I’ve been stuck on this same movement of this flute piece for a good while now, but I finally feel like I’ve made some headway. I was in the middle of writing the rough draft thinking, “I don’t know what else to write. What do I do?” I had my roadmap perfectly laid out in front of me but i still couldn’t find the actual notes to fit what I wanted. I took a break and came back to it after a few days of vacation, which was fantastic by the way, but time went on and I realized that it had been forever since I touched the piece. In a way, I was afraid that whatever was going to come out next wasn’t going to be good enough. More time passed and I realized I hadn’t touched the score in far too long. It doesn’t matter what I write as long as I write SOMETHING. Get to the double barline and finish this draft. Who cares if it sucks, I can fix it after I know what I want fixed. So I wrote. And then I wrote some more. And then I realized I hated what I wrote, so I fixed it. And then I wrote some more. And even though what I wrote didn’t seem like it was that great at first, it was still better than having it as empty space on the score waiting to be written. Even if I absolutely hated what I ended up writing, I figured, “Screw it. I can always go and change it when I know what actually goes there.”
I remember working on essays and learning about the writing process way back in grade school. Start with your prewrite phase, do you first draft, edit and revise, and set up the final draft. They probably told us all that the revision process is infinitely much more than the first draft, but when you’re in grade school, you just want to finish your homework so you can do more important things like hang out with your friends or play video games. As a result things like editing and revising go to the wayside and you end up with sentences with spleling errrrors and word order and sentence structure awkward because when you don’t really care, the first draft is the final draft. Now that I am working on something I actually want to refine, I’m realizing how important prewriting and revising is to the creative process. Now the first draft is like a pencil sketch. The next draft is adding in the hard defined lines, and the next one adds the color and shading, and the next one after is that is figuring out that one thing that is missing that you may or may not find. The final draft is as close to the Mona Lisa you can get.
What do you want to write? How do you want it written?
Write it. It WILL suck the first time.
Go back and see if it fits with what you wanted to write and how you wanted it written.
Fix it. Fix it again.
Get it printed and give it to someone to play.
The second movement (to be written, not necessarily the second movement of the work) is just about ready and I’ve been conceptualizing the next one for the past few days and things are looking good. And just in time seeing as how in about 6 hours I’ll be heading off to the airport for the Atlantic Music Festival, and I am incredibly excited. Hopefully I’ll keep up with this blog while I’m there.