If you’re not careful, an album is something that could take you years to finish. As an artist, it’s crucial to make something creatively meaningful, and that takes time. But there comes a point with making music where indecision, distractions, and the desire to only make “perfect” work gets in the way of productivity and wrapping up projects. If you can’t seem to finish that album you’ve been pouring your heart and soul into, here are three tips to help:
It’s not downright impossible to write and record on the road, but it’s hugely challenging. Playing in different locations night after night and traveling during the day creates conditions that are unideal for completing an album. This is hard advice to swallow, especially for musicians who make most of their money touring, but staying home and focusing on finishing an album is what needs to happen if you’re a busy musician who can’t seem to wrap things up. Touring demands so much time and attention that it doesn’t leave room for much else.
Stick to a songwriting/recording schedule
Musicians who aren’t on the road all the time often also struggle with finishing albums, whether it’s writing new material or putting finishing touches on the entire project. Common sense logic applies here, which is that if you’re serious about finishing an important music project, you need time and energy to get it done. It’s easy to embark on a new album with optimism and a strict schedule for getting things done, but after weeks or months into the process, it can be hard to sustain that sort of fervor. If you’re stuck on something that’s keeping you from finishing your album, recommit to a schedule that allows you to face your creative or technical challenges in an unrushed way. Time is one of your largest assets as a musician, and your album won’t develop and solidify without it. This means working when you don’t feel like it and fully committing to the process.
Decisions, decisions. We’re faced with a literal endless amount of songwriting and production choices when we make music, so it’s natural to feel overwhelmed or stuck at times. But when it comes to wrapping up a big music project like an album, choices must be made in order to move forward. When the desire to create something great gets in the way of working naturally, creatively, and decisively, artists can’t create meaningful work. Instead of compromising on ideas by rushing them, it’s best to focus on working in a way that leaves time for real decisions to be made. There is no such thing as perfect in music, so getting stuck striving for unrealistic ideals will only leave you frustrated and further away from your goals.
Despite what you might think, albums are still massively important in music, and they’re not easy to create. But by being decisive, sticking to a schedule, and staying off the road, you’ll create the best creative conditions for moving forward and finishing yours.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.