I have made a practice of setting aside the summer holiday weeks as a time for extended composition work and it has worked for me on several occasions. I usually begin with a sense of joyous expectation about having the time and space to create in a focused way. Once I get into the process however, I feel a sense of being stuck in a tunnel that I need to find my way out of. It took me a long time to find a way of dividing the time into short spurts of intensive focus, so I can still have a life outside of the work I’ve chosen to create.
Reading memoirs of other artists was helpful to me when I still needed to find out about myself and my mental stamina. Writers, composers and painters who dedicate a certain number of hours per day to their creative work are able to eventually find a sort of equilibrium in their routines. This approach can also be applied to other demanding projects, such as writing proposals, applications and sorting out one’s affairs.
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel when I have paced the journey in a manageable way is just as pleasing to me as the moments I tried to forge ahead with no time management plan. I do enjoy the fact that I can spend some of the time doing more frivolous things as well, without feeling guilty about not being productive enough.
There was a moment some weeks ago when I took a selfie of myself after a show, which I posted on Instagram . The photo captured the sense of relief I felt after countless early morning train journeys to other parts of the country to work on projects. I had managed to pull off a marathon task, with no major mishaps occurring on the way.
Anyone who looks at the photo just sees a person in a chilled out state. I see the serenity I feel sometimes when I have maintained discipline and focus over a considerable length of time and I know it’s time for prosecco and letting things hang out for a little while.