Build something small - Most people fritter their time away on things that don’t matter, like TV, video games, social media, reading news. A year of that and you have nothing to show for it. But if you did a sketch every day, or started writing web app, or created a blog or a video channel that you update regularly, or started building a cookie business … at the end of a year you’ll have something great. And some new skills. Something you can point to and say, “I built that.” Which most people can’t do.
Start small, and build it every day if possible. It’s like putting your money in investments: it grows in value over time.
It's no real secret that I'm, at least lately, a lazy slacker. Going back over the posts I did last month (!), it struck me how much I got done between March 1998 and November 2001, and even in the few years from 2002 through 2006. It would really be easy to blame having kids on the slowdown, but I was still working on music AND running a shop and two labels when they were youngest. Looking back now, I think I let that be my cover excuse to just... slow down, stop, whatever.
It also didn't help that I started isolating myself from musical immersion. Cutting out the shop, then a label, then dropping off most of the boards and other timewasters I spent a good deal of (read: way too fucking much) time was good in other ways, but just being immersed in music, listening to it, talking about it, kept it at the forefront of my thinking. I actually spent time thinking about changes I wanted to make to how I do things, musically speaking - I gained a clearer vision of what I want.
However, even those modest changes came with a deal of fear, uncertainty, and doubt - could I do what I wanted? Would it work the way I wanted it to? One of the themes that Leo blogs about constantly is that people let these fears delay them, encouraging avoidance and procrastination - and it's only recently that I've noticed that. I want the next Death Beast album to be a monster, a juggernaut that crushes the first one - but I'm afraid it won't work, so as long as I don't start on it I won't be faced with failing it.
However, my video game skills have improved greatly. Which is where the quote above hit me like a sledgehammer.
I've been reading Zenhabits for a few months, working on small and larger changes in my personal life and at work, and thinking about how to bring it to my music - but, again, never quite starting. When I posted a few blog posts last month I was trying to get some kind of habit going - at least staying connected to music. The dates of the last few posts and this one show you how well that worked out. So, when I read the quote above, I figured it's time to really get to work.
So, every day, I'll spend ten minutes on music. Programming something, or noodling on the guitar, or writing down lyrics, or at least contributing to this blog or putting more of the UHR archive up on the Internet Archive site. I can defend the last two because, for the biggest part of my more creative musical years, the music I wrote and recorded fit into this larger context of Unsung Heroes Records, and later Barbarian Wrath - since I retreated from music I've been largely unengaged with the public. I'm not entirely sure that the one will help the other as it did in the past, but doing something is still better than doing nothing.