March 17, 2017
by Kim Jennings
Yikes, that headline though.
I can honestly say that the *only* resolution I’ve ever come close to really keeping is my 12-week songwriting challenge: write a new song a week for 12 weeks, starting in the first week of January.
This is my third year doing it. I think I will make it this time.
For Year 1 – Before I started, I remember being SO stuck. So lost. Just wandering around in my musical mind, trying to remember – why am I doing this anymore? Setting a resolution wasn’t so much about “you’d better” or “you should” or any of those pressure-induced trappings of what most resolutions are about. It was my kick in the pants to set a goal, and remember what it’s like to have a creative process again. I wrote 9 songs. I was pretty pleased. Some of them I kept.
For Year 2 – last year. It was harder, even though now I felt like it was more important to do it again. I had just left my day job and started my own consulting business (another day job, but I use my girl geek superpower – and I do really love it!). Now I had to prove that I was still committed to this part of myself. I knew last year that I’d have to pull back in terms of how many solo performances I could pull off – but no matter how busy I get, I can still make time to write, because I want to. I wrote 10 songs. I love some of them. Others – meh. It’s cool.
For Year 3 – this year. Right now. In the middle of it. I just wrote song 10 this week, on my birthday. I play each of these songs at the Amazing Things open mike (my songwriting home), at least once for each song – it’s part of the resolution, and an important one. It’s what keeps me accountable. I’ve been going to open mike every week talking about this challenge, and man oh man I don’t want to show up and feel like I’ve quit. But I realized something: week 10 is always around my birthday, and that’s likely why I’ve petered out at 9 or 10 over the past couple of years. I don’t know what it is – probably something about the retrospecting that happens around birthdays, where I just can’t dig into anything, it’s too personal, it’s too blatantly cliche, and on and on.
Whatever it was, whatever it is, it’s just my inner critic telling me I should shut up. So last year, and the year before, the critic won, I got tired, and I stopped.
No one was looking down on me because I stopped. Except for me, of course. Or – rather, my inner critic looked down on me. As much as it was hounding me to stop because the songs would suck, it then turned on a dime and criticized me for not following through. WHAT IS THAT?!?
I’m at the point, right now, where inner critic will try to take hold. “You can’t finish,” it will say. “You never finish anything,” it will say. Why? I finished 10 songs already, for crying out loud. I can finish something. And I will.
2 weeks to go.
And then what? I don’t know. A stranger who heard my song last night asked me if I’m making an album. I don’t have a specific recording goal in mind, though I do make crappy phone demos of each song so that I don’t forget any of them! Who knows. All I know is that I’ll have at least 12 new songs by the end of the year, even if I don’t write anymore all year long…which won’t happen. A song a month is a pretty good average too.
As I think about this compulsion I have for producing things, for setting and meeting goals, for “DONE” and whatever that entails…what I’ve enjoyed most this year is that I’m getting more into the process. I’m asking more about “what am I going to write now?” instead of internally screaming “OH MY GOD NOW I HAVE TO WRITE SOMETHING.”
No pressure, of course. That feels pretty good.
Thanks for listening, cause I know I’m rambling…
P.S. I’m playing my first solo set in 6 months at Somerville Songwriter Sessions, on Saturday, April 1 with Beth DeSombre and Dan Cloutier. We’ll do solo sets and play in the round. One of the rounds will be Antarctica-themed songs. Come out and hear some of my new stuff!