This post is for my fellow composers and creatives who feel the unbearable weight of inertia as much as I do.
I'll speak for myself here: This is really uncomfortable to admit, but I have trouble working. It sucks. I'm a composer and yet I spend more time languishing, planning, fretting, troubleshooting, shooting down my own ideas, and feeling guilty than I actually do composing. It's a hard truth, but I gotta accept it. Both my greatest strength and weakness is my mastery of the art of deliberation.
I'm tired of it, or at least I need a break from it this month. I have dozens of personal projects and pieces in progress, a lot of great opportunities scheduled for the next 6 months, and more commissions lined up right now than I've ever had in my life (YAY)! -- These are all blessings, of course, but, well...now I have to (get to) actually do them.
I'll get to the point: A lot of writers I know participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November, and I would like to do a composer-y spin-off of that. NaMuCoWriMo, if you will. (That's National Music/Composition Writing Month, if that wasn't obvious.)
I'm sure someone else can come up with a better title, but NaMuCoWriMo sounds generic enough to be flexible. I want to use the month of November to do one composition per day. It doesn't have to be an epic, big, real thing. I'm thinking little exercises, various challenges and prompts to get me out of my comfort zone. If I have a week-long project in mind, that's fine too, as long as I'm making sufficient tangible progress every day. I'm posting this blog for accountability. If I write the intention, it becomes more real, right?
***This post has already changed 3 times, from NaMuWriMo to NaCoWriMo, and now NaMuCoWriMo, due to it being uncharted territory on Twitter, which makes it easier to hashtag and accurately check up on each other's progress.***
Here are some guidelines and general thoughts for myself this month:
- I must compose every day.
- I must produce "something to show for it." It can be a scratch recording, a sheet of handwritten paper, a page in Sibelius, a 1-minute Ableton file, really does not matter.
- Nothing I compose has to be "good."
- Ok, because I know I won't listen to the previous rule, I hereby give myself express permission to write REALLY CRAPPY STUFF. This will make me more comfortable exploring new territory.
- I'm not going to be concerned with "what is music?" and "does this count as music?" or "is this a serious work?" or any genre or other nitpicky bullshit. I don't care about weird standards like "50 bars of notation" or "5 minute run-time" or whatever.
- I don't have to post my creations on my blog, but hey, I might from time to time! I think it would be really cool to document these terrible little compositions, but I also don't want to impose another ritual on myself, since I'm busy enough already. So I'm gonna go with no imposition for now. I'll just see how I feel as it goes.
- I'm actually probably going to be sharing this stuff on my Patreon, because I do want to share, but I don't necessarily want everything public. Become a patron here.
- Oh, I'm allowed one day off per week. So if I really really need to skip a day, I will.
- Re-evaluate these guidelines from time to time and shift anything that isn't working well.
- I'm absolutely positive that I'm going to want to change one of the guidelines. Totally cool and good.
- If you want to join me, cool. If I'm totally alone in this, cool. But let me know if you do do it! Maybe we can just post on a group or thread or use the #NaCoWriMo hashtag on Twitter/FB just to say "I did my thing today."
- I was really back and forth between NaMuWriMo and NaCoWriMo, but idk, I guess my flavor of the minute is now Co (composition) rather than Mu (music), because I hate boxing myself into a genre too much (lol). ***edit: As you can see above, the people joining me on Twitter have persuaded me to use NaMuCoWriMo, for hashtagging reasons. 😉
The hardest thing about this will be shushing the deliberation monster that turns me into this absurd perfectocrastinator. I'm going to really need to embrace self-acceptance and "let it be" and "just let the piece go." It is in that spirit that I took the super snazzy photo of myself at the top of the post. Literally me now, just looking oh so fashionable and put together as I write this blog. I hope my mini-compositions this month espouse the vibe of that photo -- unpolished, unplanned, and unedited, but at the end of the day, totally fine.