An online community of bass players in which I participate has recently taken up the endurance challenge of 67 Days on the theory of 66 days to make a habit. Since, as of the time I write this, I am 95 days into my 100 Days of Bass challenge I thought it would be good to make some tips.
Even if you don’t play bass, but intend to do 100 days of something-or-other, consider how to modify the following observations to increase your own success in whatever it is you’re going to do.
- Make it something quick. I’ve found that it takes me about an hour start-to-finish to do my 100 Days of Bass entries (including about 20 minutes of posting the results online and sharing them with people). I can carve an hour out of my day because of how I’ve structured my life. Keep your challenge thing within the available time that you can control. This is especially important if (like me) you can get very ambitious and goal-driven.
- Plan on the first ten taking longer than anticipated. If it’s a new skill or using new technologies, plan on the first week or so taking longer. My first entries easily took two hours apiece because I was wrestling with organizing and setting up recording technology and using a few new social networks.
- Develop your system. For 100 Days of Bass I was doing recording, quick bounce to MP3, post to Soundcloud, then telling friends. The recording and Soundcloud side were major time-sucks. Even though the goal of my project was to make a new bassline each day, these extra tech things required me to focus on getting those systems dialed. I put in that time during the first ten days and it made the remaining 90 go much much smoother. Identify anything that can help streamline your production for your project.
- Look at your calendar. I had two cross-country trips that required flying during the 100 days. This means I needed to plan out how I was going to make/record and post a bassline while on the road. A bass, even an electric bass, is a challenging instrument to fly with. I do have a bass uke though, so I used that–it fits overhead. One day, I had to record in the airport via my iPad. I practiced all of this a few days in advance of the first trip. Be sure you know how you will deal with any travel or changes in access to technology (including your bass!) during the timeframe of your challenge.
- Determine up front what is the minimum required for your daily thing. Some days will be an absolute drag. Some days will not have enough time in them. Some days will be full of technology glitches. Some days you’ll be hungry, angry, lonely or tired. These are not the times to decide what’s ok for your project. Know this up front so you can power through on those days. While on the road, I found that recording wasn’t too bad, but posting everything to Soundcloud was absolutely abysmal. I just had an iPad and the Soundcloud publishing interface is Flash (?!?!?) only. Total nightmare. I was satisfied with simply making and recording the line, and posting them later when I returned. Ideally, you will want to be able to answer a simple yes/no question to determine if you did the thing or not.
- Enjoy the support of friends, but don’t depend on it. I was fortunate that most days I got a little bit of encouragement from someone in my project. But it didn’t happen every day. Make sure that the thing you’re working on is genuinely fun and interesting for you. In the course of the 100 Days Project I saw a lot of people fall off, and I have a feeling that some had trouble with posting their thing to the sound of crickets.
- If you stop, don’t despair. Just start again. Though I went through my first 95 days without stop (and hopefully will continue into the next 5 days!), some people didn’t. I was super impressed by those who say “Screw it if I’m a day or two behind everyone else, I’m still going to finish.” That takes immense courage. If you stop, remember that you can always start again.
- When it gets boring, go deeper. For me the big brick wall was around 35 days or so. It just started to feel a little pointless. I recognized it for what it was (I’d mastered the “easy” part of my task) and dug in a little deeper–exploring additional technology, exploring deeper musical aspects of what I was doing, trying some simple things. Within a week my motivation was back up and I had a whole new set of things to think about while working on my bass lines.
I hope these are helpful and that you pick an endurance practice of some sort. It definitely has had an impact on my bass playing–and pretty much not at all how I thought it would. But that’s another article.