rising to the challenge

Been feeling some frustration the last couple of days, trying to write this film score into shape. I know this place well. It's a place I get to often with writing, painting, or composing... where it feels like what I have done is going nowhere, isn't jelling, isn't good enough. The mad editor inside starts running around screaming 'this isn't going to work and you are making a fool out of yourself!!!'

I've been thinking about it a lot today, and I know that part of this place is old programming, from the years I thought I was a worthless human being, hopeless at everything and there was no point in trying.

The other part is the creative process at work. We call it 'writer's block', reaching a dead end. I talk to my students about this place too... I tell them... you will go along for awhile, learning, and feeling the changes in you as you learn... and then you will plateau... and it's that place that separates the determined from the not. If you stay on the path, if you fill in the form, if you let yourself be in the same place day after day... if you keep going, something will shift, and you will make it through.

A good example is a runner. Every time they run, they run a 5 min mile. They can't seem to go any faster or cut any time. But they keep running, over and over. And one day, after many more runs... suddenly they realise they've run a 4.5 min mile. And the key is... the only way they would have got there, was to do all the runs before.

So I sit here, listening to yet another playback of the same section of the same score... and I tell myself to trust my inspiration to lead me. Trust my ear to hear what is needed. Trust my heart to know what needs to be expressed, and trust my instincts to choose the instruments to express it.

I saw one of my friends today and she asked how I was doing on the 'write 1,000 songs in 2 days challenge' ha ha. Since she asked, I'm on song #30 of the 50 songs in 90 days challenge. She said, 'I don't know how you do it, I write a song a year.' And I thought about that, and my answer is... I do it by... allowing myself to write whatever comes to mind, however silly, or bad, or convoluted or misshapen. And I write every day. That's the secret. Write every day. Not a hit song, not an award winning musical... just simply write something every day.

The experience of writing, like the runner running, will make a difference to your skill level and ability in the future. Pushing through the malaise & doubt is a kind of 'honing' of your creativity. Without doubt, there is no struggle. Without struggle, there is no change.

To me, rising to the challenge isn't that moment of stardom when Rocky won the big fight... it's every morning when he got up, drank raw eggs, and ran through the city. Sweat. Tears. Sweat again. That's the foundation of success.


on imperfection

If someone asked me the secret to my success, I'd say.... being absolutely willing to be not very good at all... on the road to being very good indeed.

If we can be where we are, assess where we are, and see where we want to go... then there is a strength in being 'not so good'. If we are passionate about learning what we need to learn & getting what we need to get, then we will walk the path from 'not so good' to 'better'. Along with that is the understanding that even when we reach our Nirvana of 'pretty good at this', we are still going to stumble and fall, write bad songs, paint poor pictures. But good or bad, they are a necessary part of our experience and growth. Enjoying the journey means accepting the little detours you make along the way :)