What is Your Why?

2021 blog Feb 15, 2021

When I started writing arrangements it would take me days, if not weeks, to finish one big band chart. This wasn’t unusual nor concerning because I was a teenager and had little exposure to how arrangers worked and had few expectations about deadlines or process. As my knowledge increased my skills improved I was able to work more quickly. But I still faced the same issue when I struggled to finish a piece: “How do I recreate the same thoughts I had when I began?”.

Every time you sit down at the desk (or keyboard in today’s environment) it will be a new day. Your body will be different.  You will be processing what happened the night before or be preoccupied thinking about  a future event. Everyday is different. So how, do we recreate the mood, the intellectual thought process, the urgency of the moment - all of the above?

I needed to know what my why was.

I found that I could get back to square one if I were to take the time to articulate exactly why I was doing the project and what it was I wanted to achieve.  When I could recall with certainty why I was doing the project and what I wanted to achieve I would magically be able to recreate the state of mind that drove me at the beginning of the process.

The dictionary tells us purpose is the reason something exists, an intended end; aim; or goal. Purpose creates meaning, offers a sense of direction and helps guide our paths, behavior and our goals when applied to our lives.

Creative endeavors are an exercise in trying to make abstract ideas real in the world. We take a feeling, a memory or idea and organize a seemingly endless array of individual pieces of data into a form that is pleasing to us, and hopefully, pleasing to others. Due to the sheer enormity of possibilities it is incredibly easy to:

  • Forget your initial intent
  • Shift your goals 
  • Lose focus on your objective
  • Not complete your task.

I suspect writer's block is a result of some or all of these factors. A way you can deal with these frustrations is to know what your why is. In other words: be clear about your objective before you begin work. 


Why is this important and worth the effort? 


Without a defined purpose you will never be able to measure and assess your efforts. You will find it extraordinarily difficult to determine if you have actually made progress or achieved your goals. 

In my ebook: “Finding Your Way Forward” there is a workbook that will guide you through how to incorporate this into your workflow.

For a different look at the same problem read: "I don't have to worry about technique"

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