I’ve been working on my sixth string quartet off and on for the last few months. I don’t have to get it to the group that will premiere it until next January, so no rush. But my work on it has coalesced to the point where I’ve decided to give myself a deadline of next Tuesday to finish it.
Why next Tuesday? There are a couple of orchestra pieces I need to get cracking on, and I’m going to an orchestra concert next Tuesday night, so I figure I will sit down next Wednesday morning and crack away, preferences and prejudices fresh in my ears
But why not just set the quartet aside in whatever state it happens to find itself? Because, as I say, the piece is at that point where some pressure – even artificial pressure — will be beneficial. I could dicker around with it for another year, but it’s close enough to being a real composition that I want to just force the issue a bit. Focus on getting it done, and a lot of the loose pieces may fall in place.
Really, it’s a no-lose situation. I might not complete the piece by next Tuesday – in which case, I still have 8 months to finish it. By forcing myself to push through it, I might end up with something I really don’t like – but again, I have another 8 months, and one of my favorite things to do besides starting a new piece is to start over on a piece I’ve chucked in the recycling.
Then there is always the chance it could turn out just right by next Tuesday.
Then I have eight months to write number seven.