A brave and inspired idea from Another Day On Earth – aka Brooklyn songwriter Lawrence Bonk:
i am committed to writing, recording and posting a song on my blog every single day for an entire year. you may ask, “why would one do such a thing? are you diseased? are you pulling some kind of great gatsby-ish stunt in order to woo a girl? are you just obsessive compulsive?” the answer is, truthfully, i don’t know. i got the idea in my head one day and i’m stubborn. i think the songs are pretty good. go to the website to check them out and email me at email@example.com
To come right out and say you’re going to write, record and post online 365 songs in a year is both courageous and fantastically ambitious, as anybody who’s ever tried to write even one song will know. Anybody who hasn’t ever tried to write even one song may wonder if any of this material can possibly be any good. Surely this kind of pressure must kill creativity?
Actually it doesn’t really matter. Writing deathless pop epics isn’t the point of the exercise; the writing is an end in itself. Every writer knows how perfectionism can be the enemy of achievement. Being too precious about the creative process all too often leads to creating nothing at all. Hence, Lawrence’s answer:
Some may be good. Some may be bad. Whatever. I guess I’m trying to teach myself to let go and be happy with things as they are. Here are the rules I have come up with: (1) They have to be written and recorded that day. (2) Once a week I am allowed to post something I had laying around to give myself a break. That’s it pretty much. There are no rules regarding length or epic-ness of content. We’ll see how I’m feeling that day. All songs are recorded straight into my laptop using free recording software and a microphone meant for karaoke.
By setting aside quality in favour of quantity – in both writing and recording – the artistic imagination is set free to run riot. My guess is that by giving himself permission to write rubbish songs, in the course of 12 months Another Day On Earth is going to come up with some very good ones indeed.
The trouble for the rest of us is that recording a song a day from scratch could easily become a fulltime occupation: most songwriters are unable to give music anything like this level of commitment in their lives. But writing ridiculous numbers of songs within a ridiculously short space of time is still perfectly possible for all of us, using the methods described in The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook
The book was written by two founder members of the Immersion Composition Society who “noticed we were spending more time waiting for inspiration, than actually writing music.” So they invented the 20 Song Game where a group of people force themselves to write, whether they feel like it or not.
On a chosen day every member does their best to write 20 new songs in that 24 hour period. In practice; absolute chaos ensues. The point isn’t to actually manage 20 but to break free of inhibitions and enter a state of creative frenzy.
They then meet up next day in party mood and play their efforts back to each other. Whether or not you feel like trying the 20 Song Game yourself, if you find your writing has dried up or is stuck in a rut, The Frustrated Songwriter’s Handbook may well help get your flow going once again.
Meanwhile back in Brooklyn, Another Day On Earth doesn’t have a private income, corporate sponsor or big fat publishing deal to underwrite his daily songwriting habit. Somehow he has to earn enough to keep body, soul and hard drive together as he climbs his self-created Everest this year.
Maybe those of us who’d like to see him succeed should send a few bucks from time to time to help him keep the songs flowing. Even a token amount will be appreciated because what really counts – much more than the cash – is the encouragement.