07 – A Bucket-Load of Confidence

For the last few years, my music has graced various stages. I’ve played in all sorts of places, from quiet pubs in dingy parts of sleepy towns, to bustling festivals in busy city centres, and it’s been great! Sure, I’ve had a few bad gigs here and there, but the fantastic ones more than make up for them. Recently, however, my confidence has taken a knock, and I’m not entirely sure why. Something’s got me second guessing chord changes, and overthinking the lines I’m about to sing to the point where I almost forget them. Perhaps it’s that I’ve been dedicating so much time to editing In The Black Blood that I’ve not been practicing enough. Maybe it’s that I’ve started a new job and learning the ropes it taking up the rest of my time. Or maybe it’s because I’ve had writers’ block for a while and the lack of new material is getting me down.

I don’t know for sure.

07 - A heap of confidence

Despite not knowing the exact cause, I decided last week that enough was enough. I was going to break this spell of low confidence the only way I know how, by playing gigs. Without wasting any time, I took myself to an open mic night at the Thomas A Beckett pub, to play music alongside Rhys Gradwell, Kirsty Crawford, and Sam Stopps. That old adage of “fake it until you make it” really is a good one. I went on stage convinced that I was going to be confident, and as a result my set went incredibly well. The following night, I made the last minute decision to head to the new open mic at O’Neill’s in Northampton, where again, my set went well. On both nights I even managed to sell a few CDs.

Bolstered by my mid-week success, I headed to a small festival on Saturday, Read-ing Fest (hyphen intentional). It was a glorious day, the sun was shining, and I took to the stage in front of a smattering of festival-goers. It went well!

If doing three gigs in one week has gone this far towards restoring my confidence, think what the performances I’ve got lined up over the next month will do to help! What’s more, I’ve found that getting out and playing has got my creative juices flowing again. Lyrics have been popping into my head all week, and I can’t wait to see how the next month goes.

Have a productive day.

Points Earned:

Read-ing Festival +15
Rushfest +15
Added ITBB compendium entries +5
Songwriting session with Tom +5
Work on the Super Secret Project +5
Blog post +2

Total Points +128

06 – A Productive Partner

Maintaining productivity isn’t easy. Many millions of people struggle with it every day. The easy option is to sit yourself down in front of a television or Youtube (who doesn’t like cat videos?) and switch off for the evening. Productivity is the hard option. It can feel like a chore, especially if you also work full-time. That feeling is exactly why I started working on The Points Project. It directly links productivity and fun, and so far I’ve found that it’s helped me strike a fantastic balance between the two.

I’ve also found something else that’s significantly improved my productivity; having a partner in crime! It’s fantastic to have someone to bounce ideas off, someone to provide constructive criticism, and simply having someone there while you’re working on things can make it a lot more fun. Working with someone, even if you’re not working on the same thing, can prove to be inspiring.

A little over seven months ago I met someone who was very creative and looking to get more productive, and we’ve both made a lot of progress during those seven months. My productivity partner is my girlfriend, and seeing her accomplish things drives me to work harder, and we’re always on hand to help each other out. When she posts a blog, I want to post a blog. When I need something proofread, she’ll do it. When she wants ice cream, I’ve got a spoon.

06 - A Productive Partner2

It’s working incredibly well and I’d urge anyone reading this to give it a try. It doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, close friends or colleagues will no doubt work well too, but you’ll need to find someone with a few key traits. Someone who…

… knows how to give constructive criticism.
… knows how to accept constructive criticism.
… you can work beside without constantly being distracted.
… has a similar level of ambition to you.
… is interested in what you’re trying to achieve.
… is trying to achieve something you’re interested in.

If you find someone like that, you, my friend, will have found the holy grail of productive partners.

Have a productive day.

Points Earned:

Open Mic +15 (x2) (While fun, they’re very time consuming. Hence the points value.)
Cassie’s Housewarming Gig +10 (also time consuming, but being paid reduces the points cost!)
Added entries to the ITBB Compendium +5 (x3)
Wrote a blog post +2

Total Points +81

05 – Music – An Introduction

Years ago, I stumbled upon that oh-so-unique area of Youtube where the singer/songwriters reside; now I’m one of them.

I began songwriting in December 2010; I fell in love with the art after listening to Catrien Maxwell singing in her bathroom (she released a video… I wasn’t physically there!). Fast forward five and a half years and I’ve got more than two hundred gigs under my belt, have released two mini-albums (MAs), and put a bucketload of videos on Youtube. For those interested, a bucket-load is 43.

Cover 140 by 127

In particular, I’m super proud of what I’ve created over the last two years. In early 2015, I released the Misfits mini-album, netted myself some radio play, and got some fantastic responses, including invitations to play festivals near and far. I’m now back in the studio working on a follow up release with my good friends Tom (recording guru and drummer) and Andrew (bass wizard), while also producing videos and promo materials to keep Misfits relevant.

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Over the next few months I’ll be documenting it all as part of The Points Project, covering everything from setting up gigs and photoshoots, to writing songs and dealing with the PPL, ISRC codes, VPL, and PRS… I know, that’s a lot of acronyms, but I promise to make it an entertaining somehow… My first goal is to get back into the local open mic scene, and the first step towards doing so is to attend at least three in the next week! Let “Will’s Week of Warbling” commence!

Have a productive day.

Points Earned:

Began In The Black Blood compendium + 5
Wrote a blog post +2
Recording +10

Total Points: +24

04 – In The Black Blood – An Introduction

If you’ve been keeping up with my previous blog posts, you’ll have noticed “Edited book chapter” pop up in the points tallies pretty frequently. I’ve been writing creatively for as long as I can remember and it’s largely influenced by my penchant for the farfetched and unusual; I’ve written novels or short-stories about all sorts, from mystery earth-bound plots to twisting sci-fi dramas, and I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ve just finished the third round of editing on my latest creation; In The Black Blood!

04 - In The Black Blood - An Introduction

In The Black Blood has been a project of mine for the last few years, satisfyingly filling time around my music and professional careers. It’s set approximately 400 years after a zombie apocalypse and follows the stories of seven characters, several of whom have fates that are unknowingly intertwined. It’s a story about greed set against the backdrop of post-apocalyptic England (and a little bit of France). There’s a long way still to go, but I’m proud of my accomplishments with it so far.

While doing my third major edit I wrote a list of everything I wasn’t completely happy with in the book; the next step for me is to go through that list and decide what needs changing. After that I’ll do an edit by character, rather than chronologically, to double check that I’ve ironed out any inconsistencies in the “voices” of each character. Following that I’ve got the daunting (and extremely exciting) task of trying to find a writing agent! Over the next few weeks and months I’ll keep this blog updated with information and any further developments on the book.

Wish me luck!

Have a productive day.

Points Earned:

Edited a book chapter +5 (x3)
Created a Social Media scheduler +3
Installed TweetDeck +1
Wrote a blog post +2

Pre-purchased No Man’s Sky -40 (oops)

Total Points: +7

03 – Shiny Things (Points and Rewards)

The Points Project is simple really. Complete task, receive points, spend points. Easy peasy, but I think it’s time I explained how the points and rewards aspects work! I’ll soon make The Points Project spreadsheet available so you can play along too. Yes, it’s a spreadsheet, stop grimacing. It’s got buttons and everything! First thing’s first… how do I decide the points value of a task?

Allocating Points

Simply put, it’s a mix of time investment, motivation, and importance. As a starting point, I allocate one point for every 10 minutes that it should take to do a task, then adjust the value a bit depending on the importance of the task and how keen I am on doing it.

For example: Restringing my guitar isn’t the most exciting part of my music career but it’s important, so though it only takes about 20 minutes I give it a whole 3 points! By contrast, editing a chapter of my book takes around an hour. It’s also important but I actually enjoy doing it, so I value it at 5 points. The idea of doing things this way is that it’ll encourage me to do the things I would usually put off.

03 - Shiny Things1

It’s not an exact science by any means. If you’re playing along at home, just try and be fair. Figure out what works for you; the system will only work if you let it.

Earning Points

Easy:
Complete task. Get points.

Spending Points (i.e. Choosing Rewards)

Much like allocating points, this isn’t so straightforward to figure out. Again, try to be fair and figure out what works best for you. I spend points in two ways: doing and buying fun things. As with allocating points, one point equals 10 minutes, so if I want to spend an hour playing a video game it’s going to cost me six points. Likewise, I want to buy something fun, the cost is the number of points it’s going to cost me. If I want to buy a DVD for £10, it’s going to cost me 10 points too. Necessities (food, fuel, clothes, etc.) don’t count here, and if the purchase in question will help with future projects or productivity I halve the cost. Ideally, I never want to go into points debt, and it should only happen in the event of a big purchase that will have an immediate impact on my productivity.

03 - Shiny Things2

Both my points and rewards systems are movable feasts; they’ll need tweaking and refining no doubt, but it’s a starting point! Good luck figuring out your own methods. Have a productive day!

Points Earned:

Edited book chapter +5

Blog post +2

Total Points: 26

02 – A Prehistoric Congratulations

Generally speaking, it’s not wise to set up a new blog and then immediately vanish into thin air, but that’s what I did. Or near enough anyway. I didn’t actually vanish but stepped on a plane to Portugal with my girlfriend. Unsurprisingly, lounging around by the pool doesn’t offer too many opportunities for productivity, so I had to put The Points Project on hold for a little while. Though that’s not to say that I spent the whole week being an unproductive lump; I managed to edit three book chapters while I was there (more on what that book’s about in a blog post or two).

It’s been a tradition for a number of years for my sister, Hannah, and me to make cards for each other’s birthdays, and this year was no exception. However, Hannah’s birthday fell slap bang in the middle of my trip to Portugal so, late one night before leaving, I picked up my pencil and drawing pen and set to work. I’m a fan of making cards, and many take a similar form to this; heavy lines done in pen, shading done in pencil. It’s nothing too fancy, but I think it can be pretty striking. I looked up a picture of a cartoon from the internet as inspiration, sketched it in pencil, then went over the lines in pen.

Now… you’d be forgiven for wondering why the birthday card I made for my sister has got a picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on it. Well, it’s a bit of a long story, but to give you the cliff-notes: I forgot to make her a card last year. She said that, in order to make up for it, I’d have to give her a birthday card at Christmas with a raptor on it… which I did. When it came to this birthday I had to wrack my brain to come up with something better than a raptor, and clearly a T-Rex was my only option.

Next year she’s getting a meteor.

(And yes, I know the bubble writing is terrible)

Points Earned:

Made a birthday card + 2

Blog post + 2

Edited book chapters + 5 (x3)

Total Points: 21

02 - A Prehistoric Congratulations A

01 – The Setup

The Points Project is a motivation tool. In this hyper-connected world, where distraction and procrastination lurk behind each and every corner, The Points Project is my guide to getting things done. It’s my solution to finding balance between work and play. A way for me (and you) to increase productivity while still ensuring ample time for fun. After all, what good is hard work if you can’t enjoy the spoils?

The Points Project is split into two parts:

1) A simple points system for tracking and managing progress in various projects, as well as doling out rewards.

2) A blog to document how well it works.

So, how has The Points Project come about? Well, I’m the kind of person that loves to make music and videos, adores writing creatively, and gets a buzz from finishing a project and putting it out into the world. At any given time I’ll have at least two large projects on the go. Currently, I’m editing a novel, recording an EP, and managing a fledgling music career. The problem is that I get distracted far too easily, by everything from Facebook and Youtube to television and video games. I wanted a way to ensure I was making progress in my projects without making them a chore. I love games, I thought, so why not make it into a game? And so, The Points Project was born.

“How does it work?” I hear you cry! It’s very simple, don’t panic. I assign every part of every project a number of points that corresponds to the difficulty and time expected to do it (as a rough guide, 10 minutes = 1 point). For example, writing an email to a radio presenter might get me 1 point, while sitting down for an hour to edit a chapter of my novel would net me 6. By completing tasks I’ll rack up the points, then I can exchange them for rewards.

If I want to spend an hour watching my favourite cat videos on Youtube it’ll cost me 6 points, so I’d better make sure I have that at least that much in the kitty (pun intended) first.

I mentioned earlier that this could help you too, and I wasn’t lying. I’ll make the spreadsheet (yes, it’s a spreadsheet, sorry) available as soon as I’m happy with it. It’s not a perfect system, and it’ll need some refining before I get it right, but it’s a start, and it already seems to be working.

Points Earned:

Blog post + 2

Total Points = 2