Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what skills and assets musicians require for continued growth and success. For me, I think it comes down to a combination of inspiration, motivation, empathy, expression, technique, artistry, discipline, commitment and focus. I’m probably leaving out a few things, but whenever I break it down, it seems to come back to these essential building blocks. Examining this list further, I think the one skill that interests me the most right now is discipline. It always seems so elusive to me. My discipline seems to come and go, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing…? Maybe that’s just how the creative process works? The more I investigate the more I believe that discipline works best when one feels inspired and motivated and has a simple goal in mind. I think it’s easier to create a habit when things are simpler and when tiny habits can be strung together into a routine. Right now my morning routine seems to be wake up, stretch, make tea and then sit in front of the computer and madly catch up on emails and get sucked into social media! However, I’m slowly trying to change that by being aware and present in the moment. Now, I don’t even allow myself to open my computer until my three important tasks are accomplished. For example, complete one business related item, one health related item (like heading to the gym), one musical/creative item (like start learning a new tune), and one household item (like folding laundry…hello!).
Again, what it comes down to for me is highlighting the habits that I already have and attaching other habits to those habits so it can become a natural, flowing routine. I think that’s where I’ve been the most successful. One of my larger goals right now is to start writing for my next album. In an ideal world I would spend at least two hours a day working on tunes and flushing out ideas etc... However, in “Dawn Land” this goal really means that I only sit down to write for two hours a week, or I write on the go and get little snippets here and there. My online gurus, guitarist Christine Bougie and Zen Habit’s creator Leo Babauta, would say that I need to adjust my expectation of how long I write for, and that the goal should be just to get my butt to the piano. So that’s what I’m gonna do. Wish me luck!
I read a fantastic book by Mason Currey called “Daily Routines: How Artists Work”, which was really affirming and enlightening. All of the great artists and musicians had similar simple routines that were punctuated by long walks and time with friends, colleagues or family. It all seems so civilized and balanced. I wonder how Picasso, Satie or Coltrane would have faired if Facebook was invented in their day? Ooo, that’s some food for thought!