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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

4 Months In – Song/Week Project Quarterly Progress Report


Not sure about this whole song-per-week thing still.  One other songwriter and myself each post one online every week then do a brief critique.  As I blogged about a while back, submitting on a deadline goes against my previously-established grain of the last 25 years or so of songwriting.  I typically go through droughts, waiting for the muse to show up, then write songs until it leaves again, and over the course of a year, end up with a handful of keepers.

Now forcing myself to write a song every Tuesday night for about 4 months hasn’t produced any keepers at all.  I keep telling myself it is keeping the skills fresh or something like that, but in reality, it isn’t working.  I wait until the deadline, then crank out a lame song in about a half hour, record it, post it, get negative comments about it which are not surprising.  I know the songs are no good when I share them, and I already know why they aren’t good.  Negative feedback from the other guy only makes you feel worse about what you already knew.

This makes me understand more about why many artists have a policy to never read any press reviews of their creative work.  Then I realize that before the weekly songexchange club, indeed I had to write a bunch of non-keepers before getting a keeper.  There’s a ratio at play in this process I accepted long ago.  The difference is over the years, you learn to self-evaluate pretty well.  So, if every week you have a song you’ve already weeded out based on your own standards, and then you offer it up for confirmation, its asking for someone to make the situation worse, which is not a confidence-booster.

Usually, I wait until the urge strikes, when I actually feel like writing songs again, and then for several days or weeks I get a few great ideas along with some that aren’t so great.  If I get a couple keepers out of a flurry of feeling like writing, that tides me over during times that inevitably show up when I don’t really feel like it.  I’ve got to be in the right frame of mind, and it’s unpredictable what makes that happen.  I guess I’m riding out a dry spell by continuing to write even though the muse isn’t present.  I just hope it doesn’t prevent the muse from showing up again.  I worry that this is bad mojo and will somehow deter the good stuff from entering into the picture.

Then I think again about those writers who have a publishing contract to produce on a fairly regular schedule.  Maybe those deals don’t even exist anymore in today’s music business, but I wonder if I could handle that type of pressure, even if I had an advance to live on and didn’t need the day job.  It’s as if you’re a salesman working on commission with a big loan to pay off.  Takes a certain personality – someone who knows it’s a numbers game, has patience, keeps plugging away without letting it get him discouraged along the way.  I probably don’t have that type of personality.  I suspect I would either get mad or depressed if I didn’t get sales for a while.

I’m going to stick with it, see if any gold pans out.  Maybe grinding it out will pay off with benefits I don’t yet realize.