My music making resolutions & the art of keeping them
So let’s be honest.
How many of you already have put your new years resolutions in the shitter?
If you have given yourself something to do daily, from my experience, you have likely failed or have dropped the ball once in these first 6 days.
If this is you, why?
Think about this. Try to think about any positive habit that you have been able to form for a full 30 days without missing a single day. I have attempted this many times, but have succeeded very few. It takes serious mental effort to stick with something until it becomes 2nd nature.
Your first challenge to overcome is just how wrong it feels to break your daily habits. Even if you’re wasting your time with mindless tv or browsing the internet, to do something else during that time is difficult, especially if it’s creative. I seriously would start thinking about doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom or laundry, just to avoid the risk of sucking at my creative endeavors.
In November, my girlfriend and I challenged ourselves to eating a strict Paleo diet up until thanksgiving. I’m proud to say it was a success which felt really good to achieve. As often happens one success can create the momentum you need for another.
So with that in mind I felt more confident in taking on a creative challenge, but before I dove right in, I bought a book that had apparently helped writers a lot & read it front to back in a day. I highly recommend it, it’s called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This put a serious fire under my ass & made me as ready as I was gonna get.
The December (and beyond) experiment
Starting December 2nd (2013) I started an experiment as much for myself as it is for you, the music producer. This experiment was to challenge myself as well as all my readers to produce music for at least 1 hour a day, every day for as long as you can go. Each do you make a simple post sharing a snippet of the work you’ve done that day with the group & give us a brief description of your process for that day.
Results thus far
The experiment is still going currently, and the results have been pretty interesting.
In the first few days of starting this, I got a bunch of “I’m so in!”, “Let’s do this!”, “Count me in” comments. Many of which are yet to post any of their work over the past month. Several have put in the effort for a few days & then feel into obscurity. Still others have done their best to stay in the game, even though they miss a day here of there.
From the day this started, there has been 36 days. I counted a day for either posting a song, or commenting on what you completed that day. In that amount of time, here is how participation broke down:
85 people “liked” the post
7 people “shared” the post
50 People commented
Of those 50 people:
I made music 35 days (missed 1 day – Dec 26th)
1 person made music 29 days
1 person made music 25 days
1 person made music 15 days
1 person made music 7 days
2 people made music 6 days
2 people made music 4 days
3 people made music 3 days
4 people made music twice
11 people made music once
23 people didn’t post any music
As expected, the number of people who publicly committed vs those who followed through are pretty slim. The lower the number of days producing, the higher the number of people. None of us produced for the full 36 days, but I came the closest :-).
For me, this experiment proved that daily work on music not only increases your musical output, but it also improves the quality of your music. You truly do get better & although the process is never simple, I gets enormously easier the more you do it.
It seems that repetition of a skill is necessary for improvement. It’s like pushing a rock up a mountain. When you stop the upward motion it’s going to slip back downhill & you’ll likely have to rediscover that skill from the beginning again.
I can testify to this myself. In the past, I would write sporadically and then go through a huge time of being unmotivated or uninspired. The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to start again. I would stare at the screen not knowing where or how to begin. Sure, some creative instincts stay with you, but since they haven’t been regularly exercised, you won’t be on your game.
In the past 36 days, I have personally finished 7 songs. I might make some minor tweaks, but they are otherwise good enough to call done. I have NEVER finished this much music before. I’ve also been very happy with the results. My goal for years used to be to finish 1 song a month, 12 a year. When I would fail at that, I’d go for 6 a year. In actuality, I’d usually finish 2-3 songs, one usually being a remix, and if I’m honest now, every song was a struggle, with long periods of not having much fun.
The daily approach has put the fun back into the whole process!
Of course there are days that I don’t feel like working on music, but not making music is not even an option now. There are just too many unfinished ideas to get to. Now I don’t worry if the tune I am working on doesn’t come out amazing. I just put in my best effort, call it done and immediately jump on to the next song. When you are this productive, you become less worried about having a bum day or making a tune that isn’t a 10.
It’s much different when you are only making 1 song every few months. Each song matters so much, that the results can make or break your confidence in a big way. These days, my goal is more about beating resistance and procrastination. The rest just takes care of itself.
Daily progress of a recent remix
During December, I found myself finished with one song & looking for another when I caught wind of a Tears for Fears remix on Beatport. Considering the their album “The Hurting” is one of my all time favorites, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Below is my daily progress. It went through some big changes over the few days I spent on it. You just never know how something is going to turn out until it’s finished.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/125629689?secret_token=s-rvGxr” params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/125789854?secret_token=s-F90Al” params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/125979303?secret_token=s-J0JLF” params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126218094?secret_token=s-CbHQC” params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126773323?secret_token=s-Vfjeg” params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/126939406″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
There are several other songs you can see the progress on by myself and many others Here.
It’s totally free to join or browse & the benefits of daily practice simply can’t be understated. If you feel like you are off to a great 2014, this may be just what you need. I really look forward to see the transformations people make as we continue.
Happy Music Making,
For further motivation check out my best of 2013 post