Ditching Social Media, Anxiety, Mental Health Apps and The Inner Critic

After removing social media from my life during the last two years, I’m slowly but surely reducing anxiety and my distractability. It used to be that I would read a paragraph or two in a book… my mind would wander and I’d realise I’d read several more paragraphs without a clue what it said. That doesn’t happen all that much any more. Result.

Looking for alternative dopamine hits

I still get bored and want to get rid of that boredom, and I’ve found myself recently clicking through YouTube and some other forum sites. I get a little hit of dopamine and a false sense of community and connection (I’m still a lurker – I don’t really engage in commenting as my inner critic will happily continue to assert that what I have to say is neither useful, witty nor pithy – what a bitch!); I can feel that old, familiar, background lure that I used to get with the big three (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) so I’m not out of the woods yet. read more

Don’t wait for Creative Inspiration to Get Work Done

Glowing brain

Inspiration – it’s a fickle beast. We all know that. Sometimes I’m inspired, sometimes I’m not. Still have a deadline though, still need to get paid. One of my big priorities and motivators though is also to enjoy the experience as much as clients will (hopefully) enjoy the music I’ll compose for their film or play. Though it’s quite a nice bonus, that feeling of creative inspiration, of having ideas spring into mind as if from outside of us, isn’t really a prerequisite to said enjoyment. read more

Why I Quit Twitter (and you might want to, too)

Blue + Bird by John Verive

I’M A QUITTER. A serial quitter. I like quitting things. Things I’ve quit: coffee, owning a car, dyeing my hair, wearing high heels, most recently some social media including twitter… I quit because I get a kick out of it – a sense of clarity and relief. Maybe it’s my catholic upbringing (you know, all about the suffering and sacrifice, that religion). It’s tired cliche, but it’s a cliche because of its universal truthiness. It’s as if an enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and that, finally, now I have time to concentrate on the more important things in life. read more

2017 – The Year of Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone

Golf Course In The Fog Simon Harrod Flickr

I think my theme for 2017 might have been 'getting out of my comfort zone'. I said YES to bunch of opportunities I perhaps wouldn't normally have gone for. Sometimes it worked really well for me, sometimes it... didn't quite turn out as I'd hoped. I learned a LOT about how, why and when to 'get out' of said 'comfort zone' for maximum value...

Social Media is screwing with my ability to focus so I’m probably going to quit it. Maybe. At some point.

A woman holds a note that says 'focus'

Focus is sometimes… challenging, isn’t it? I sometimes think I used to be better at it. Then I read an article that said I’m probably right:

“In fact, paying attention involves two separate functions: ‘enhancement’ (our ability to focus on things that matter) and ‘suppression’ (our ability to ignore the things that don’t). Interestingly, enhancement and suppression are not opposites, they are distinct processes in the brain. The latter becomes less reliable as you get older.” [my emphasis] read more

A Recipe For Undeniable Creative Success

A wooden sign in a green field points to 'creativity'

Time is short and I’ve still got work to do. Rather than curl up in denial under the duvet with Netflix and a bottle of Belvedere, this is how I try to approach a challenging amount of creative work, such as the epic beast that is Flood.

Accept it. Don’t fight it. It’s going to get done. Have faith in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Prioritise. Cut out all the chaff. Remove extraneous work and social obligations – anything that can be postponed, do it. What’s the most urgent music to be written? On this project, I had several songs to write for choir, so these were written first so that the performers could get to learning them as quickly as possible. read more

It Happened Here and Writing for the Sake Of It

A Map of Holbeck, a Pen and an MP3 Player with Headphones on a Bench
It Happened Here is a Slung Low audio/installation adventure set in Holbeck, Leeds, which opened in August 2016. 

It Happened Here was a surprisingly freeing project to work on; usually my work is underscoring dialogue or action, either as live theatre or onscreen, and synchronisation with these events is a high priority – synchronisation of tone, emotion, pace, volume and complexity. This synchronisation can be quite strict, as in the case of much of my animation work, or fairly fluid in the case of promenade theatre. Nonetheless, there are always ‘sync-points’ to hit. read more

Rest, Reset, Regroup, Recharge

National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme

The evening concert for the National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1st of July went to plan and was well-received. Phew!

So right now, for me, is all about taking the time to rest and recharge the batteries. To be honest, I took a couple of days off directly after the show finished before going back to work. I thought that would do the trick. Boy was I wrong! Though I did get through some work – a pitch for a cartoon miniseries and a budget for another little thing, it was more of a slog than it should have been. I’ve bitten the bullet and given myself this week off to see if that helps. read more

Meandering Thoughts on the Ego

CoffeeTime is flying by, and we’re already nearing March of a year that feels like it only began a week ago. I’ve been working on Red Star’s latest animation this month, in a very different music style to my normal orchestral/sound-designy schtick! ‘Tis alway nice to have a challenge.

Next month brings with it more new and lovely challenges: preparatory work with Slung Low for the music of The White Whale and the V&A’s Venetian Masquerade exhibition starts in earnest. I’m also putting together a pitch for a film (keep your fingers crossed for me!) and I’m talking at the next Hack Circus, themed ‘This is Reality’. I’m not entirely sure what my take on it is, but ideas of controlling perceptions of reality through music and sound feels like a decent starting point. But, who knows, when I finally get a mo to really sit with the topic it could go off in another direction entirely… read more

Blind Faith vs Evidence-Based Expectations

I wrote a post a while back about being ok with not knowing. Sometimes you don’t know what your next move is, how you’ll get from the start to the finish line. The gist of the post is that this usually feels uncomfortable but it’s ok to feel that way. There’s no need to shy away from it – it’s a normal part of a process that requires you take a different path each time it’s undertaken.

This can be applied to music composition and any other creative endeavour. The point is that something new will be the end product; you can’t get there without the process, or some part of it, also being new. read more