While listening to one of my favorite podcasts—Jim Dalrymple’s The Dalrymple Report—I overheard a conversation between the Apple blogosphere’s most musical member and Jonathan Mann, whose Song-A-Day project caught the ears of such notables as Anderson Cooper and the late Steve Jobs. (Jobs famously used Mann’s “The iPhone Antenna Song” during the press conference Apple held to address “Antennagate” in 2010.) Basically, what Mann does is write, record, and post one song every day. It sounded like such an interesting concept, and such a massive undertaking. One that would require more creativity than I could ever muster.
But then Dalrymple and Mann continued talking—talking about a man whose take on the Song-A-Day challenge was an excuse-a-day for why he didn’t start yet, talking about how little time Mann now has to put into his songs and how streamlined his process is, and so on. And it made me realize: it’s more important to do something, do anything, and not let whether it’s high quality or particularly creative get in the way of the act itself.
Because let’s face it: some days, you are not going to produce great work. Some days you’re going to just not going to be into it, not going to feel that spark. And those are the days where it is most important to produce something. Those are the days where you feel bogged down, defeated, and want to just “skip it” and wait for your muse to visit again.
And one day becomes two, two becomes a week, and weeks quickly turn into months without anything to show for it.
So I have come up with my own take of the song-a-day challenge. I am challenging myself, now, today, to produce 200 written words a day in the form of a story, or a poem, or a blog, or just something. It doesn’t really matter what, at the end of the day, as long as I’m putting myself through those motions. It reminds me a lot of the mentality behind the writing exercises from my favorite class in my graduate program: every week, we had writing assignments, but were to spend no more than 30 minutes on each of them during the week. The purpose was to let the ideas flow, rather than focus on the quality of the end product. That is a mentality I need to get myself to accept once again.
And some days, I’ll actually produce something worthwhile. Or at least something passable. It won’t be every day, obviously. Not even most days. But that’s not the point.
Here is my first effort:
The little creature with bulging black eyes regarded me quizzically, cocking its head slowly to one side, then to the other. It was cute, I had to admit: it’s yellow lips came to a point in front of its face, and the gray tuft of hair on its head gave it the appearance of being wizened in contradiction to the rest of its demeanor. What could it possibly be thinking, as it stares at me? It didn’t seem concerned.
My lips uttered a noise of greeting through my needle-sharp teeth. The curious creature scooted back on its awkward twig legs, tucking in its head and pulling in its little pin feathers as if they could possibly shield it from harm. It peeped a word of warning, although it sounded more like a futile plea. I could almost make out my reflection in the bulging black eyes as they wavered.
Now this was more appropriate: not the cool regard from when we first crossed paths, but fear. Yes, this was the kind of mortal dread upon which I wished to feed. Well, mortal dread and …
My tongue played off of my teeth as I opened my mouth and stepped forward.