Olivia Rodrigo Felt 'a Lot of Pressure' Writing 'Guts,' Wondered If It Would 'Be Good Enough' After 'Sour' (Exclusive)

The pop star opens up to PEOPLE about how she approached creating her second album 'Guts'

<p>Theo Wargo/Getty</p> Olivia Rodrigo at SiriusXM Studios in New York City in September.

Theo Wargo/Getty

Olivia Rodrigo at SiriusXM Studios in New York City in September.

When you kick-start your career with a chart-topping album and multiple Grammy Awards, where do you go from there?

That was the dilemma Olivia Rodrigo faced as she sat down to write the follow-up album to Sour, her smash 2021 debut record.

“For the first few months of writing Guts I was dealing with a lot of noise in my head about whether it was going to be good enough or whether I could ever top what I did on Sour,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue of her first album’s long-awaited successor, which came out on Friday. “It definitely adds a lot of pressure.”

It’s understandable why Rodrigo, 20, might feel the weight of the world on her shoulders. The star was just 17 years old when she released her debut single “Drivers License” in 2021, and all but unprepared for the way in which the ballad — which has now been streamed more than 1 billion times on Spotify — would change her life forever.

<p>Brian Friedman/Variety/Penske Media via Getty </p> Olivia Rodrigo at the 2022 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

Brian Friedman/Variety/Penske Media via Getty

Olivia Rodrigo at the 2022 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.

Related: Olivia Rodrigo Says Her Favorite 'Guts' Song Changes Daily — and Shares Her Go-To Spotify Playlist (Exclusive)

It went on to win best pop solo performance at the Grammys, while Sour won her best new artist and best pop solo album trophies. When it came to writing Guts, its follow-up, Rodrigo teamed back up with her producer and songwriting partner Dan Nigro, and says she did her best to, well, follow her gut.

“I had to switch my mindset into just trying to write songs that I would like to hear on the radio and not trying to beat anything or achieve any sort of commercial success,” she says. “Then it became a lot more fun, and the music became a lot better.”

Rodrigo says she also found unexpected ways to alleviate pressure, like spending time with Nigro’s 18-month-old daughter Saoirse.

“If we were ever feeling stressed out, we would go and hang out with his baby, and immediately I’d be like, ‘Okay, I don’t need to worry about what people on Twitter are going to say. This is beautiful, and this is what life’s all about,’” she says. “It would normally cure our writer’s block.”

<p>Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for YouTube</p> Olivia Rodrigo at YouTube Space in Los Angeles in June.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for YouTube

Olivia Rodrigo at YouTube Space in Los Angeles in June.

Related: Olivia Rodrigo Says She Felt 'Ill-Equipped' for the Media Attention She Received After 'Drivers License'

So far, it’s clear Rodrigo had little to worry about. Gutslead single, “Vampire,” a piano ballad about a manipulative ex that swells into a rock anthem, hit No. 1 upon its release, and has been streamed nearly 350 million times. Then its grungy second single, “Bad Idea Right?” cracked the Top 10.

Though both songs center on an ex who behaved questionably, a central theme on Sour, Rodrigo is certain that her songwriting has grown since her first record.

“When I wrote my first album, I was 17. I think everyone is super insecure at 17 and doubting themselves constantly. Am I talented? Can I do this?” she says. “[Now] I’m a lot happier, and I take myself a lot less seriously. I trust my gut more, and I trust my intuitions.”

Rodrigo released Guts on Friday and spent the night before her album release surprising fans in New York City at the Guts Gallery pop-up experience, hosted by Spotify and American Express.

For more on Olivia Rodrigo, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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Read the original article on People.