Ages ago in the history of the internet, I heard of a wonderful community effort that started in 2004, a challenge to write 14 original songs during the month of February. Everyone who passes that milestone is a winner, and everyone who takes part finds a supportive community of amazing, talented, dedicated and wonderful songwriters. So I took part, and I won. And the next year I took part and I won. Some years since then I haven’t had time, and when I was very sick from an infection I didn’t have the internet so it was even more difficult.
FAWM (February Album Writing Month) is an incredible phenomenon that really teaches you not only about songwriting, but about your particular process, and how easily you get in your own way. For a few years I wasn’t able to record my songs as I did them, and I used that as an excuse to stop. I was so disappointed in the recording quality that my studio was capable of that I literally stopped writing songs. It was simply too painful to write and write and know they were never going to be made. Eventually I started writing lyrics again. It felt too easy to just write lyrics without writing music so I set a challenge for myself inside of FAWM: to write 28 lyrics in the month of February in order to feel like it was really a big deal. I hoped to write the music for them over the year after FAWM, but that didn’t happen.
Well, I’ve been living in the same place for over 6 years now and have internet back up. My studio computer suffered from a dead HDD. I had to rebuild my entire software side of production from free software because I lost access to everything. With the refurbished iPad and a few bits of software collected on sale I have more than enough to keep me busy. And FAWM is coming up again…
This year is the first year I’ll be concentrating on music NOT lyrics. I may fail FAWM for the first time. But I’m both terrified and incredibly excited.
Normal people have to deal with things like jobs and family getting in the way of their creative time. I have to deal with a health condition that makes it difficult to take care of myself properly on a regular basis, depending on my neighbours. If they smoke, or if they do laundry when the wind is in the wrong direction, I can get incredibly tired and even ill. For days or even weeks.
There’s a few things I do to concentrate on getting through the month while dedicating to creativity:
- Food Support
In the next couple of weeks I’ll be making big batches of soup in the slow cooker and freezing them, as well as getting some premade burgers that just need to be cooked. Hopefully eating during FAWM will consist of simply heating something up and continuing to work on music.
- Cleaning Support
For FAWM I implement a NO DISHES rule, same as when I’m very sick. It’s going to take all my remaining energy to clean the pots and pans every day as I reheat stuff. So as a bachelorette, I’ll be eating straight out of the pot, and drinking straight from the container. (Thankfully I’m single, hahaha.) I’ll be using plastic cups and cutlery. Sorry, environment. If I had a dishwasher this rule would totally change!
- Mental Preparation
Normally I don’t go into FAWM this prepared and I just write whatever. However this year it’s important to me to write music for my huge back catalog of lyrics-without-music. So I’ve selected specific ones to work on. We’ll see if I stick to the plan once FAWM starts and the crucios start to fly!
- Studio Setup
Get the VSTs I want to use and experiment with set up beforehand, make a few templates to load up and just start a song without fussing over the software end of things. Because I’ll be writing music for lyrics that are already written, I do have an idea of the tempo and instrumentation I want to use in general.
I’d love to get my “blanket fort studio” to a point where I can confidently record vocals, however my apartment is so toxic that I have to have a noisy air filter running 24/7. That’s bad for recording live instruments. At this point I have the equipment (for the most part, anyway,) but not the space. So it might just be backing tracks for February and then vocals later this year.
Are you taking part in FAWM? If so, stop by and say hi!