Octobverse

I decided to join my artist friends who take part in the yearly tradition of Inktober. They complete a drawing using ink once per day throughout the month of October.

I have very limited skills as a visual artist, so I decided to take part using my hobby as a songwriter, writing a song (in ink) each day, recording it and sharing to Instagram. I wrote 31 songs in the month of October. It was challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

I usually only finish a couple of songs per year. My songbook contains plenty of half-finished sketches and abandoned ideas. When I complete a song I usually do nothing with it. I honestly didn’t think I had enough material or motivation in me to complete this project and that it would end in failure. I was wrong.

Format

I was posting my songs on to Instagram where there is a 1 minute maximum length for video. This gave a brilliant restriction as it removed the pressure to always have a classic song structure and gave me an achievable target that I can fit in around my day job. I admire Stephen Merritt’s short ukulele songs and think that this instrument and a short songwriting style work well together.

Lessons

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find enough writing topics. Inktober provides a prompts list that would help me out occasionally, but I often struggle when writing to an abstract metaphor. I prefer songs that get straight to the point. Messiahsez says “the blues is about your life”, and for the month of October, this became my biggest source of inspiration. I wrote a song about social change that came from ordering a burrito, a few songs about going to gigs, a couple of songs about how I didn’t have time to write a song. When I sit down and apply myself – I actually have a lot of things to say.

I also learned that a small daily task is an excellent driver for productivity. <1 minute of music is really achievable and whilst there were a few days when I felt forced into doing it, I still did it every day. I do have the time in the evenings to make art, and realizing this is really important as I drift further from my Digital Minimalism commitments and back into old habits.

I find prototyping videogames to be a great creative exercise but get drained very quickly when trying to ‘build’ them. The same is true of songs. I was able to play with ideas without the requirement for them to be well built, and that was invigorating. I am now keeping a hold on the creative side of writing as I continue to write beyond this project.

What’s next?

November was a relatively light month for my creative projects. This was partly because of increasing pressure at work and partly because October’s project was pretty intense and I needed a little break. I am writing up a few songs into a longer format and will be posting them on a new Soundcloud page. The objective is to make demo recordings, but as always I am feeling too attached to quality to share. Finding that room for creativity and play in this task will be essential. I would like to find a new regular challenge to help motive me to complete this, and ideas are welcomed.

Until I move them to a more sensible place, the curious can find my songs on my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mikey_pb/

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