I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly important it is to acknowledge your success in creating, to completion and delivery, a musical score. This music that you have produced is an integral part of the film, show, game or whatever project it is. It could not exist in its current form without your efforts.
For the sake of your growth as a composer, sound designer, or other post-production professionals, you must underline the importance to your own psyche that this is a moment to be emphasized and cherished, that it is something desirable – and so to be repeated.
How often have you actually gotten to the stage of delivery in all of your projects? As Lee said in this post
, it’s never a done deal that the project will complete and you’ll be able to get to that all-important stage of delivering your musical opus. So when you do get there… celebrate!
Reap the Rewards
Reward yourself – it doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to mean going on vacation for 3 months, but it must be significant.
You want to spend a day reading that book you never have time to get around to? Do it, and enjoy it, and banish any feelings of guilt that you should instead be working on something else!
Go out for a meal, go sit in the park, by the beach, catch up with friends over a coffee. For a certain length of time, be it a week, a day, or even just a few hours, get a change of scenery or schedule and just have fun.
Reward your family and friends, the ones that stuck by you when you were working long hours, the ones that made sure you ate properly and kept the roof over your head whilst you were waiting for the installments to come through, those who had their ears bent whilst you whined about how the project may not have been going to plan or you were having a tough time with a colleague.
You know who they are. Let them know that they’re appreciated and that they had a significant hand in you achieving this success – and that they get rewarded too!
Space and Time
The importance of stepping back and allowing a little space and time to reflect on the processes and experiences you’ve gone through to reach the success of delivering cannot be overstated.
Lee’s post on the ‘Post-Mortem’ process
illustrates this very effectively: check what went wrong, system-wise and operationally, select material for demo versions and samples, paperwork and admin updates, thanking people who helped get the project to this stage.
I think the point Lee mentions at the end is possibly the most significant in the long run: Gratitude. Being thankful to yourself that you worked hard to get to this point in the project – that delivering a finished, finalized score is no mean feat – is essential.
You have the skills and the talent to achieve something great, possibly life-changing but at least enjoyable for those that hear and experience the project, whatever form it takes. Acknowledge this.
Recharge Your Creative Batteries
Going from one project to the next without a period of time to recharge can be dangerous. Creative burnout is a serious issue for those of us working in the creative industries, not least because the creative value we produce is our source of money!
Having a temporal buffer between projects is essential not only for the reward and analysis procedures already mentioned, but for recharging your creative batteries. Get some distance from the music and sound themes of the project just delivered, or risk inadvertently re-hashing those themes and ideas for the next gig.
You need time to let those ideas go and to get prepared for the excitement of new themes, textures and colors that will come to you, given that chance.
Accept Compliments Gracefully
Finally, in acknowledging your own achievement in delivering an awesome score on schedule in an organized and professional manner… you must also learn to notice and accept the compliments and acknowledgments of others! If someone praises your work, say thank you! Do not put down the achievement with, ‘it was nothing,’ or other such self-effacing statements.
You know as well as I do: it certainly was not nothing.
By acknowledging success and accepting compliments graciously, you will build confidence in your abilities and improve your self-esteem, which will ultimately mean the improvement of you as a composer. You’ll be more assured of your skills and potential, will have more faith in your own ideas and opinions about the use of music and sound in film.
Rather than staying within the safety and security of ‘what works’, you’ll be more willing to take the risks required to create something genuinely brilliant and different next time.
Having the time and space to reflect is no luxury. It is an essential part of the process, a tool not only to analyze and correct any problems, but to gratefully accept the success that you’ve achieved in delivering this score.
Ultimately, it will only make you a stronger and better prepared for the next gig!
Based in the North of England in the UK, HEATHER FENOUGHTY is an award-winning freelance composer and sound designer. She has scored several feature films and documentaries for the BBC and ITV, and her credits also include nearly 100 short films including a BAFTA-nominated drama (Nits, 2004). She has composed music and sound designed corporate advertisements for Nissan and other multi-national companies, with clients based all around the world. She also creates soundscapes for cutting-edge contemporary theatre, and her scores have played on the West End and off Broadway. To learn more about Heather and her music, visit www.heather-fenoughty.com.