Rolling Music Writers' Thread

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Hello again, this thread.

I'm in a bit of a rut at the moment. My much of my spare time in 2011 was spent honing my writing skills, but even then I was conscious that I was only able to put out a piece maybe once every 6 weeks due to other commitments. Despite wishing to break out and maybe pitch a few more publications (with a mind to hopefully doing a bit of paid work), 2012's going really slowly - 1 review (published), an interview (submitted, awaiting feedback) and an opinion piece (in desperate need of a redraft) so far and it's already April. I have a house move soon, I'm still putting on live shows which takes up a bit of time too, and of course my day-to-day bits like doing the washing-up and stuff. Work is breathing down my neck, so I've had to cut down on surfing at work (so now I feel very out of the loop compared to last year).

I guess my question is to those who write part-time: Do you have any tips on making the most of your time when it comes to writing? How do you balance your writing life with your day job? I hope I'm not the only one who struggles with this, particularly when my daytime is spent slaving over a hot computer monitor as it is, let alone having to spend the nights doing it.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Monday, 16 April 2012 12:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's not exactly stunning advice but i find it useful to get up early at the weekend, cut myself off from distractions and just write. Even if you don't think you're getting anything usable out of it, there may be the germ of a good idea you can go back to later. It's really easy to think 'i'll write when i feel inspired' but that makes it easy to just put off. A certain amount of scheduled graft is necessary sometimes.

Une semaine de Bunty (ShariVari), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:22 (2 years ago) Permalink

I feel inspired by deadlines, mostly.

When the deadlines fall during the week I find waking up early before work more effective than trying to write at night, when mostly I just want to drink myself into a stupor.

I think another thing is to recognise that you can "feel inspired" all the time. Basically all of my music listening involves a stream of thought bubbles, ways of framing the music's charms or shortfalls and making connections with other things - if you can train yourself to record those as they arrive then by the time you sit down to "write the article" the work's half done.

Tim F, Monday, 16 April 2012 13:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

I feel inspired by deadlines, mostly.

hahaha yes totally. ditto on recording stray thoughts too.

iirc when i worked full-time i did most of my writing at the weekend (which i...still do, actually). i occasionally do editing shifts and maybe i've just got too used to the freelance life but in those office-based weeks i'm astounded that anyone can cope with a proper job at all - i worked for four days last week and felt like i had ME by the end of it, just utter exhaustion.

but the thing is if you have to do it then you just do it and it's remarkable what you actually can do. after much wrangling re: date, my big cher lloyd interview last year happened to land during a week i was working in kensington. i had to do the interview in my lunch break, then go back to work and finish editing a section, then file by the following morning. i stayed in the office til 8.30pm transcribing, home by 9.30pm, stayed up til 5am writing, filed, back in the office by 10am and i didn't die or fuck up in any way. anything is possible!

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

has anyone else felt that after a certain point they have no more words left to say about instrumental dance music? these days i genuinely find it easier to write 8000 words about nicki minaj than to somehow extract 50 words of interest from some cosmic disco album.

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

xpost what surprises me most is the fact that I don't think the writing quality really suffers as a result of that kind of "forcing", at least not if you've allowed enough time for the ideas to germinate and/or know the topic.

Tim F, Monday, 16 April 2012 13:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha nicki might be an unfair example!

Tim F, Monday, 16 April 2012 13:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

I guess my question is to those who write part-time: Do you have any tips on making the most of your time when it comes to writing? How do you balance your writing life with your day job? I hope I'm not the only one who struggles with this, particularly when my daytime is spent slaving over a hot computer monitor as it is, let alone having to spend the nights doing it.

I'll work on bits at my job if I have enough time. Deadlines work by giving me more time: if I have a review due, say, on a Friday, I'll start the first draft by Monday or Tuesday so that I can have something to revise early Thursday night.

But that's just the way I do things. I've never stayed up all night writing anything.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

actually, I'd be curious to know how many of you besides lex write until dawn or whatever

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've never stayed up all night writing anything.

^^^^

In any context. I think the latest would be 2.30am or so and that was law exam study, or (very occasionally) for work.

Tim F, Monday, 16 April 2012 13:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't think the writing quality really suffers as a result of that kind of "forcing"

haha i was going over which pieces from last year i was most proud of and was looking at them in facebook for some reason and had to go o_0 as i realised the situations i'd written them in (sitting in a hospital waiting room with a fucked-up ankle, unable to walk and waiting to be treated; coming down with a huge fever; aforementioned abandonment of the concept of sleep for cher lloyd)

haha nicki might be an unfair example!

ha yeah but still. i was trying to write about a new cosmic disco release recently and just ended up thinking, i have literally nothing to say about this apart from "i like it, it works"

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

until fairly recently literally EVERYTHING i'd ever written - university essays, published journalism - was done between 4-6am, the morning of the deadline. i really try to avoid that nowadays b/c lack of sleep fucks me up worse than any amount of anything else but time management has never been a forte :(

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't think I've ever cared about anything enough to live like that! It'd kill me.

Tim F, Monday, 16 April 2012 13:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Exactly. Plus, denying myself sleep would affect the writing.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

it's not so much caring about it as panicking about the deadline that's RIGHT THERE

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

i can honestly say there is no qualitative difference between the writing i file after staying up all night vs the writing i do at sensible daytime hours - in fact the former might be a bit better, and if my body clock wasn't so goddamn inflexible these days i'd still happily work like that

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Monday, 16 April 2012 13:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

When I used to do concert reviews for the local daily paper and had to review weekday shows and get the reviews in by the next morning, I was up late writing, would try to get 4 hours or more of sleep, then I would review my own writing and edit it and then head to my dayjob and drink a lot of coffee. With a dayjob, parenting and writing it's hard for me to get some pieces written no matter how organized one is (and I'm not the most organized).

curmudgeon, Monday, 16 April 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

actually, I'd be curious to know how many of you besides lex write until dawn or whatever

I used to, until i moved in with my gf... certain sections of my last couple of books were done in overnight shifts, but it happens rarely now, and I think my writing's better for it.

I accidentally sonned your dome (stevie), Monday, 16 April 2012 14:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

This subject came up recently at home! Namely, my sweetie was forthright about saying how working later -- not till dawn or anything, more midnight -- was really not helpful. That might not seem like much except I get up for work each morning at 5:30, so. With that in mind I'm aiming to work no later than ten if I must.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 16 April 2012 14:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

This year I've had 5:30 wakeup calls every morning so I sympathize.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 April 2012 14:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

dayjob, downtime, exercise, dinner, boring cleaning up stuff, and writing, getting up early, reading ilx...Where does all the time go?

curmudgeon, Monday, 16 April 2012 14:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp Instrumental dance music is the hardest. So few people (thought Tim F is among them) can do it well. That's why when someone like Burial comes along with an instant word cloud of associations critics end up writing very similar things.

And I have been called "The Appetite" (DL), Monday, 16 April 2012 14:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've never tried writing in the morning. Who knows, maybe I'd be secretly good at it. Mind you, I have to get up and get ready for work about 7.30am and there's no way I'm getting up earlier than that. I get home about 6:30pm and then I have to have an hour at the very least where I do very little other than chill/eat/chat with my gf. Even 8pm feels like I'm getting back on the computer-horse a bit quickly. Maybe I need to get a job that doesn't involve chaining myself to a computer all day.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Monday, 16 April 2012 14:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

I never thought I could write in the early morning. Then my paper scrapped its 6am deadline for gig reviews from the night before. So I gave it a go. Well, what a revelation! It's now my second best time of the day for writing. (Best time of all: 5pm to 7pm.)

mike t-diva, Monday, 16 April 2012 16:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

until fairly recently literally EVERYTHING i'd ever written - university essays, published journalism - was done between 4-6am, the morning of the deadline.

still the way i operate unfortunately, but most of the work i've been doing lately is concert reviews which encourage that behavior

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Monday, 16 April 2012 16:46 (2 years ago) Permalink

when i wrote my EMP paper on house music in march i closed my store for a day and basically didn't leave the store for two days. slept on the couch. ate candy bars. smoked a lot of cigarettes in the basement. read it to a crowd at NYU two days later. it was fun! i don't write a lot. made me wish i had more excuses to do something like that.

scott seward, Monday, 16 April 2012 16:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

I've done my share of late-night/last-minute writing. Worst was for a book of film writing I did. It was just too big a project for me to try to handle in my customary wait-to-get-motivated way. Especially since I was working 8 hours a day 5-6 days a week and taking care of my then 3-year-old son about 3-4 hours every morning. That left late nights as the only available writing time. Last few weeks of it were brutal. I literally fell asleep in the middle of sentences. And of course the quality of the writing suffered.

Now that I'm out of journalism for the first time in my life, I'm trying to figure out how to schedule some writing time away from the office. It's tricky, especially since the things I want to write are mostly just projects of my own, not deadline-driven. We'll see how it goes...

something of an astrological coup (tipsy mothra), Monday, 16 April 2012 16:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

i've probably only stayed up late, like past midnight or 1am, working on something a couple times in the last few years. part of that's that when you have a kid and you have to be up with your wits about you every morning no matter what, i'm not gonna sacrifice sleep for ANYTHING, part of that's just that i've gotten pretty good at budgeting my time and thinking ahead, so usually i only get caught under the gun with tight deadlines if something comes up last night, or my schedule gets unexpectedly crazy. i don't think i function very well when i'm tired anyway, my copy comes out pretty sloppy.

some dude, Monday, 16 April 2012 17:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

i'm not gonna sacrifice sleep for ANYTHING, part of that's just that i've gotten pretty good at budgeting my time and thinking ahead,

^^^ this is key

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 April 2012 17:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

whatever my flaws or strengths as a writer may be, i'm pretty proud of the fact that i've never totally blown a deadline (not counting canceled interviews and things beyond my control), never called out of a day job to meet a deadline, and have become kind of a badass at transcribing and writing up interview features within 24 hours of the actual interview. those are things that all come with time, though, as dog latin probably knows everything becomes easier and more attainable with consistent practice.

some dude, Monday, 16 April 2012 17:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

These days I tend to write up Then Play Long entries late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The rhythm seems to work for me and I can write undisturbed. There has been a preponderance of fairly lengthy entries of late, which sometimes means staying up past 2am to post the piece, do all the links, etc., but that's mostly been down to gargantuan 20-track/40-track best ofs and/or Classic Rock Classics (TM).

The daft thing is that this is all for the sake of a blog, rather than paid writing/journalism, but I like to approach blogging in the same manner - you set yourself a deadline and you try your best to meet it. Of course the most important thing is that I still enjoy doing it - if it became a chore rather than a pleasure I'd stop it straight away, or at least take a long break. But I do feel that the blog is where the real "me" gets to say something. Plus I get to have a lovely lie-in when I finally get to bed, ahem...and on Sunday morning there's the nice feeling that I've actually accomplished something when I look at how many people have already read it (surprisingly quite a lot, even for the less well-known records).

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Tuesday, 17 April 2012 18:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

dude, marcello, your blog is insane and awesome, and i have no doubt that some version of it will be a book. an epic task.

scott seward, Tuesday, 17 April 2012 18:25 (2 years ago) Permalink

I feel this link should go here:

http://myphonecallssuck.tumblr.com/

In brief -- a music publicist I know vents his frustrations with the types of calls he receives.

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 14:34 (2 years ago) Permalink

it amazes me that some PRs are still trying to send post to the former address of a company i stopped working for in 2008

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

Whiney and another editor got me away from "I", came to prefer it, esp. conveying my take via sneaky description.Which imposes its own test: later for the passing zings, make your case (but don't cram it too full, as I've been known to do). I don't see too much "I" these days; "we" and "you" are much more problematic: "When we hear, it we're amazed", "you're amazed." I am?

dow, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

I avoid the first person on dates too.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

"so, what do you think about getting some thai food?"

"ONE MIGHT ENJOY THAT. ONE MIGHT ALSO ENJOY SOME SUSHI."

scott seward, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

i am pro-one

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

I can understand why "I" might have been a bad idea in print media, but in this day and age, who am I/you/we/one kidding? I don't mind "I" if necessary.

Scary Move 4 (dog latin), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'd much, much rather see (and OMG use) "I" than "one." But that "we" and esp. "you", yeesh.

dow, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

I use "I" a bit but sparingly, I think most commonly when I want to imply "YMMV" to the entire audience.

Tim F, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

You Made Me Vrealize. What?

Ned Raggett, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:32 (2 years ago) Permalink

one hates to continuously look up "ymmv" for one's edification.

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

We think "ymmv" is a fine acronym, and we know you will too.

Tim F, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:35 (2 years ago) Permalink

i always forget "ymmv" too. it's just not a phrase one ever says in real life, is the thing

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah "mileage may vary" is a pretty obscure phrase compared to "kissing my teeth"

some former lust object you've shamefully forgotten (some dude), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol

man down (D-40), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

isk how many times i have to explain that kmt is a thing in the uk

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

*isdk

liberté, égalité, beyoncé (lex pretend), Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:55 (2 years ago) Permalink


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