Drawing by Jessica Abel
When you juggle day job and music (especially if you enjoy more than one music project), it's a challenge to keep things going. There's gigs to book and rehearsals (to power through after a long day at work) and keeping up when you have to go out of town on business trips. It's hard to keep producing..you know, actual songs. This is something I've wrestled with for a while. And one of the reasons I'm always reading up about creative productivity. One of the best, most effective things I've done in this realm is taking the Creative Focus Workshop with comic book writer and artist and teacher, Jessica Abel. Twice! Yeah, I needed to go through it again to get some things through my skull because it is an intense REALITY CHECK.
Jessica gently guides you through the process of identifying your own personal creative rhythms and flows and then jiving them with your reality. One of the exercises is to track your time for a couple of weeks and then actually lay out your 'ideal week' - not just your creative time and your day job time, but ALL of it. The weekend brunch, the nights out, or especially time watching TV and (my big bugbear) surfing that oh-so-tempting Internet.
The first time through, I kinda got stuck in that module, flailing around in a mental loop of knowing what I wanted to fit in a day and not seeing enough time slots. I would just keep staring at it thinking it would finally magically expand just an hour or two more. Or I could just not sleep.
But I'm a woman of a certain age - I need my sleep!
This time around, it took me longer than scheduled, but I finished the course! And actually got real (well, more real) about my schedule. Another aspect of the course is you define one goal for a six week period. You make it measurable and a balance of challenging but do-able.
Mine was writing and demo'ing 5-6 songs and adding them to a private soundcloud playlist by May 8th.
Sooooo, did I make it??
Kinda. I got 4 songs to the point of making a demo and posted them last night. Ugh, I berated myself, can't you just squeeze out one more to reach your quota? But then I realized: hey, I've got 4 new songs! A couple might be good for Silver Cloud Express and a couple are good for my solo stuff!
I was pretty chuffed with myself!
It wasn't easy, I will admit. Many, many times, I just didn't feel like digging deep first thing in the morning, or firing up Logic after already spending all day at my desk.
But I finished some songs in (for me) record time! HURRAH!
The workshop is over but will be offered again at some point and you can sign up to learn when. In the meantime, Jessica posts amazing advice on her blog all the time and if you struggle with finding the time and energy to consistently focus on creative goals, do yourself a favor and sign up for her mailing list. Nope, I'm not even being paid to say this or offering an affiliate link or any of that. It's just such a blessing to find a way to keep doing the work that's the MOST important to my soul.
(oh and what about those 4 new songs? gonna share it with us?)