to stay focused and positive.

I also break goals down to weeks and days.
I had a period before where I thought about 3 good things I have done during the day before I went to sleep.

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I read a lot of books about mental coaching/training, how to reach goals, entrepreneur skills, mindfulness etc some years ago which was very helpful and inspiring.

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Dear Randy,

first of all, having doubts to yourself is nothing bad. Everyone struggles with his own goals and wants to reach them as fast as they can. There is nothing wrong with trying to get as good as the others in here.
But in fact you always have to be realistic, and thats the key in my opinion. See how much hours of hard work all others have spent in their life to get where they are. Even if you compare to others on your level you may find there are some things that they will make better and sometimes worse too. But this should only be an nice information for you where you can improve.

Another Point is that you can easily buy libraries for 1000s of $ that makes you feel you can easily create music like Hans Zimmer, BUT to not get dissappointed all the time, you always have to keep in mind that you are still not Hans Zimmer :).
I always ask myself, is Hans Zimmer able to write Software like i do? And then im feeling happy.

I wish you all the best, and believe me, you are not alone! If you are an amateur in something, respect that you are one and be proud of it. If you compare to any professional, you will always be dissapointed. This is not only relevant for Music, I think this matters to everything in life.

@originalvonster I am very sorry about your lost and I wish you all the strength and power i can for this very hard time.

Sincerely yours,
Michael

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Hey Randy,
I’m not an accomplished composer (far from it!) but I really think it’s great that you have posted about this on this forum. The thing is it’s a very competitive industry and most of us are in your type of situation. The thing is the talent around you are the ones who have actually succeeded and they form a very small part of the music industry. Anyways I wish you all the support for you to build yourself a career in this business and get your music heard. I’m 17 and started about 4 months ago so I guess I can’t relate that much. Perhaps I’ll feel this in about two years… At least I will know what is waiting for me and be prepared.
Regards,
Alexis

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And of course:

Ah Richard is a great guy and very experienced composer within trailer music specifically! :slight_smile:

Did you read the interview I did with him a few days ago?

Yes i did. So i checked out his site and his amazing thoughts about himself. This one fits the actual topic here very good. Even Nick Murray commented this video. I am very impressed indeed!

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Very informative and helpful. Although, I am now convinced that in order to be a great composer, one must have a thick British accent… :grin:

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Same rule seems to go for actors too…British accents wins all the time! :wink:

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So, I’ve struggled with this question many times and here’s what I’ve discovered and learned from artists I guarantee you know. Artistic Comparison is by-itself an oxymoron. Creativity and expression isn’t measured in who you emulate or aspire to be, its about who you are personally and what you want to convey. Complex or simple, Technical or abstract. Your voice or creations are already majestic, beautiful and unique. Every time you share it you contribute to the art form and help others who feel like you do the same. We are so lucky to live in the time we do. How many aspiring musicians that came before us even had a chance to express themselves in anyway. You have to let go of your doubt. Creating music everyday and sharing it is how you overcome the doubt. Anyone can “learn” technique, “expressing yourself” is what’s hard. Art takes an act of courage and I know you have it because if you didn’t, you would not be asking for advice or suggestions. That’s courageous. That’s expression. That’s who you are. Don’t run from fear of failure, run towards it. You will find out very quickly that the two are separated by an extremely small margin- Your point of view.

Here are some examples:

DeadMau5e can neither read or write music and where’s a mask because he’s self-conscious about, himself.

Hans Zimmer was classically trained yet has reinvented orchestration with synths and hybrid sounds that 35 years ago was laughed at by most classical standards.

Danny Elfman and Tim Burton worked everyday on, Nightmare before Christmas for years before making it. No visuals. No certainty and no experience for either in how to make a musical. They just said just said, “Hey, lets do it.”

Timberland, seriously makes music with his mouth, because he can’t play an instrument or read or write music. He also works with a team of three because thats his strength collaboration. One of his most famous songs with Missy Elliot has a quantization mistake in it and no one knew or cared.

JunkieXL same thing not classically trained, but well known and successful.

What do they have in common with you or me? They all shared the same fear you do. Fear shapes our reality just like hope. It’s up to you to decide which one you want to feed. I’ll will make an agreement with you. If you promise to make a song every week or month or whatever I will to and we’ll release them together. We’ll get you past this because the artist you want to be is on the other side of this and I would very much like to meet him.

I know I just met you right now in this forum but I’ll do it with you. Why, because you might make the music that changes peoples lives, minds or soul to me thats worth it!

Let me know.

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Also, check out this roundtable discussion. You will hear some very relatable emotions, concerns and fears. You should also remind yourself everyday that you are a composer, and an artist and the people in this industry are now your colleagues! How awesome is that?

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I think what you are describing is normal. The big talents or whatever you call it out there that make you think competitively or even feel envious of is a good thing in my opinion.If you don’t have something more skilled and advanced in ideas and technique to look to, then you don’t have a higher standard for yourself and a place that you can move further into- basically those accomplished composers inspire people to work harder and be better, while it may hurt your ego it will indirectly cause you to be better. Even if we do not want to copy the sound of other composers we shuld try to learn from how they connect with their audience and the why their music inspires people.

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I mostly agree with your idea of holding yourselve to a higher standard, but the way I believe you get there is by self-discovery. Recognizing and harnessing that inner voice will bring out the best in you. I have shelves of music theory books. I have taken lessons from great musicians and have a degree in film and music from the University of Arizona and none of that taught me anything more about who I wanted to be as a musician and composer. I learned branding, marketing, sales and distribution and how to generate a commercial following. Ultimately all forms of art are subjective in nature and are the expressions and views of the artist not the community. For me comparing myself to others is exactly what has kept me from finding my own sound and voice. Once I realized I’m not going to be Alan Silvestri, John Williams or Bernard Herrman I took so much weight off my shoulders and could finally focus on “my musical identity”.

I do believe learning from others and honing your techniques is absolutely crucial, but not at the expense of my musical ideas and thoughts. Emulating anothers work is not something I would do or recommend to connect with an audience. If your music is unique honest and well written the audience will find you. I have so much more confidence in my music because there’s nothing to compare it to. It’s original. It’s unique and isn’t that what all art is about? Self Expression.

Thats my view at least and its helped me become more confident and aspire to greater challenges and discovery of what my music means to me.

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Some great thoughts, thanks for sharing. Really glad I joined this forum - awesome musicians here, but even more importantly, great people.

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What can I say - wow, so many words of wisdom. Thanks so much. I’d be crazy not to take every advantage to learn from all of you, and hope I can give back as much.

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Are you doing the Jurassic Park contest?

Yes, I plan to. I’ve started it at least :slight_smile: