Tag Archives: Atomic Habits

Are you jealous of what someone else has accomplished?

As I’m writing my book today, I confess that there have been a few times when I felt jealous of other composers having their original operas performed. But when it comes to Mozart or Puccini I just feel kind of intimidated by the sheer volume of their output.

I’m still reading James Clear’s Atomic habits, and the quote I stick with today is this: “What’s the difference between the best athletes and everyone else? What do the really successful people do that most don’t?” Mr Clear is interviewing an elite coach, who mentions factors you might expect: genetics, luck, talent. “But then he said something I wasn’t expecting: ‘At some point it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.'” (p. 233)

Expect it to get boring sometimes, and plan for it to be ok anyway. Just keep going.

I again failed to bring my notebook to the gym where I’m working today, so I decide to just start a new score for a string quartet that doesn’t require my notes from the other day. I’ll think more about what I want to do with the piece, but I’ve written in an opening phrase for the two violins, and I have some ideas of rhythms, melodies, harmonies expressed in just those few measures. As I talked about the other day, really successful music pretty much always features lots of repetition, lots of themes with variations, and some development of ideas. Creating an idea isn’t that hard, it’s the rest that is the craft.

Hoping next week I’ll be able to get some more time into the two pieces I now have open for editing, but at least I plan on showing up, even if it’s just for a little bit. If I can find the time and energy, I’d like to write some more poetry to feed my music.

A bad day is better than no day

I’m reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits. He talks about the importance of showing up, even when you don’t feel like it. You do it because it is a part of your identity, that you are a person that doesn’t miss (his example is workouts, but I’m applying it to writing music).

It’s been a day full of working on house chores, and I am looking at my list of things to do. I have a task called “Write music.” It does not quantify how much, because I know that these days come sometimes, when I feel like I don’t have much time, and maybe not a ton of ideas to write in the amount of time I can scrounge up anyway.

But I write in three phrases, and I consider it a non-zero day, a day which despite not yielding lots of new notes, has still been a day when I showed up to my computer. I opened my software notation program, and I wrote in some new notes. I put in a key change.

Next time I know I’ll need to add in more variations on the theme. It should be fun. But as I explained a few days ago, the piece came with a huge wave of grief attached to it, and it is kind of heavy working on it. I’ll go play some Bruch or Telemann or Hummel or maybe just Christmas tunes to brighten my spirit.