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Compose something every day

Posted on Sep 06 2011

The best way to make sure you get the most from your talent is to use it. So, write a piece of music every day. This doesn’t need to be extravagant or even complete, rather just put your first thoughts down on paper, HDD, disc, etc. Make composing part of your daily routine. Not everything you do will be “good”, but the exercise will yield some bits and pieces that you can later turn into something special.

The artist who aims at perfection in everything achieves it in nothing.

Eugene Delacroix

Too many people believe they must be in a creative mood to compose. It’s infinitely easier to procrastinate than to just start working. I fall prey to this distraction occasionally myself. But I’ve learned to work through it. You can’t be seduced by this unfortunate behavior either. You must banish those “ifs” and “buts” and start writing. That’s the key. Just begin and see where it takes you.

The ride can be frustrating. Or it may be inspired. Don’t worry about style or if you are composing something worthwhile. Write first to please yourself. If you let your inner voice of judgment interfere with your creative flow, you severely inhibit your work as an artist. Turn off those messages in your head.

Let yourself go and don’t be guided by rules of right or wrong. Just start playing and let your intuition guide you. The Taoists call this state Wu Wei, doing without doing. Acting without effort. You become completely absorbed in the task and ignorant of the world around you. And while you do nothing, nothing is left undone.

In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.

Robert Schumann.

Have you ever been so involved in your work that you lost all track of time and place? The next thing you knew, hours had passed and you couldn’t remember what happened. And during that time you were focused, creative, enthusiastic, and productive. It came easy, right? Effortless. The words and music just flowed out onto the page … through your fingers … into the computer. That is Wu Wei. The marriage of childlike fascination and imagination to raw skill and talent all wrapped up in a fountain of creativity. It flows. Like water. In waves.

By far, the toughest part of writing music is learning to be creative on demand. You can’t always write just when you ‘feel’ like it. Music is both art and craft. You can learn and practice the craft aspects. Get into a routine. Write at the same time each day. If you are especially strong in the morning, get up a little earlier and start composing. Late night your strength? Set aside an hour before going to sleep just so you can capture your energy in a musical sketch. You must find the method that works for you!

Regardless of your working method, make sure you practice, too. Don’t confuse doodling around with being serious and truly creative. You must expend some energy and use some time to sharpen your skills. I play and goof around all the time. And I set aside time to seriously compose, too. I go back and listen to my doodles and transform them into stronger more structured pieces. This keeps me fresh and original.


  1. Jon Coble says:

    One thing I realized is that others might like something I wrote that I don’t. While reviewing my endless amount of uncompleted work (“uncompleted work” – bad habit I know) my listening daughters or wife will say they like one works that I’m reviewing.

    While I’d rather work on something I can be passionate about, it doesn’t mean that my other work should be shelved.

  2. Aila says:

    Awesome post…thanks for posting.