Archive for Fear

Songwriting Challenge – 52 Songs, 52 Weeks

Posted in Songwriting, Songwriting Challenge 2012 with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2012 by Gideon K

I’ve decided to do a songwriting challenge. Why would I do such a thing?


I love missions.


Since doing the artist’s way, I’ve gotten somewhat hooked on the feeling of growth and measuring progress, and more to the point, it seems to work for me. As I was coming to the end of the 90 day post-course agreement I was considering what to do next. I hadn’t managed to meet all of my targets and personal goals and was frankly a little worn out with everything.


During the last 6 months, I did not get as much songwriting done as I had either intended to or hoped for and thought that this should be top of my priorities. Incidentally, I spotted several mentions of people who were doing them and how it is a way of forcing yourself to learn and grow a lot in a relatively short space of time. What could be better?


I’ve tried doing songwriting challenges before, one not even that long ago. But none of them went well. The last one I tried for instance was 30 songs in 30 days – one per day. I was setting myself up for failure. Firstly real life and work etc do not allow one with that luxury everyday (at least not me,) and even when they did I often ended up writing throwaway stuff that was slight in all areas. The time frame was way to narrow considering I have certain songs of mine that have taken a year to write, another took about 2 years from start to finish.

Secondly, I was starting from scratch each time, which was silly considering how much raw material I already have stashed away, and what a backlog I have of started pieces to work from. So it did not last more than 3-4 days before I kicked that one in the head.


This time I thought I might research other challenges that other people have done, and make my mind up after I’d researched it. But nothing was happening that way, and I still haven’t researched them that thoroughly. Instead I realised that I just need to start doing it, and everything will sort itself out as I go along, as and when needed.


So, starting the week of Sunday 12th February 2012 I’ve started a new challenge. For the next 52 weeks I will be setting myself the target of finishing one song per week. I knew it was the right thing to do when the prospect of it filled me with raw excitement and fear.


Luckily, I have lots of work to choose from. If I finish exactly 52 songs, I’ll still have many unfinished pieces, scraps, and ideas to work through. I’ve often heard artists say how they always feel that they are playing ‘catch-up’ with themselves, and always lagging behind. I don’t doubt that for a moment or think it is a different feeling for anyone. It gives me hope and encouragement in fact as there is always something to do.


I can’t wait.


The Guidelines of my challenge are as follows:

–          Complete one song by the end of each week.


–          Each completed song should be demoed in some rough manner – ie voice and accompaniment on guitar, bass, keys or whatever, even acappella, full arrangement or a live band take, so long as the song is documented being played from beginning to end.


–          The songs can be anything at all as long as I have learned something by doing them.


–          One pavlovian reward to be used the next week after each week completing a song, for each completed piece.


–          I should, and will, look for challenges from old ideas, other songwriters and other challenges


–          Stay inspired and invigorated by researching the subject and investigating, by allowing a constant stream of good music, reading, and exercise.


–          Nothing should stop me from writing and pursuing my art and using this quest as a means or source of self-discovery, learning, enlightenment, meditation, prayer, self-therapy, sharing, spreading love, and giving thanks to creation for the spot I’ve been allowed to hold in it.


I’ll let you know how it goes.




Un-Crippling Creativity

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by Gideon K

This post was sparked by something a friend said to me:


“I was writing something else yesterday and then watched ‘Midnight in Paris’ (Woody Allen). The genius of that film and the portrayal of genius within it completely paralysed me creatively. You ever get that? What do you do?!?!?!”


The answer is yes, sometimes I think that happens to everyone.

I haven’t seen that film so can’t comment on that, but even though true genius can be pretty intimidating, I think I’ve generally found ways around that issue.

Here I’ve broken this issue down into four areas that affect us as creatives.



Being intimidated by artistic greatness is a bit like being in the school playground afraid to play ball with the big boys, or even to play ball by yourself simply because everyone else seems better and has had more experience doing it. You’re worried that everyone will laugh at you or pick on you for it. Really, it’s by putting in the time regardless of outcome and solely for the purpose of getting better that you stand a good chance of outshining the masters anyway.


No one really has any greater artistic resources to draw upon than anyone else, it’s just a matter of what people let stand in their way – even if they put the obstacles there themselves.



Once you recognise that it is fear that is holding you back one way or another, the way to conquer it can be as simple as deciding that none of it matters. All the stuff about who and what is better than anything else is just dry academia and nothing to do with the real process.


Be kind to yourself.


Give yourself permission to fail. And fail repeatedly until you succeed.


Know that your mission is only to explore, to keep growing, to share your creativity. When you have fixed ideas about who you are, what you are supposed to be and what your creativity is supposed to be like, then you start to censor yourself.



As much as it can make us feel shitty when we compare something and find our work lacking in some way, it’s important to take on board the lesson that the world is trying to teach you – that you’ve got a lot to learn and a long way to go. That should be inspiring in itself because you know you have a journey to make, but someone has just shown you the map. It’s far worse to be lost in the dark without a clue what to do to improve or which way the light is for you to grow towards.


I find the quote below very powerful in dispelling any of the excuses we give ourselves not to try.


“The notion of the past as somehow representing certain limitations for you today is bogus.

I used to have so much reverence and respect for the great accomplishments of past artists that it stifled me into thinking, “Gee, I could never do any of this.” But the whole point of making music is that it’s an expression of who you are, be it angry, happy or sad. If you can somehow reflect that musically, you’ve achieved something.”

– Billy Corgan




When your mind starts doing funny things, often the best way to counter it is just to take some action.


Here is an excellent article by Steve Pavlina about Passion vs Self-Discipline where he argues that it is more important to take the actions regarding doing the work than whether you feel like it or not.


One of the mantras from The Artist’s Way that I’ve been trying out, despite being hugely skeptical of it is this – you say to whatever muses or higher power you hold to – “Great creator, I will take care of the quantity. You take care of the quality.”


I think what I’m seeing from this, and what should be obvious in a way, is that you treat it all as one big stream of creation. If you do lots of work, there’ll be plenty of great stuff in there.


Take Woody Allen – he doesn’t even watch his own films when they’re done. He moves onto the next one already.

This may be an assumption on my part but it is as if each film is the manifestation of a creative urge and once completed he has satisfied that need and moved on. How other people view it is almost irrelevant to him at this point.

Some of his films get savaged, others are considered great works. I’m sure he has his own views on which are his best and worst pieces, and those views are no less or more important than anyone else’s.

The point is that the work gets done and the energy to produce them gets spent on creating rather than inflicting damage on himself by worrying about how they might turn out to be unpopular etc.


None of it matters as long as you can find someway to share your creative energy and put it out there.


Keep playing and being playful.