I can give you summary of this post now: set realistic expectations … if you can. At least for me, that's the trick with doing anything with great intensity.
I'm writing this post in first-person. Even though the references here will be to “me” and “I”, you may find that you can relate with some of it. If you do, please let me know by leaving a comment (at the end of this post) or contacting me on Twitter.
The End of the 30-Day Challenge
When the 30-day challenge ended last Saturday, I felt relief. Not only had I completed the thirty piano improvisations inspired by prompts from InterPlay millennials, but it was time for the organization to celebrate it's International Day of Interplay.
It had been by far the most intense creative experience I can remember. And nearly all of the intensity was from the inside: finding time in my schedule to do the creating each day, shaping my approach over time to make it all work for me, and lining up my resources so that I could finish as efficiently as possible.
I like things to be very orderly. Life isn't always like that, of course. The millennials set up the prompts and sent them at somewhat random times each day. Usually, I had the prompt by early morning, but on the days they didn't arrive until later, I had to adapt my timeline. In other words, I had to shift my expectations. I also had a few days where my motivation lagged a bit. Of course, I completed each improvisation anyway.
My eventual routine was:
- Ponder the prompt and perform the InterPlay form (you can see the prompt by clicking through to the individual piano improvisations);
- Select a photo image to go along with the prompt and overlay it with the title, etc.;
- Spontaneously compose the piano piece;
- Do all the magic involved in preparing the recording to share it; and
- Share it with VIPs, fans, friends, and social networks.
In the Back of My Mind
The whole time, one of my expectations was that a few (8-12) of the improvisations would be worthy of turning into an album. This began to take shape when the thirty days was nearly over. I decided that I'd base the album track selection on the number of times people like you pressed play on the pieces.
Now, I understand that piano improvisations — especially raw, unedited ones — are not for everyone. Thankfully, I have many friends and fans who appreciate them. Overall, the response to these tracks has been amazing: I've received many very specific bits of feedback on some of them and the play count is already beyond my expectations.
I had never participated in a 30-day challenge like this one. If I do it again, my intention will be to remain adaptable. Previous creativity challenges I had joined were on a weekly or monthly basis. Completing a creative process every day can be very intense for someone like me.
At the same time, I never could have anticipated the rewards of this process either. Because the inspiration came in the form of prompts from millennials, the starting points were very different from my usual. I also have my story of a month in my life “recorded”. I can pause any time in the future and have a way of hearing what was up for me. And that seems pretty cool.