As a music composer, your time matters. If you want to be efficient with your time and build long-lasting relationships with clients, it’s imperative to establish healthy daily habits. Here are 5 that have been game-changers in my life.
1. Read Non-Fiction Books. Real Books.
Yes, we live in a digital age. But when was the last time you cracked open a physical book and read it cover to cover? If you do nothing else on this list, my top encouragement is for you to establish a daily habit of reading non-fiction books. If you have the extra time, enjoy fiction books on the side — they’re great for expanding our imaginations & entertainment — but non-fiction books strengthen our weaknesses, offer fresh perspectives, and answer questions we haven’t asked yet. No other activity in life offers the same immense ROI (return on investment) for the small amount of time & energy given. I recommend setting aside 30 min. to and hour daily. It will change your life.
2. Practice Your Craft.
If you’re a composer, compose music every day. If you’re a screenwriter, write every day. If you’re a musician, play your instrument every day. The amount doesn’t matter. Just do it.
“Writer’s block” is a real condition. But it’s also a choice. Those who practice every day may not enjoy it every time, but they are getting better. Nothing replaces time & experience. As Thomas Edison taught us, there is value in learning 1,000 ways how not to make a lightbulb. I guarantee he knew exactly how to make a lightbulb every time after that.
3. Establish A Consistent Schedule.
Consistency is everything. Want to maximize your workflow? Schedule your life to function as you function best. Some people (myself included) tackle admin work best in the morning and creative endeavors in the afternoon. Others are most creative in the morning and lack energy in the afternoon. Introverts prefer solo work in the morning to be recharged so they can energetically meet with others and invest in relationships in the afternoon. Extroverts desire personal interactions immediately in the morning to be recharged to tackle personal pursuits later in the day. However you function best, establish a healthy rhythm in your calendar.
It’s also important to be flexible with your schedule to accommodate unexpected events & circumstances. If you work with an attitude that no one is an inconvenience, you’ll never be interrupted again. Maintain a consistent schedule as much as possible, but avoid rigidity.
4. Interact with Your Tribe.
One of the best ways to stay current and forward-thinking is to daily commune with others in your tribe. No one person has it all figured out. We need each other to succeed.
Technology has blessed us with countless avenues to interact with others: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, forums, etc. Find the “watering hole” where your tribe hangs out. Ask questions and join conversations. But most importantly — LISTEN. Perhaps one of the places for you to interact is the private Sonic Storytellers Facebook Group that I co-lead.
5. Research On the Go.
Imagine this: a film director or game developer approaches you as the music composer and describes their ideal sound for their latest story. How cool would it be if you had a database where after searching for one or two keywords — adjectives used directly by the creator (ie. cheerful, foreboding, warm, etc.) — a list of tracks appears with exact instrumentations used to achieve those moods with track URLs? And to top it off, they’re all tracks you love listening to! This is the power of good & consistent research.
What if every day you listened to 5 new music tracks while checking emails, reading articles, exercising, getting ready in the morning, eating meals, or driving? Not only will you be inspired every day listening to new music, but by keeping an organized database (I use an Excel spreadsheet easily accessible from my Desktop; but I would also encourage using Notes or Evernote on your mobile devices), you are preparing yourself to write better music with greater efficiency. While listening, jot down the date, album, track number, track title, URL source, instrumentation choices that stand out, and the resulting mood. If you do this for only 6 days, you’ll already have 30 diverse examples. Imagine doing this for a month (120) or a year (1,560)! Now that’s a serious database. I guarantee with this approach that the number of revisions asked by clients will lessen dramatically. This may be a game-changer for you.
The same concept applies for all media, not just music — watching TV shows & movies, playing video games, reading screenplays, etc. Whatever you’re already doing to research, make it concrete and useful for your future self by keeping records! Daily research the media that you desire to work on and you’ll be an expert in your field in no time.