Pros and Cons on Parole

Having read Dale Carnegie’s old classic ‘How to win friends and influence people’ I came across an interesting piece of advice from one of his subjects.

This guy would take some time, be it half an hour, or a couple of hours, every Sunday evening without exception, and without distraction, he would sit and ask himself:

“What mistakes did I make that time?”

“What did I do that was right – and in what way could I have improved my performance?”

“I often find that this weekly review makes me very unhappy. I am frequently astonished at my own blunders. Of course, as the years have gone by, these blunders have become less frequent. Sometimes now I am inclined to pat myself on the back a little after one of these sessions. This system of self-analysis, self-education, continued year after year, has done more for me than any other one thing I have ever attempted.

“It has helped me improve my ability to make decisions – and it has aided me enormously in all my contacts with people. I cannot recommend it too highly.”

I took this to heart and thought it would be an interesting way to experiment with creativity.

SO I took a little notebook and set it aside for this purpose only.

Each week, at the end of it, I would sit down and make a brief list of pros and cons actions I’ve taken that relate to my creativity and output. Then underneath that, a brief list of the things I wish to achieve during the coming week.

The following week I would tick off the things I’ve done from that list, then make another list of positive things I had done, and negative ones, and another list of things I’d like to achieve in the coming week.

Personally, I like to start with the positives as it feels much nicer, and it’s easier to get stuck into the task if you’re being asked to list the things that will make you feel proud – a sense of achievement.

Following up with the marks against you is easier I find, because it stops me walking off with an ego as I’m left focusing on what I didn’t do, and how to make it better. Same with the pros – once you’ve written what you did right you then have to find a way to better it.

I did this for a while, occasionally missing a week or two, but generally it didn’t seem to work for me as well as it could’ve, or I hadn’t picked up the habit properly.


Anyway, after this I started doing the artist’s way, and there is a post-script to the 12 weeks of the course. It doesn’t finish, it never does. Your work, especially on yourself is never really done.

What it does encourage is that you find an artist friend who you can be accountable to and once a week have a phone in or conversation about what your targets were for the week and how you are going to do them, and if you don’t call them, they have to call you.

I loved this idea and thought it was great. It’s not the only book I’ve read or advice I’ve heard which suggest starting your own support circle, but it has been the most recent.

I’ve given it a shot, but again, it has been hard to keep up, both on my side and theirs. However I’m all about dusting yourself off, and rather than artistic struggle being about not falling down, it’s continually about picking yourself up when you do, so I’m writing this post, then I’m writing a check-in to send to my friend who is essentially my artistic parole officer, and telling them what I have planned for this week ahead and how I’d like to see out the rest of 2011.

I’ll share some of it with you so that if I don’t keep to my word I’ll be visibly failing and accountable to the world.


I have a number of different ideas for drastic reinterpretations of other people’s songs, some of which I’ve started or mostly finished months ago, but haven’t gotten round to finishing tweaking and mixing them. I can do the fun bit very quickly, but when it comes to the ‘nerd’ bit I slow down. However, I will have at least one production up online before new years. That is my aim.

Album tracks:

Having already recorded half an album’s worth of songs, and having 5 of them online ( I now have to finish the other half of the album which means fully demoing and arranging all the other songs that are ready, and completing the writing of the other works in progress. There are 4 tracks in particular that require me doing a lot of work on them to demo so that they would be ready to take into the studio when the time comes, but although I’ve started on 2 of them I really should be further along. I’ll be working more on these this week.

Performance Videos:

I’ve been messing about with home video and live footage of recent gigs, including some stuff which goes back months. I want to get at least some of this edited and online by next week.

I don’t expect to finish all of it, but I’m going to make some damn good headway into it.

Wish me luck…


One Response to “Pros and Cons on Parole”

  1. Good luck Gids! We’re rooting for you. I’m proud to share genes with you.

    I can recommend some other books if you’re interested…

    Just be yourself and you’ll be the best.

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