Getting to the Root of the Rut

Written by  on May 7, 2017 

I was awakened earlier than expected by my dogs this morning. So, I did what every responsible musician should do, deciding to take this extra 2 hours of daylight and do some writing, practicing or arranging. And the first hour ended up in the YouTube rathole. Some good stuff, but not exactly how I decided to spend my morning.

Ok, so one hour left: dive in. Which workstation app? Logic? Ableton? Garageband? Or continuing to evaluate Notion vs. Finale? Or just sit on the couch with the Novation Circuit? Hell, how about just playing some guitar?

And I realized: at this time, I have more creativity-enabling tools than I have creativity. Great.

After a few minutes, I was able to unpack the situation a bit.

  1. Too many options. It has created a barrier to focusing my energies.
  2. Even with all these tools, I don’t know any of them well enough to get into flow.
  3. At home, I have a standing-only desk. It’s great for practicing guitar/bass but not for keyboard work or serious thinking.
  4. The above-mentioned desk is a mess. It’s been worse, but it’s still not good.
  5. No collaborators. I’m in a ton of bands, but I’m not really collaborating in a creative capacity, at least not in a way that requires work at home.
  6. No active projects or goals. This is really the kicker right now. In the absence of active goals – ideally, with expectations set with or by collaborators or clients – I’m not forced to get to know my tools by problem-solving.

I’m generally not a person that creates art in a vacuum. I’m more skilled and happier as an arranger than as a composer or songwriter. So a lack of guardrails is not helpful. I have conceived of a number of projects to pursue, but the motivation is low.

Here are some potential actions I could take.

  1. Learning the tools, by attempting to solve the same problem in each. I have a number of songs where I have all the rhythm section parts scored out, so I’m thinking of sequencing one particular song in multiple apps, for the purpose of learning the nuances and evaluating ease-of-use for later, more creative work.
  2. Evaluating a sit-stand adjustable desk vs. stand-only. Looks like that would run around $1000 at the size I want. So, maybe just a taller chair, and clean the desk I have. There are some easy wins in cleaning up big items to get more space. (This will start as soon as I publish this.)
  3. Finding a collaborator to work with on a project, with actual goals and milestones, with mutual expectations and responsibilities. This one’s a little harder since it’s not entirely in my control to act on. I guess we’ll see who reads this? And what ideas we can come up with to pursue.

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