Horribly Unmotivated

For the past few months I have been horribly unmotivated towards the guitar. I can barely even bring myself to look at it let alone pick it up. Even if I could I’m not really sure what I would even do with it. Suffering loss recently has compounded the issue, and I’m not entirely sure how to break out of it.

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I lost my father coming up on 4 years ago, and even though it’s become a bit of a blur now, I’m sure I didn’t touch the guitar outside of work (I teach) for quite some time. He’d bought me my first one, took me to my lessons, and all that, so there was a strong emotional attachment between him and guitar, and it really messed with me. Not knowing the details of your situation, it will take the time it needs to take, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Guitar is just guitar, after all, and it’s meant to be fun more than anything.

As for general motivational loss, I understand that, too, especially if you’re spending a lot of time on technical work. One of the things that’s helped me rekindle the love is finding new music that was outside of my wheelhouse. I was always a metal/prog kind of guy, but over the last couple of years I’ve REALLY gotten into people like Thundercat and Louis Cole - music that largely doesn’t feature any guitar at all, but it worked as tremendous inspiration because it was so different than what I was used to.

I don’t know if any of that will help, but I certainly wish you the best! You’ll get through it.

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Sorry to hear about your loss. Glad to see you posting on here again!

Even though I am old (almost 40) I am fortunate enough that so far I have only lost 2 people I am close to. That never had any impact on me wanting to play guitar though. That has been a lifelong love affair for me :slight_smile:

What was it about the instrument that initially got you so interested in it? I’ve mentioned many times on here what a fantastic player you are. Maybe that is part of the “problem”? You may he able to play all the things you’d care to play and sometimes not feeling challenged can cause us to disengage. I am no where near where I’d like to be, so I am constantly challenged (which I love) so I always have something in my sights to keep me motivated.

Best wishes on your healing and I hope you find a way to get back to your playing, you are far too good to just walk away.

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Then don’t play guitar!

If I’m not interested in playing music I don’t play music. I have zero patience for forcing myself to do things that aren’t working, don’t sound good, or that I simply don’t want to do (for whatever reason). This can lead to literal months that go by where I don’t touch a particular instrument, but that’s fine. I consider this a secret superpower, since it naturally directs you toward stuff that you like, things that are creative, and things that work better than whatever you’re doing now.

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When I go through periods like this, I tend to try out entirely new creative hobbies.

Be it a different style of playing guitar (maybe give the instagrammy math rock tappy stuff a try?), a brand-new instrument, or a completely different activity, but I don’t think you should force yourself to play guitar.

Also, condolences on your loss :frowning:

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Sorry for your loss. A close friend of mine passed away in January, it still doesn’t feel real and grief can affect us in all sorts of ways.
If you don’t feel like playing, I say don’t. The inspiration to play will come back in time. It always does!

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Thank you all. *****

(* for the 20 character post requirement)

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Troy’s suggestion of taking a break really sounds great and is worth a try.

It may also be worth seeing if the opposite end of the spectrum works for you, because it is about ‘what works for you’, and that can fluctuate and evolve, but the fact you’re posting this suggests you might kinda want to do some playing, on some level, without bailing for too long.

The opposite end of the spectrum might be something like:

… doing the ‘most fun’ / ‘least amount of hassle’ type of playing on a semi-disciplined / regular basis… By that, I mean just jamming along to any old backing tracks or songs available on youtube (or wherever you have instant access to such things) in any particular genre that occurs to you at any point, without judgement about doing it well. It’s not practice, it’s play.

The more automatic this habit is, the better, because often ‘just starting’, will get you playing for a few minutes at least. Sometimes it’s hard to stop. The idea is “you may stop at any time, but you may not fail to start”.

The way I do this, is that I have scheduled 30 mins to play improv, after dinner, 2-3 times per week (I alternate with reading). No problem if I only do 10 mins, or 45… But it’s crucial to have a ‘plug-and-play’ setup, even if it’s just an acoustic, jamming along to your phone… I prefer my home studio setup, with a Logic template set up and ready to go with my go-to guitar plugins etc, then I just search on Youtube for any genre or band that I was thinking about recently and just go for it. Sometimes even artists I often heard of, but never bothered to check out properly…

The (gentle & compassionately flexible) discipline / scheduling and ‘plug and play’ setup reduce the reliance on willpower, which you may understandably have less of, at any point. Especially when tired in evenings or stuck in trying to think your way into whether now’s a good time or not.

Your version of my ‘most fun’ / ‘least amount of hassle’ type of playing may be very different to mine, but that’s all fine. As long as it doesn’t feel awful after starting. :slight_smile: If it does, then by all means do as Troy said and do something else (or nothing), guilt-free for a good while. But personally, I can attest for the good effects of “micro-disciplined” playing before, during and after difficult chapters in life. :wink:

All the best with it.

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I’m sorry you’re going through pain @Fossegrim I hope with time things will improve. Losing loved ones is one of the worst things I know of.

As for playing, I’ve found time away, even long periods is acually a good thing, as your physical routines or licks etc that come out through habit get weaker, and that allows you to change things up, and perhaps create new lines or ideas based on your musical mind rather than what your fingers want to play. If you just go for the licks you remember obviously you’ll just reinforce it all again, the time away should make doing new stuff more attainable though, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s like a reset.

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Sorry to hear about about all your lost ones.

I haven’t been playing much for a year. Part of if it was getting back into heavy work and the other part is maybe I was in a rut or burned out. Well now I’m burned out with work so back to the guitar.

One thing that always helps is a little piece of new gear now and then, the last thing I got was a Revival Drive, but the honeymoon didn’t last very long. It’s a great pedal and I’m very sure it’s going to stay on my board as the centre piece forever, I dare say.

What I realised is my main progress happened with a very modest setup compared to what I eventually ended up with, which is a proper plexi and 4x12, and I can run it loud anytime of the day or night, but what I realised is I stopped practicing of pushing as I did with a cartoon rig, which is where I made most of my gains on. I used to plug into a BE-OD at one end, and a little wart on the other called a VOX Ampplug 2 Lead, that had it’s line out into the AUX in of a Katana mini, ( going into the front of the katana mini was terrible ), and the secret sauce to the whole contraption was cheap AAA cells in the ampplug, the better ones sounded harsh!

Ne ways forward to a week ago, I finally bit the bullet and got a simplifier DLX, it’s an all analog signal path that has a pre, power and simcab, with a digital reverb that is rather nice. It sounds terrific, but most of all feels ever better. And I’m back to playing longer hours like I did to back when I started here.

The take away for me was, careful what you wish for. Practice and discovery at lower volumes is a lot more sustainable.

Hey Fossegrim, nice to have you back!

First of all, sorry for your loss :frowning:

Have been wanting to write some thoughts here for a few days, but the day job (the non-guitar one) got a bit in the way.

Lots of great thoughts already, and mine is not terribly original and just a variation of things that have been already said. In any case, here it is:

In my own experience, I get the best motivation when I have small, self-contained goals that feel within reach (like: learn the first 8 bars of this piece that I like, try to write a 10-second riff, work on picking pattern X for 5 minutes). The good thing about small goals is that you can have a go (and make some progress) even when you have just 10 minutes or so.

At the same time, my motivation is easily destroyed when I make up goals that are too vague and/or too ambitious, like: I want to practice for 3hrs. I want to write a new song. I want to learn this 5-minute super-hard classical piece start to finish, even though it’s 11pm and I’m falling asleep :sweat_smile:

Despite my “knowledge” I still do both for the record!

When all else fails, put a Tubescreamer in front of a JCM800 (real or simulated), and play Basket Case by Green Day :sunglasses:

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With out going into too much detail, it’s been a lousy seven years, but losing one person last year, was one thing. Losing another just recently, was a different ballgame, and threw everything into disarray. To the point where now I question whether or not I’m having an existential crisis. TMI I’m sure. but questioning who you are anymore is a tough spot to be in. Hopefully I’ll snap out of it.

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Really sorry to hear about your problems, I know how hard it is when suffering depression to do just the basic things like eating and sleeping, let alone playing the guitar, and you shouldn’t force yourself to play.
I spent years sitting there looking at my guitar with no energy to play it. It took a long time before I actually had the urge to pick it up again.
I would say don’t worry about not playing, it will come back to you if it’s meant to, just concentrate on looking after yourself and getting through the crisis. Some people just try and plough through, carry on working hard and keeping busy and after a while things feel better, some people need to stop and take a break from their busy lives to reconsider their purpose in life or change their lives all together. In both cases things will get better over time.

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If I were to rationally look at it, I think this is a lot of it. I haven’t really been in a position where I can do this, not for the last 7 years or so. I have zero in terms of work life balance, so much so, when my mother died last year of the ripe old age of 61, I was at work the next day, ducking into conference rooms for 10 minutes at a time in order to call the medical examiner. I know there is still that expectation now, and the inability to just turn it all off for a bit, no matter how much I want to.

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Well i hope your boss appreciates how dedicated you are to the job, or maybe you don’t have a choice because of financial pressures. If you are financially OK then I would say have a chat with your boss and see if you can take a break, but I understand its easier said than done. Just, if you can’t take control you might find yourself getting more depressed and forced to take time off sick anyway, like I did. I know it’s hard in our society to admit that you can’t cope, but putting that brave face on every day trying to convince everyone you’re fine can be an added pressure you dont need. Your health is more important than anything else bro, not just physical but mental.

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I should probably just take self help singh’s advice

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You just showed me my new favourite philosopher :slight_smile:

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I’d agree with the sentiments of doing nothing or giving it time.
Even if you never play again, so what? You shouldn’t have to force yourself to play.

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you may also appreciate optimistic nihilism

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This guy is onto something :rofl: :hugs: :beers:

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