Thoughts & Observations

Fear of the Sophomore Album

I’ve realized over time that I’m usually not afraid the first time I do something.

At that point, I don’t have much to lose.

At that point, people are less likely to have expectations of me. If I’m awful, it won’t really matter.

If I fail, the only thing that can happen next is that I’ll get better.

When the fear really starts setting in though, is after the freshman effort.

It’s the curse of the artist who puts out an amazing first album.

Now that’s what everyone expects from them. Even if that first album took them ten years to make, the world expects them to deliver an outstanding sophomore album as a quick follow up. The bar has been set.

The fear of the sophomore album paralyzes people. And it makes them get away from the pure, organic artistry and creativity that drove them in the first place.  They test the merit of their ideas and their creations against the expectations and desires of others. The fact that people are paying attention now increases the threat of judgement.

Getting over this hump feels more difficult because it’s a surprise. You’ve proven that you can do something great, so it seems like it should be easy for you to do something great again. Your own expectation of ease added to the expectations of others can make creating anything feel impossible.

So what do you do?

You shut out those opinions as much as you can. You create what you would naturally feel compelled to create if you were free from expectation. You sit down and work. And before too much time passes you hit send. Or print. Or publish. You just go.

And if everyone hates it, so what. Your authenticity matters more. And you won’t be a sophomore for long.


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