What finishing a song a week taught me about workflow?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and for a long time, I thought this was a good thing. That was until I read a quote recently that stated:
Done is Better than Perfect
Initially, I was skeptical. When I applied it to music-making I thought to myself I would rather have things perfect than simply completed. Who wants a mediocre piece of work that is done over an intricately detailed piece that might not be completed?
I realised at this moment that I have hard drives full of unfinished work simply because I have deemed it ‘imperfect’. Yet I have very few finished pieces of work in comparison.
So, I set myself a challenge to start writing and FINISHING a song a week. The rules were it didn’t have to be perfect, I didn’t have to like it, it just had to be DONE.
A month later and many songs completed I realised that I was wrong.
Before I would spend days EQ’ing a kick drum and weeks getting the perfect balance of reverb only to be exhausted with the song months later.
Writing and finishing a song in a week has given me the boundaries I need to prioritise what needs done and limited the amount of time I work on everything. Resulting in the feeling of accomplishment having seen something through to the end.
I ultimately have started liking my one-week songs over the ones I spent four months writing the verses for!
So, if you’re like me and spending an unhealthy amount of time trying to make something ‘perfect’ may I suggest putting a time limit on it and remember – it doesn’t have to be polished, it just has to be done.
Jen Athan is a composer and producer based in Glasgow. Her work spans many different styles and genres and typically features her love of sampling and experimenting with new sounds. She has written music for theatre shows and short films and enjoys creating music to accompany a narrative.