The hardest part about practicing is opening your instrument case.
Having an actively creative life requires a certain amount of discipline. You have to schedule time in your life for your art, especially if art is not your full-time gig (ie. What pays the mortgage). You also have to create a physical workspace for you to create your art. Over the years I have created workspaces that have ranged from a bedroom closet to my current space that is the size of a studio apartment complete with a bathroom. No matter what your situation there are important factors to keep in mind so you can get the most out of your time and space.
The first rule in setting up a workspace is it has to work for you. There is little point in having a space that “looks” great but is completely impossible to work efficiently in. Everything needs to be within easy reach so you do not have to move things to get what you need at any particular moment. Having everything immediately available reduces frustration and keeps the inertia of creativity flowing. Over the years I have learned to preset equipment to make the most of what my time and space have offered me.
My second rule is no email or social media interactions until my creative work is done. One difficult email or one negative Facebook interaction can ruin the creative flow and make it harder to be productive. Even having my phone out in the open can be distracting. “I’ll just pop on Instagram” or “let’s see what is happening on Twitter”. Those sites are time and creativity destroyers. So social media and email take a backseat until my session is done.
That is easy to say but let me show you what that actually looks like.
This was my schedule this past Sunday Morning: (any morning really until 6:20am….)
Work before play – get the chores done so you can focus on being creative.
Wake Up @ 4:45am.
Feed the cat,
Wake up the computer and start the recording software.
Meditate for 10 minutes.
Make the bed and shower
Feed and walk the dog, start the woodstove, scoop and take out the cat litter.
Make oatmeal. Eat without distraction – no computer, no books, no phone, just focus on eating. I do this as a spiritual practice. Try it for a few weeks you wont regret it.
By 6:20 or 6:30am.
Kiss my daughters good morning.
Throw a log on the fire
(Time to play)
(During the workweek I am driving to school at this point and up until 3pm my day doesn’t look like this at all. I am teaching music at the middle school)
Go up into my studio.
Practice what I plan to record. Record it. (The microphones are already set up, the program is already loaded, and waiting for me to set the preamp to record)
Check the fire and talk to my daughters. I might go back upstairs into the studio to listen or tweak for a few more minutes before Angie comes up to make Chai.
Angie is probably making Chai at this point. I go downstairs and we have Chai together.
Listen to what I recorded. If it is problem free then I lay down the bass and piano parts. I probably do not finish them.
Pick food from our CSA, go to the grocery store for more Soy Milk (for the Chai), or do some other household errand. This is a break. It resets my mind and my ears and allows me to come back to the studio fresh.
Listen to the recorded parts. Dwell on them while I make dinner – chili in the instapot and rice in the rice cooker.
Replay or fix any problems with the bass and piano parts. Record the cello.
Load the recycling in the car. Take the dog with me and do the recycling.
Take the dog for a walk.
1:30 pm. Listen to the recording. Fix any performance issues with the cello. Make a rough master mix down to compare with the other tracks on the album. Read a book while I play the album in the background. If anything stands out in a negative way, I get up and fix it. I keep a notebook by my desk to write down any problems I do not fix so they get priority during the next work session.
Stop for the day and make a CD to play in the car for my morning drive.
Read email. Maybe check Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
3:30pm. Our band arrives and we have a kirtan from 4-5:30pm as part of the Yoga Teacher Training.
6:15pm dinner with the band. (This is late for us. Usually we eat around 4:30pm.)
7:30pm clean up after Yoga teacher training and dinner. (vacuum and mop the house, dishes put away) Walk the dog again.
8:30 – have a snack and type this blog post.
9:10 – get ready to sleep. Grab my book.
Saturdays and Sundays often look a lot like this but not always. Sometimes I have other kinds of household chores to do, and sometimes I spend much more time with my family. It depends, but having a basic schedule and a functional workspace makes my time more productive. And choosing not to read email or check social media first but instead last has untold benefits to my creativity.
I hope this useful.
Thanks for reading,