Embracing the boring

Do you work waiting for the next exciting thing to happen? Looking forward to the next surprising development or return that may well produce the big hit, sensation or reward for all your latest endeavours?

The Internet is littered with the quick fix investment; How to make millions with the latest financial app, lottery combination or guaranteed formula for that illusive perpetual fortune.

Nowhere does it deal with the idea of lack lustre investments; working with steady and modest returns over years rather than days.

The parallels with the creative process are easy to see.

There have been times when the pursuit of that big song, those millions of sales and instant success are all too tempting; Working towards a formula that guaranteed fame and fortune overnight and the icing on the cake of adulation and instant fandom.

In the heydays of almost too much commissioned work, I remember being in the studio and not really engaging too much of the creative juices, falling back on routines and rather boring endeavours. I knew what was needed and it was relatively easy to set the manual programming to a minimum.

But surprisingly the end product almost seemed to be the same as when much thought and soul searching were employed. Familiarity and understanding a brief were first and foremost. But it wasn’t always the case of waiting for the muse or a great beam of heavenly light to descend. Embracing the boring was as much a part of completing a work as were the brief flashes of divine, or otherwise, inspirational moments.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not belittling the process or taking for granted that I was among the privileged in being asked to write music for a living. But genuine inspiration doesn’t appear all the time. I firmly believe in working through the routines, having time to exercise some mindless noodling, playing around until something strikes you as worth working on.

Years back as an impoverished guitarist, I would practice for hours every day. First the scales and the arpeggios, transferring piano exercises onto guitar and attempting every key before finding any bit of random music to improve the sight reading. It was tedious and, for anyone listening, mind numbingly boring. But an essential part of getting to that place where new stuff grew and flourished.

Sometimes now, when you end up having to tune up someone’s vocal tracks or drag a nicely out of time guitar back to the land of the living, you find yourself in a strange limbo where the routine, twiddling and fiddling lead you on to a different and often better place. But all originating from the dull, seemingly uninspiring and boring.

Embrace the boring. Find the path through. Stop being bored by the boring and the next most exciting thing. It all becomes boring in the end. Be excited by things that have a longer shelf life.

Enjoy the process no matter how dull it may appear to be.