As a musician, how should you live your life? If you said "suffering," then we need to talk. Sure, there will always be aspects of persistence, letdowns, and struggles, but if you’ve been programmed to believe that the only way to create is to suffer, then you’re hitting this journey already at a deficit.
It’s sad how many artists think that their only connection to creation is sorrow. I mean, look at the plight of some of the greats! Too many have left this earth well before their time. I’m not saying that they consciously chose to live in sorrow, but I believe it worked its way into their lives in one way or another until they couldn’t separate themselves from it.
I see how it could help to channel emotions for a sad song when you’re freshly broken up with, but that doesn’t mean you should string together bad relationships in order to write your next album. You don’t need a torrid life of melancholy to receive inspiration – you simply need to be open to inspiration. I’m from the school that positivity breeds success, and nothing too positive can be accomplished if you’re operating at either extreme of your emotional spectrum. I realize that reads a bit like a PSA for depression, but positivity and motivation go a long way. That advice extends beyond your art to decisions in your everyday life.
I had a teacher years ago who preached a motto that still runs through my mind often: "Practice your art each day without judgment, without expectation, so when opportunity comes you’ll be ready." Basically, always be performance ready because you never know who is going to ask to see your stuff. That’s about as much as you can stack the deck in your favor in this thankless, gypsy life we’ve all chosen.
With that in mind, here are seven things I try to include in my everyday to live the life of a creative genius – they keep me on my toes. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
- Warm up: No need to hit the ground running. Find a warm-up routine that eases you into your practice, whether you do lips trills and squats in preparation for the tuba, or hum through some vocal exercises in a nice, warm shower.
- Practice: A lot. That doesn’t mean that you need to spend eight hours each day practicing, but promise yourself that you’ll at least pick up your instrument and blow into it, strum it, or otherwise love it in some way.
- Exercise: Whether you hit the gym or do "Yoga with Adriene" on YouTube, you need to get those endorphins flowing.
- Eat the right kinds of food: Feed your mind and body with good grub. Too many carbs are magically delicious, but they’ll also slow you down. Try to have a balanced diet rich with nutrients and protein. (Of course, the occasional pizza throwdown is a must for creativity!)
- Learn something new: Challenge yourself to learn new songs, techniques, and ideologies. Keep your routine from growing stale by continuously adding to your arsenal.
- Take a break: Allow yourself time each day to escape your art. Zone out. Read a book. Watch a movie. Go sky diving. It really doesn’t matter as long as you aren’t pondering the next great chord progression.
- Perform like no one's watching: Your art should be for you first. Always perform from your heart, for your heart. If it touches others, then you may have something marketable on your hands.
Jonathan Hack is a Brooklyn resident, musician, writer, and ping pong aficionado. His career in the theatre has spanned acting, music direction, production, carpentry, and more. As a marketer, he has worked with major brands in music and fashion. He is a proud member of AEA and NATS. Follow him on Twitter @writerninja and on Instagram @jonnyhack.