Follow Through

Since falling out of academia, I’ve had trouble with follow through. I have great ideas, then I think, “Why bother? I have no means of getting my ideas out there.” It’s a huge problem for me. I’m sure it’s a huge problem for lots of people. But without audiences and deadlines and some sort of creative/intellectual exchange, how is it functionally different to just think through a musical idea rather than thinking through the idea and actually bothering to write it down?

Once you feel you’ve gotten all the intellectual fulfillment you’re going to get from the meta-composition, how do you make yourself follow through? It’s easy to fall into the trap of just thinking things through and then jumping to the next meta-composition. I’ve got an obscene quantity of meta-compositions stacking up on my back burner. They’re probably creating a fire hazard at this point.

Obviously, I know why I should bother. I really love what I do. Plus the act of actually writing the thing down really solidifies it. There’s feedback between the executed composition and the meta composition. In the end, you end up someplace different from where you started. If you’re lucky you learn something from the process. And on top of that, there might at some point be a performance opportunity; that complete lack of audience is illusory. Still, the lure of the next meta-composition is just so shiny. And it combines unhealthily with a perceived lack of audience.

So to the vast quantity of readers who have accumulated since I began my blog just yesterday: Outside of a collegial environment of musical exchange and feedback, how do you motivate yourself to do the thing you love? I’m hoping the act of blogging will help push me towards execution.

2 thoughts on “Follow Through

  1. I hope that you have the follow-through to blog (fairly) regularly. Congrats on the new space.

    I feel that urge to not follow-through all the time. Recently, I heard of an interesting model of defeating procrastination. If you can get started, give yourself a 5:1 ratio of work:distraction. It supposedly makes the work actually work better, which itself then lends towards getting started at working better. In fact, I’m in my “1” right now, and I’ll probably be getting back to the “5” momentarily. My project: authoring a How To book (I’m nearing getting done with the larger half, if that makes any sense.) and maybe can even finish that off tonight. We’ll see.

    • That’s a pretty good model. I think it’s pretty crucial to break up the work one way or another. Otherwise your attention flags and you work more slowly and you have no fun. When I was working on my dissertation, I used to work until I couldn’t stand it then set a timer for 15 minutes and play video games. Then back to the dissertation. As the project progressed (or as I got to more infuriating parts of the project), the work until I couldn’t stand it dropped from fairly respectable chunks of time to something more like 2 minutes. I’m hoping the discrete doable task helps combat that. It’s less open ended than until-I-can’t-stand-it, and it should reinforce actually working with a sense of accomplishment.

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