Everybody at some point feels like they’re are stuck in a rut. Sometimes you feel like you just keep sinking deeper. Maybe you’ve hit a creative plateau, and it seems like you’re simply spinning your wheels.
Perhaps you’ve finished a run on the road with a few gigs and are worn out, or you’re coming down from a successful performance that took you places emotionally or creatively that you’ve never been before. Maybe it’s that just that post-breakthrough letdown.
When The Blahs Turn Blue
Don’t panic. This sense of feeling stuck or having a case of the blahs is part of life. So, most of the time you just need to just gear down, chill out, and allow yourself to relax, refresh, regroup, and recover. But there are times when the blues lingers to the point of feeling like you’re stagnating or forever stuck. It’s hung around a little too long and just won’t go away.
Maybe others have noticed that you’ve started shutting down and have tried to cheer you up, but it’s not working at first. But then, you come around, and the clouds are parting, and you’re getting back up to speed. But, thinking back, you notice how you began to have serious doubts about your ability. You came really close to spiraling downward into some pretty nasty self-effacing thoughts that could have turned into self-destructive behavior. You know you don’t want to go there.
Jump-Start Your Senses
Take it from someone who has often wander into and then wallowed in the dark and dreary, but has learned to use the gift of creativity to spark and spin upward. For serious depression, you should always seek help. But for these plateaus that come in the creative process for the vulnerable artist suffering from overexposure now and again, you can jump-start your senses and poke holes in those walls that are threatening to close in.
Be A Day Tripper
You need to introduce something new to stimulate your senses and reward your creativity. You need to shake things up; change your daily routine. You want to mix things that are comforting, enjoyable, and familiar with things that seem off the wall, exotic, and maybe even a little daring.
You need to plan a spontaneous “day trip.” There’s also an element of the unexpected whenever you make any plans. So mixing things up to “create spontaneity” in the planning sets you up to be surprised.
Fixed On Fives
So, to plan your off the wall event or activity, make a list of five people whose company you enjoy. Then, make a list of five favorite songs to sing, along with five favorite vocal exercises. Also, make a list of five favorite comfort foods. And finally, put together a list of five places or activities nearby that you either enjoyed as a child or you associate with being free like a kid.
Set The Scene
Once you have these lists completed, you then get a hold of the five people on your list until you reach the first one that wants to get together with you. You then mention the five places or activities, and see which one appeals to them. It becomes their choice. If they suggest something else, insist that it be one of the items on your list. But they will choose that activity or location. You then contact the remaining people on your list to see if any others want to come along.
Go With What Flows
Mention your comfort foods to those with whom you’ll get together, and see which of those items they like. Let them know you’ll be providing that for the day trip. Once all of this is set, and you reach the location or engage in the activity, you are to share at least one song from your list using an exercise as your warm up. Whatever else happens as part of your day trip is free to unfold. Go with it! Share as many of your songs and exercises as you feel like.
Poke Some Holes
This calculated attempt to be spontaneous engages things that are familiar while striking an emotional chord for you. But the mix of emotional and familiar items and activities is thrown together in a combination that is just a little bit out of sync.
This activity stimulates your senses, adds a touch of adventure, frees up your childlike wonder with silliness, and will help to break up those bluesy blahs while it places a peak and valley or two in your plateau.
This day trip concept can use all kinds of familiar groupings in its planning. You can start by choosing your five favorite colors or textures or shapes. Then, choose five people that you know well that either represent or are the exact opposite of the five items in the grouping that you begin with. The point is to start with a person, a setting or location of some sort that becomes your destination, a food or beverage experience, and a song with an exercise to share.
You can create your own variation on this concept. Have a picnic in a cemetery or a pillow fight in the park. Go with the flow of what unfolds. Many times, just playing with the concept can be just enough to lift your spirits, engage your heart, wake up your mind, and get you moving out of the rut you feel you’ve been stuck in just a little too long.
In addition, this is a fun party game. It’s also a great rehearsal activity for bonding with new band members. It’s a useful tool for self-examination, for learning about your friends, neighbors, family members, and fellow artists.
This mix and match concept can also help trigger new ideas for songwriters or fresh approaches to familiar songs. It stimulates your brain to problem solve, to piece things together, and put things in place.
The bottom line with the activity is to keep you positive. It’s design to remind you to strive to stay grateful, curious, hopeful, open, and committed to caring for and sharing your gifts. That will keep you healthy, upbeat, and encouraged as you pursue your personal and professional goals for singing success.