Well, I am writing this on my employer’s computer during work hours. And I don’t even feel guilty about it – the same increases in productivity via computers and the Internet that now allow me to do the work of three people for my employer (at the same pay, of course) also lets me do some extra-curricular activities – all with time to spare.
I find I can get a lot of networking done on Facebook, G+ and the various new music blogs during work hours. Reading articles, posting comments and maybe creating some album artwork – all easy to do between phone calls, quoting prices, responding to emails or rewriting technical specs for our products where I work. I can also print out scores, break out the parts and get them ready for copying. So one way to leave more time for composing at home is to get all the other stuff done at work. Of course I have my cubicle set up so I can quickly put my emergency spreadsheet on the screen as soon as anyone approaches, but that is actually pretty rare.
At home I try to reserve the same time slot each week for composing and for me this is Saturday morning. I’ve been able to sleep in so I am refreshed, the house is quiet and I know I can concentrate on getting all the notes in the right places. I work strictly by PC – so I don’t need to bang around on a piano or fool with staff paper – it all goes straight into the notation program. When I’m finished I can print out a .pdf score and upload to my website in just a few minutes.
I do a bit of processing to the resulting midi file – sequencing, normalizing, maybe stretching or adding some reverb, echoes or equalization. But the final mp3 or .wav file can be uploaded directly, again in a matter of minutes. Everything is on my laptop so I can do this pretty much anywhere – although I prefer the familiar surroundings of home. But the whole process is a beneficiary of the efficiency that the PC (and Mac) has brought to music creation over the last several years.
All of this has encouraged me to believe that a full-time day job need not prevent the composer from a reasonably productive musical output. Many of us must make a living outside of music – and even if you are teaching the academic life is pretty crowded with job-related responsibilities. It might even be argued that a full-time composer will spend much of his time on non-composing tasks anyway – networking, rehearsals, traveling, overseeing the distribution of scores, etc.
So what makes you productive? Do you have a full-time day job? How would your composing habits change if you could work at it full time? If you now work exclusively at writing music, what is the best thing about full-time composing?