It starts with one…

Sometimes people say things like “What difference could I make?” or “I will never be able to do that,” or “There’s no point in me even trying.” Statements like these are partly responsible for holding people back from doing amazing things. They are also words that prevent us making changes that would benefit our world. The resources earth holds are finite. If we continue to use them up at the rate we are, and effort is not made by everyone to change course, there will be little left to pass on to future generations.

A problem I have with projects I really want to complete is looking at the end goal right from the beginning. It’s nice to know where I am heading, but if I only look at these two spots, where I’m starting from and where I am trying to get to, the distance in between seems an immense chasm that is impossible to cross. Two projects I am working right now are recording a full album of music, twelve songs worth, and writing the entirety of a fantasy novel. I enjoy both activities immensely. And even though I still need a lot of practice to produce polished final products I think are worth showing to others, I am excited about this end goal.

One of the hardest parts of writing any type of book is finding a place to start. What do I write about? How do I come up with ideas? I am blessed to have a mind that loves creating characters, and worlds, and finding interesting ways to fit words together, all on its own. I was also lucky enough to be in a job for a number of months which afforded me time to write when work was slow. The problem for me has not been starting at the beginning, it has been continuing to start, and start again, near the middle. I have written fifty pages so far, and am interested in finding out what my characters will do – even though I’m the author! While I have fallen away from writing this novel at present, I have been spending a lot of time on another fantasy writing project. I am writing a diary from my character’s point of view in a Dungeons & Dragons adventure. This involves less imagining what I am going to write because the action has already happened, so is more about deciding which exciting words to use to describe our shenanigans with pomp and flair.  We usually play three weeks out of five so there is encouragement for me to keep up to date, and if we have a few weeks off the diary helps us all remember where we got to.

Thus, I have found a way to motivate myself, get stuck in, and stay stuck in.

The album that I am recording is a little different. Among my belongings I have over a hundred song thoughts and ideas, all in various stages of completion. Some are simply a few lines of lyrics. Some are chord progressions with lead guitar lines and an idea in my head about what the drums might be. Some are a catchy chorus with killer lyrical and melodic hooks. Some are fully fleshed out with guitars, bass, drums, and vocals, needing only to be recorded, mixed, and mastered. The problem I have with recording music is overcoming my fear that something is not good enough. That I’m not good enough. I spend too long recording and re-recording the same sections of guitar or vocals, instead of doing it well, finishing it, and moving on to the next part. I spend too long trying to find the exact guitar distortion tone I’m hearing in my head instead of finding one that sounds good, and getting stuck in to recording. This often has me listening to the same parts I’ve already recorded over and over again instead of creating new things. Graham Cochrane, an intelligent and helpful recording artist I follow from his YouTube channel recordingrevolution, says: find a tone, record the part, and move on. Make sure you’ve recorded it well and you’re happy with it, but don’t spend all your time trying to make it perfect or you’ll never finish a song.

Here’s a link to his channel, which I highly recommend if you are new to home studio recording like me:

Through watching his and others videos, and reading helpful articles, I am learning more effective ways of recording. Both the technical side and the practical side. Pushing through recording as much of a particular instrument in one session. Focus on playing cleanly. Practicing the skills I need to play or sing particular parts to become a better musican, not just better at recording the one part. My vocal control is improving, and my ability to record guitar and bass effectively, without pauses while changing finger positions for example, is also improving. I am learning new things every time I dive in, and it is extremely fun.

Neither writing this book nor recording this album are one step processes. Neither will be perfect. What they are going to be, before the end of 2020, is finished. When I listen to the songs on my album I will probably hear parts that could have been recorded better, or places I think the vocals sound pitchy. When I read my book I will probably notice sections I could have organised differently to make for more coherent and interesting reading. No matter the project this will always happen, it is part of being human.

I know you all have projects you are yearning to get stuck into. Go and take the first step. Then take the next one. Take some time to eat and sleep. Then take the next step. The process sounds simple because it is. What you are doing may not be simple, but it is achievable.

Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear readers. Peace.

Photo by Dom J from Pexels


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