Tell me how you really feel

by will lawrence ~

I’ve often thought how I’d love to make a living through music, but I know I’m far too lazy for that. Often, I would (and still do) get jealous of people’s musical talents, saying: “oh man I wish I wrote that song, or came up with those lyrics or that riff”. Well, ya didn’t, Will, so stop being such a bitter boy. Like lots of other endeavours in life, sometimes you need to remind yourself to simply enjoy others’ work rather than compare it to your own all the time. For those who know me, they’ll know that music is such a large aspect of my life. But for a fair few years, I fell out of love with making music – often thinking it’s never good enough or that simply it never ends, tweaking a song for days, weeks, or even years. In the end, I stopped doing it all together and that was my one and only release.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up entirely – just a few-years hiatus. Recently, with the countless lockdowns, I’ve started playing, singing and writing music again and I’ve realised how much it helped me in the past. I tried to approach it with no expectations or judgement – simply what I was feeling at the time. It was daunting, it was awkward, and it wasn’t a pretty process to begin with. But getting my thoughts onto paper, my phone, or Logic Pro has helped me put the things I’ve struggled with recently – whether it’s a bad break-up, or just a bad day – in the past and keep them there.

I would encourage everyone, and I mean everyone, to do the same. Pick up that guitar, that recorder, that paintbrush, that notepad and put down what you’re feeling. Whether it’s just a messy stream of consciousness in a diary, it really doesn’t have to be “creative” at all, just get the myriad of complex, confusing, and conflicting thoughts – that we all experience so often – out of your own head and onto something physical and real. Much like how this wonderful website is providing me the opportunity to do right now, writing is freeing, and I would argue there aren’t many better feelings than that release from mind to matter.

I’m not saying force it every day, because that’s (1) no fun (2) unrealistic and (3) in the end, that’s how you begin to hate the process you once enjoyed doing. Rather, when you feel the need to, act on it; when you have an itch, scratch it. Even if you’re far too busy and should really be doing something else, scratch that itch because ultimately it will help with how you approach all those other things happening in your life.

A second and I think an equally important aspect of this is to share it. Share it with the whole online world; share it with just the one other it’s about; share it just for your own twisted egotistical needs for attention and approval. But, at the very least, share your thoughts with the blank piece of paper, because you’re still sharing it with your current self and your future self.

Stop caring whether it’s perfect, because it’ll never be perfect. It’s never as bad you think it is, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better you get. Don’t worry if its cringey, embrace the initial cringe. I made an album with two best friends, I now cringe at 75% of it, but I’m happy I made it and shared it with anyone who was willing to give it a listen. It’s a nostalgic little time capsule into how I was feeling at the time, and you too can look back at all your strange and wonderful thoughts over the years and how much you’ve changed in equally the nicest and strangest ways.

Lastly, a tip: through whatever medium you record your thoughts, try to finish it. Easier said than done, I know. I can’t tell you how many voice notes of odd recordings and ideas I have that I wish I took further, and as nice as it is to sit and listen and reminisce what could have been, I’ve always been prouder of the ones I’ve finished. It felt more complete and I was able to put those thoughts in the past much more easily.

I know this isn’t the most original piece, it’s just a simple reminder to keep on going with that process, that mental release. We’ll never have this kind of time again and, as cliche as it sounds, I’ve found you’ll always regret the thoughts you never shared – even with yourself. So, if I had a column, this is what I’d share. It took two of the worst years of my life to realise all of this, so hopefully, at the very least, I’ve saved you the trouble and given you the antidote.