“The art of losing isn´t hard to master“. That´s what Elizabeth Bishop once said. The art of being lose however, is very hard to master. Being lose is the opposite of being tense, hyper critical and precious about your artmaking. There is nothing wrong with that, if that´s what you like. However, for the sake of trying something new, I want to challenge you to dare to losen up as much as possible, giving up control and expressing freely without self-censoring. This is a difficult thing to do for most artists.
In a previous blogpost we looked at the 4 stages of learning a new skill. It´s a journey going from unconscious incompentence all the way to unconscious competence. The keyword here is “unconscious“. During our learning phase we have to pass through very conscious stages, which often make us hyper aware of our flaws and of potential pitfalls. These conscious passages are the ones that tend to make us tense and a bit fearful. They are a crucial part in building a new skill. And yet, at one point, if you want to truly master a skill, you will want to get to a level of unconscious competence. A level, in which you no longer cling to controlling every little step. It is in that stage that you can start to losen up more and more, giving room to perfect imperfections purposefully.
Imaging learning to speak a foreign language. At first you have to actively construct and think through every sentence you form. You want to make sure you´ve got the grammar down while using the right words and pronouncing them okay. After a while though, the grammatical rules start to sink in. The vocabulary becomes a part of your brain´s knowlegde base. You can start to just express what´s on your mind, without having to “translate”.
The same goes for songwriting, singing, performing or mastering an instrument. At first, you have to approach things by “following” the rules and gaining a deeper understanding of how things work. After a while though, things feel natural and you can let go of “thinking” about what you are doing. The so called “muscle memory” takes the wheel. However, a lot of us hold on to the familar mechanism of “self-control”, because we fear the mistakes that might happen. We are not ready to put ourselves out there without the manual, because we are scared to get judged. Art is a field that makes us very vulnerable and also susceptible to all kinds of opinions and criticism.
This is where things get challenging. We´ve all been there. And yet, I challenge you to be courageous and let go of the self-control. Art lies beyond the comfort zone! Artists walk beyond the controllable. beyond the obvious and beyond the known territory. It might be scary at first, but you grow in confidence as you go. Sooner or later you will start to enjoy the journey.
If you feel like you are too tense as a singer, or too much sticking to the same approach in your songwriting, or you are too scared to play a guitar solo on stage…try approaching things in baby steps. When singing, allow yourself 10 min a day to forget everything you know and just sing from the bottom of your lungs. Feel your body, feel the vibrations and see if you discover something that feels good, that feels authentic. Dare to trade the pretty for the authentic. You do not have to incorporate that into your singing, but you might discover your true, authentic voice that you can let shine through in certain parts of your songs. If you´re not yet ready to play a guitar solo on stage, play little licks here and there to begin with and allow yourself to make mistakes. If you hit a wrong note on the fret board, it is likely the right one is just a fret away. So just slide up. Make things look intentional. Learn to embrace mistakes, because that´s what artists do. Every mistake can be corrected in creative ways and once you understand that, you become truly free, fearless and expressive.
I´d love to hear from you and how you approach “getting lose” and letting go of perfectionsim. Leave your comment on the socials or send your feedback via email.
Remember to take it easy and stay lose
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