The Inevitable Stages of The Creative Process

There’s a reason why this tweet by director/writer/filmmaker Marcus Romer got so much attention. It describes the stages of the creative process so succinctly.

The Creative Process

1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This might be ok
6. This is awesome

I’m working on some new music and I’m hovering somewhere between #3 and #4 right now. Even though I’ve gone through this process so many times before, it’s still painful to be in the middle. Not much to do but to keep on slogging through.

I do have one go-to source to help me navigate through the middle of the process: Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Instead of banging my head against the wall when I feel like the thing I’m working on is going nowhere, I take a break and read this book.


Let’s Raise Money for Trans Rights

One of the reasons I love Bandcamp: they take a stand and put their money where their mouth is.

When Trump ordered the refugee ban, Bandcamp responded by donating 100% of their portion of sales for a full 24hrs to the ACLU. Many artists selling their music on the site decided to donate a portion of their sales that day, as well. Bandcamp sales that day reached a million dollars!

Now Trump says he’s banning transgender people from serving in the military. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

Once again, Bandcamp is stepping up. On Friday, August 4th, 2017, they will donate their full portion of the day’s sales to the Transgender Law Centre. The TLC works hard to protect the trans community. They’re doing important and necessary work in the US, and I think it’s wonderful that Bandcamp is fundraising for them.

If you purchase any of my music from Bandcamp on Friday, I’ll also donate my portion, so 100% of that money will go to the Transgender Law Centre. 

Let’s raise money for the TLC and spread more music around while we’re at it. It’s a beautiful way to support the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people.

(photo by Ali Eisner)

The 8 Hour Practice Day

This is how the idea came to be, sitting backstage with my friend Andrew, talking about our practicing habits. I was saying that I don’t believe people who say they practice eight hours a day. It doesn’t make sense. He suggested we actually do it.

A couple weeks later, we had a date booked on the calendar and an agreed upon schedule. We practiced from 9:30am to 5:30pm*, separately in our own homes, and met up to debrief over drinks at 6pm. It was do-able, after all.

Why not make it an annual event?

We’ve booked this year’s 8 Hour Practice Day for Monday July 31st, 2017. This time we have another friend joining us, and maybe next year we’ll have more.

You’re welcome to try this for yourself. If you want to do it along with us, here are the rules:

  1.  Pick a practice buddy. You’re planning to spend a lot of time alone, testing your powers of concentration, so you’re going to want some accountability and camaraderie.
  2. Block off a full day on your calendar. You and your buddy must find a day that works for the both of you. And commit to it.
  3. Schedule a get-together at the end of the practice day so you can debrief. This is important! You’ll need social time after being in a bubble for so long. Meet your buddy at the bar or a cafe and compare your experiences.
  4. Set up your practice space the night before. Get all the tools and resources you need for the day (might include: chair, music stand, computer, metronome, table, any books you want to use, amplifier, recording device). You don’t want to be scrambling to get this stuff together at 9am.
  5. Plan your practice. You can practice anything you want during the 8 hours, but you have to use the following template:


09:30 – 10:30
10:30 – 10:45     break
10:45 – 12:00
12:00 – 12:15     break
12:15 – 13:00

13:00 – 14:00     one hour lunch break

14:00 – 15:00
15:00 – 15:15     break
15:15 – 16:30
16:30 – 16:45     break
16:45 – 17:30


Why start at 9:30? It gives you enough time to do other things in the morning. Eating breakfast would be smart. Make your coffee. Stretch. Get email out of the way.

Other things to keep in mind:

– Put your phone into airplane mode when you’re practicing (or leave it out of the room)
– Decide when you’ll check e-mail during the day. Maybe you check it once at 9am, then again at 5:30
– It’s a good idea to go for a walk at lunch time. Move your body, breathe some fresh air.

Here’s the template:

The 8 Hour Practice Day – template

Print it out and keep it handy.

Happy practicing!


*Here’s the thing, though: when someone works a 9-5 job, how many of those hours are actually spent working? You take breaks, you have lunch, and you get distracted. In truth, our 8 Hour Practice Day could really be called The 6 Hour Practice Day. But since breaks are important and necessary in order to have a productive day of practice, it feels right to include them as part of practice time.



Back to Blogging

I’m going to commit to blogging every Wednesday for a while. “A while” feels too vague, though…I’ll say “for the rest of 2017” instead.

I can think of a few good reasons to keep up a blog:

1. to keep my site current
2. to keep my writing practice fresh
3. to get better at writing and talking about what I’m doing
4. to put things out into the world – you never know where they might lead
5. to take time to reflect on what I’m doing

More importantly, I hope that it’s interesting and/or useful to you.

So what can I share with you this week?

As I write this I’m listening to Bohren & Der Club Of Gore’s Piano Nights. The tempos are well suited to early morning writing. I’m feeling deep into summer mode and that means lots of gigs – festivals, mostly. Here’s where I’ll be over the next few weeks:

July 23 – I’m subbing in for Gord Tough on guitar with Sarah Harmer in Banff.
July 29 & 30 – I’m doing a couple solo lap steel performances as part of Stratford Summer Music Festival’s Musical Brunches series.
August 4Patricia O’Callaghan will be performing the music of Leonard Cohen at The Festival of Sound in Parry Sound, and I’ll be playing guitar and drums in the band.
August 6Bahamas is playing at Area 506 Festival in Saint John, NB.

I’ll leave you with this photo of Afie displaying his festival fashion and Jason just being Jason at Vancouver Folk Fest…