Time management and artistic output
Here’s a thought (primarily directed at creative types, but hopefully may be of interest to anyone). Imagine that you were able to work on your creative endeavours full-time, how many albums / projects do you think you could complete in (say), a year and then try to look further ahead into the future regarding your intended / expected productivity ? From my own experience things have panned out differently than what I intended. I’ve found that time ‘invested’ doesn’t necessary relate to artistic output. Regarding the maintaining of ideas and inspiration over time, a significant factor is that most artists will have a significant ‘pool’ or backlog of material that they’ve been working on for years which that may be relatively easy to complete, but after that initial ‘push’, what then ?
I’ve been working on my material since 1999, (then part-time) and now for the last 8 years full-time. Thankfully, I’ve not hit a significant artistic block and I’ve been able to release work throughout that period. I should say that from a time management perspective, when I was working part-time on my music, I actually got more done (particularly in 2003) than I do now, in terms of releasing and working on a number of side projects at the same time. I should also say that my circumstances changed significantly as well, which meant I was working almost exclusively in isolation. However, I’m now looking more to the quality side of my output.
One thing that is uppermost in my mind regarding my work, is that I strive for a sense of improvement / new exploration with each release. I’m a fan of life long learning. If I felt everything I released was great, I wouldn’t see the point of carrying on, to be honest. It’s this quest for artistic refinement that is one of my main motivators. I hate to repeat myself (even though I know that I do do this) and I try to change my work flow often to try to prevent this. I try to think about what I’d aspire to achieve artistically. Nothing is ever ‘complete’ – it’s all work in progress for the time period in which it was created. Sometimes I feel I should release more, but in a over-saturated genre, my current plan is to release 1 or 2 albums a year (saying that, each album is getting progressively longer in duration), In a way I’m grateful that I don’t have baying hords of fans expecting 6 albums a year !
As to the future, who knows ?, I’m still highly motivated to carry on creating, as this is something I feel I’ve been working up to all my creative life. At this point, it’s just something that I do (pretty much) every day. I have to say that the thought of not being able to carrying on creating, isn’t one I relish. As I’m currently able to create, I try to be as productive as I can, but as I’ve mentioned here, I feel I could use my time better sometimes. On the subject of time management and distractions, internet time-wasting is my biggest issue and this could certainly be addressed. I don’t watch much TV and I don’t play games (well just a couple of games of chess daily), so other than that, I’ve no significant distractions to speak of, apart from looking after my hound ‘Maxa’ who is increasingly needy in her dotage (which is time well spent, as far as I’m concerned).
So for me, artistic output is not ‘linear’, relative to the time spent – I’ve spent ages working on some things that never worked and very little time on other things that did. I’ve found that there can be a lot going on ‘below the surface’ in terms of experimentation and learning and the actual execution of an idea can be actually quite quick. I’ve also found that the accrued time of constantly working keeps the creative brain ‘well oiled’ and time ‘invested’ is never wasted. Working to deadlines certainly concentrates the mind (I’ve had commissions and the like), but working to your own deadlines (over time) is the key. I find I work much better when I’m at the mastering stage, perhaps as it’s not really creative as such and is more like ‘work’. Overall, I think this is an area where some longer-term thinking is required and self discipline in prioritising time is critical.
So time to get back to that latest track, Pete !