By Stella Joseph-Jarecki (Enquiries: stellamusicwriter.wordpress.com)
Every creative person has felt a sense of hopelessness at some point. On more intense days, a real desire to quit. There’s nothing shameful or wrong about this, or about actually quitting. We all need to make decisions that are right for our own life.
Whether you take a temporary break from your passion, or a permanent one, I wanted to know what my fellow artists did on days when they felt like quitting. Myself, I listen to the music which brings me unfiltered joy, playlists filled with ABBA and The Mamas and The Papas. Other go-to tactics include going for a walk or calling up a trusted friend.
If you find yourself having more bad days in a row than good ones, or even average ones, please consult the resources below on how to maintain your mental health, and get help for days when you are struggling:
On days when I feel like quitting, I open up to some old repertoire from years ago and I just play, remembering how far I’ve come. On days when it’s really bad I think back to the years of practicing at school when I did not have a piano at home, and I remember how lucky I am that my parents allowed me and encouraged me to pursue my passion.
Liam Whitbourn, pianist and rehearsal accompanist
For me it’s about diversifying. Finding things that give me an immediate sense of achievement and fulfillment while still engaging my creativity. Often it’s building or designing something, re-wiring the studio or even just watching a new film or finding a new album that I love. Long form projects can be hard because chipping away can lack results on a daily basis. Short, achievable tasks help me stay above water.
Hamish Keen, composer and sound engineer
When I think about quitting I get myself to think about what it was that made me start in the first place, what inspired me to start on this journey? I tap into something that sparks that love of creating, and the joy of art. I think about moments in my life where music has truly moved me to such a point of immense joy and love and how that is my inspiration to create art and music.
Esther Gresswell, mezzo-soprano
The main things I turn to on days I feel like quitting are visual art, text writing or reading. It can help to reinvigorate my creativity. It always helps me to collect and contain my thoughts and realise why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Sean Quinn, composer and flautist
I rely on the people in my life. The ones who know who I am and I can trust to tell me who I am when I lose myself to the world. The people who remind me I have a place I belong and I can be part of it all.
Daniel Felton, baritone
I read past entries in my career journal and focus on the positives.
Christine Sharp, pianist and piano teacher
I have gotten a lot better at bouncing back and handling the days I feel like quitting music. In the past I went into disaster mode and looked for alternative career paths! When these days come along now, it’s usually when I’m feeling stuck or tired, so to change things up musically or scenically (get out of the practice room!) really helps. I also get in touch with why I like singing and depending on the day I may make a vision board.
Sofia Laursen Habel, soprano
When I feel like giving up I reconnect with the songs and pieces (no matter what they are) that best remind me at a personal level why I do it. These pieces have a way of letting me see the musical world through unjaded, child-like eyes again.
Tom Misson, composer
When I’m faced with the reality of quitting, I put on a piece of music or song that always makes me happy no matter what (“Atlantica” by Pekoe usually in my case) and go for a run listening to it – It always helps to de-stress and put me in the present moment. If that isn’t enough, I call up a friend who inspires me, because in my opinion nothing beats the feeling of failure better than perspective.
Robert McIntyre, composer and flautist