This Friday, I did something I’ve never done before! I already had too many work hours banked for this month so I didn’t have to go into work so early (we have one of the most flexible flexi-time systems at our office and very little in the way of peer-pressure so I only had to work 9.30-4.30 with an hour for lunch). I had extra time to write at home in the morning, a bit of extra time to potter around at home and tidy up. I caught the later train (which felt weird, I think I prefer being up ahead of the crowds when I’m off to swimming, I just felt a bit behind!) and swam with a later crowd and made my way to work in a leisurely fashion. By the time I’d got in, settled down and had my snack, it was only a couple of hours until lunchtime! And that made the whole day feel more relaxing! It was interesting how a little variation in the routine had such an impact on my mood and imagination. I think if I was doing it again, I’d maybe go and swim at the normal time but stop on the way to work for a coffee and breakfast somewhere nice, do some extended writing – then I’d be able to do music at home before leaving instead.
As soon as work finishes on a Friday, I have to work to switch my mindset from a work-focused one to a music-focused one, as quickly as possible. I’m experimenting at the moment with the idea that doing something social on a Friday night, as a buffer between the two, will help me make that transition. In the same way that I get apprehensive nervous sleep on Monday nights when I’m about to go back into work mode (and doubting whether I can cope even though that’s really not necessary, I always cope just fine!) I must be making that transition in reverse at some point during Friday night.
The weekends are much more straightforward and the list of things that need doing is nothing like as complicated as the work-day routine. It’s basically rest, music, cleaning and exercise – those are the priorities, along with various must-be-done things like our meals (we have fallen into a bit of a routine here too) and calling parents and fitting in letters and creative things; they’re more optional but I don’t often miss them.
I’m trying to get myself more into professional musician mode and make music the centrepiece/main effort of at least two of the three days. I’m trying to take a more project-based approach, identifying the things I want to learn and try and deliberately working on the things I suck at the most! I think this is the way to find your bliss: actually learn the things you want to be able to do, put in the hard graft, stop it being just a dream and actually make something happen. It’s a long process but I see improvements week to week and that keeps me motivated. I’m trying to record more things and edit them to upload to the website so people can listen if they want to – these are not the final recordings but hopefully they keep people interested and it’s a good signal for myself that I have “conquered” a song if I can put out a decent recording of it. The songs I’ve been doing recently I’m actually quite proud of, the quality is improving all the time and I feel like they have more authenticity, because I’ve actually spent time with them getting them how I want, not rushing but working until I had something I was happy with. I have had a few bits of positive feedback and I guess it helps that at the moment, I’m not trying to get anywhere, sell anything, or win a recording contract – I’m free to just do what I love and do what I can do to the best of my ability.
I have so much work to do though! So much to learn, so many things I want to be able to do. Sometimes I wish I had more time, that I could just do music every day, but know I’m also still at the stage of having to discipline and motivate myself to make it to the mic, I still shy away from it (especially when I’m in “work mode”) although more and more I do manage to get lost in it at the weekend, moving between songs and skills and finding a continuous flow of things to work on. The biggest part of the switch-up is the mental switch between the feeling that I’ll never be more than a lowly accounts bum to being absolutely convinced that I am a talented and engaging musician who people will love to listen to and come out to see!
I guess one of the changes I’d like to make this year is to have “work mode” and “music mode” be compatible with each other. I sometimes feel I have to make SO MANY personality, mood and lifestyle (daily routine) adjustments to go from one to the other, that it’s like living two different lives. I want to be more open talking about my music with people I work with. I want to be able to hold my music ambitions in my head at all times, and have those dreams be stronger to me than my work reality. I want to be a musician first. I want both sections of my life to intersect and mesh into one – so that I can pursue both ambitions simultaneously if that’s what I choose, but even more importantly so that my musical life eventually has the chance to eat up my office life (and eliminate it for good!) – if I keep the two separate then they will always coexist and conflict but one will never win out.