If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
In September 2014, I set out to take a two-month break from writing original tunes. I had just released the To The Sky EP, and the goal was to jump back into my songwriter shoes in December and work on a full-length album.
The two-month break turned into over a year.
Nevertheless, I spent the better part of 2015 recording cover songs, with the hopes of expanding my production and vocals skills beyond R&B. This mission was successful, resulting in the CVRD project release that September.
Three months later (and 14 months after the songwriting break began), I had two new songs written. With a renewed focus, I decided to release a four-track EP at top of 2016 and follow it with the album in May. Sounded like a solid plan, right?
May came and went, with no album to show for it. I then actively decided to dedicate the entire month of June to finish writing and recording it.
June came and went. The sequence switched around a bunch, with some songs being replaced and others moved around. Meanwhile, I didn’t record any vocals the entire month.
It is now August. The album is still not finished.
PAUSE. RECALIBRATE. CONTINUE.
Throughout the entire process, I kept over-analyzing everything and running the full spectrum of emotions:
- frustration that it was taking so long,
- elation when a song jumped from “meh” to “nice”,
- sadness when I realized a song needed to be scrapped
- apathy when I realized the workload ahead of me.
It took me getting to this semi-psychotic break to realize that my head was in the wrong place. I was so focused on the finish line throughout this entire process that I forgot to enjoy the journey.
In a sense, I was trying to microwave an album that needed to simmer in a slow cooker.
I took a step back and reevaluated my goals and expectations. I had written the vision for the record and made it plain, but I had veered off the path somewhere along the line. Once I remembered to enjoy the process of creating this work, and really accepted the fact that things will never go exactly as planned, I could continue moving forward.
WHAT’D WE LEARN?
While we pursue our dreams and goals, we must not forget to enjoy the journey. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and each step we take provides us with a lesson we’ll need to endure the road ahead. We cannot take that for granted.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a license to stay stagnant. Just like overcooking a steak will dry it out and render it useless, we shouldn’t stay in one place for too long out of convenience/fear. Take the meat, leave the bones, and continue moving forward and growing.
All food analogies aside: instead of looking for loopholes and shortcuts to get the process over with, I need to remove all expectations about what this album should or shouldn’t be (or at least try to do so) and enjoy the process of crafting it into what it is meant to be.
In the wise words of Kanye West… drive slow, homie.