Tag Archives: insecurity

A real workout: Reps within reps

I’ve written a lot here in Composing Kitchen about something not terribly flattering: self-doubt. I always just put it out there on the table because I figure if you’re reading this, you’re probably considering (or already) re-engineering your life, and let’s face it: That is scary stuff. You might feel like the proverbial 98-pound-weakling facing one of those sweaty WWF guys.

Me against myself

From the outset, self-doubt has been my most well-muscled opponent. And to hit my goal of a new piece of music every day, I’ve had to wrestle it down every day. I’m happy to say I’ve bulked up pretty well.

Sure, I still get butterflies when I enter my studio: What will I write? Will I perform the parts well? Will I record and produce it well? But over time, I’ve built up much more confidence — faith, maybe —  that I will, eventually and ultimately, come up with something worthwhile.

I think that has to do with reps: just doing it, over and over again.

It’s clear that the types of writing I’ve done the most come pretty easily now. Song form, with repeated sections, causes just about zero jitters. But for the last month or two I’ve been creating the soundtrack to a really sweet indie film called Roswell FM, and although many scenes work well with (and the director prefers) song-style backdrops, other scenes require through-composed music, meaning it has no recurring sections but instead changes moment to moment to support the action/dialogue. Not as easy.

Even so, my work on Roswell FM has been like a mini-study of how this reps thing works. Scene by scene, I gained a little more confidence about each phase of the work: Interpret the director’s comments and my own gut to determine what the scene needs; choose the right musical feel to achieve that; and then compose, perform and produce it pretty close to how I hear it in my head.

Each one of those steps is huge! The nice thing is, though, that in between film jobs I’ve done that last chunk so many times that I’m faster and more skilled with it than ever. And experience leads me to trust that the others — the interpretation part, and the more demanding skill of through-composing to a scene — will also get easier with repetition.

So what’s the lesson here? I think it’s twofold: First — and this one isn’t news — take that big, daunting project that you have in mind and break it down into sub-steps. But then figure out the specific skills required for each step. Are there some skills that you can boost outside of the “big project” context by doing, doing and doing some more, to the point that they get scratched off the list of worries? If you’ve got a screenplay in mind, are you writing something to sharpen your dialogue ear every day? If your goal is a photo exhibit, are you shooting and shooting every chance you get?

Break it down and say, “Bring it on! More reps! The more the better! Grrrr!” And pose like a WWF guy.

Grrrrr.

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Inspiration, Insecurity, and Insane numbers of… goals.

I promised myself (and anyone who’s reading) that I’d get serious about posting weekly because I learn so much by looking back at what and how I’ve done in the last week. I’m a little behind with this week’s post but that’s in no small part due to a bit of soccer mania at our house. See, the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifications have been going on for a couple of weeks now and we’ve been watching. We aren’t fanatics about much in the sports world, but soccer and the Olympics are biggies for us.

Apparently not enough people in the US care about women’s soccer for the CONCACAF tournament to be televised here. I bet if more Americans knew how tight the qualifications were — that of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada and the US, only two teams get to go to the Olympics — it might get televised. I won’t complain, though, because we were able to watch all of the US team’s games online.

The US and Canada were predicted to emerge from the eight-nation field with the two Olympic berths, and they did, in that order. The US outscored its opponents 38-0 in 5 games (14, 13, 4, 3 and 4 to 0, respectively). That sounds like they dominated, and for the most part they did. But in the one game that mattered most — the semifinal versus Costa Rica to determine which team would get one of the two Olympic berths — they had the most trouble. They looked nervous, and they admitted as much after the game. In the end, they pulled through, got their ticket to London, and then went on to win the whole tournament by defeating the other Olympic qualifier, Canada. You can see the highlights, which are pretty impressive, at concacaf.com.

Our household fanaticism included lots of Twitter reading and youtube watching of related content. I was checking out tweets by some of the men’s national team players congratulating the women, and I got sucked into Landon Donovan’s stream. I hit a tweet by his amicably ex wife, Bianca Kajlich, of this quote: “One of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is because we’re comparing our ‘behind the scenes’ with everybody else’s ‘highlight reel.’” It’s attributed to Steven Furtick, a North Carolina pastor.

Doesn’t that just about sum it up? We watch the highlights and we see the best moments. But they are just moments. If we dig a little deeper, we hear Tobin Heath, for example, talk about making enemies by deciding not to play for her high school soccer team because she wanted the challenge of training with a boys’ club. We saw tweets berating Rachel Buehler following the 2011 World Cup. We hear Sydney Leroux say that by age 6, she knew that she wanted to play on the US Women’s Soccer team when she grew up, and so left Vancouver for the States (thanks to dual citizenship) at 15 to make it happen — and got booed for it each time she touched the ball tonight in Vancouver. We see video of Ali Krieger making herself keep running intervals after the rest of the team has stopped.

I love these women. And I know that the only reason they make it look so easy is because they work so, so hard.

The US Women's National Team following their win at CONCACAF

The US Women's National Team following their win at CONCACAF

If you’ve really got to compare yourself to someone else, keep it apples to apples. Everybody has highlights, and everybody has bloopers. And maybe every six months of effort you put in will yield just a few seconds of highlight reel — but they’ll be awesome.