Research Note 011: Creating Contraints to Create

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Normally I get shit done, but with music composition I tend to take my time. That normally leads to other distractions and songs just don’t get finished. In fact, they barely get started, I have a melody or a rhythm kicking around in my head and I play it into Ableton and save it. That’s not a song it’s just a seed and needs arranging and structure and sound design.

I’ve decided to set myself some time constraints.

Here’s what the Ableton Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers, a fantastic resource, says:

  • Give yourself a deadline. Nothing motivates like a due date. Since work always expands to fill the available time, it’s necessary to actually put a limit on that time. If you find self-imposed deadlines to be too “soft,” try having someone else assign the deadline for you, with the requirement that you show them the work at the end to ensure accountability. Or engage in a collective challenge, such as February Album Writing Month.
  • Schedule tasks as if they were appointments with yourself. Try using a calendar to restrict specific types of work to specific times. For example:
    • Sound design: 7-8pm
    • Form/song structure: 8-9pm
    • Mixing: 9-10pm Timeboxing specific tasks serves two purposes: It forces you to narrow your focus while simultaneously eliminating the risk of non-musical distractions (Facebook, etc.). You wouldn’t check your email in the middle of a business meeting, so treat these “appointments” with the same kind of care.
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Research Note 010
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Research Note 12: Timeboxing for Music

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