Campbell & Monson and The Art Of “Deadline Projects”

My buddy Benny and I wanted to play and write more music this year together. So, in true Nick style, another project was born based on simple short goals and the practice of announced deadlines. I seem to thrive on these lately.

These are the rules. Write, practice, perform, and record one song per month for the entire year of 2011. One continuous take, shot on video. The song is posted on a site at the end of every month.

So far it worked. January 31st is here and we posted the first song on a site made for the project called Campbell & Monson.

Why Do These Projects Work So Well?

These simple yet strict deadline based projects always work for me. I posted a photo per day for 3 years straight based on this type of project. I think that it’s the strict rules and removal of unnecessarily complications and annoyances that keep my mind focused on what really matters. Here are some examples from this latest project.

1. There is no recording studio or software where I can get lost in a sea of unlimited overdubs, presets and reverb types. Just one continuous take performed live on camera.

2. There are only two of us. No need to worry about writing a bunch of different parts. Besides, if the song isn’t any good on a couple of instruments, then the song just isn’t that good to begin with.

3. No pressure to be great or write the next hit. Just write and perform the best song we can every month and move on.

4. Time is limited. The song has to be ready to perform in 30 days. We don’t have time for little arguments, details, and flourishes. There is only time for what is most important, the song.

Fun and Iteration

Making it exciting and iterating quickly are the real secrets to these types of projects. Set short strict deadlines, remove anything that gives you anxiety to get started, and add elements to make it more fun. The only hard part left to do is post over and over again. Anyone can write one blog post, take one photo, or create one drawing. The hard part is doing it once a week for four years, and that is exactly how you get better at what you are doing. Trust me, it will get easier. Once it is part of a habit, your natural state will be posting on time, not stalling and procrastinating.

  • Nick

    I love it.

    Deadline pressure gets projects done.

    I did the same thing for a short animated film I was working on last year. I determined to release it on the deadline regardless of quality.

    Once you take the pressure away of “oh well, I can’t release this until it’s good enough” – it’s amazing how many more projects you can get done.

    And that’s not to say you put out crummy work. But even a 3-star completed project is better than a 5-star idea.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • So true. You have to get away from thinking about perfection. 5-star works aren’t made until you get quite a few 2 or 3-star tries out first.

  • Wow. I don’t visit this site as much as i visit GreyscaleGorilla, but i think i should most def be doing it. just reading the first two paragraphs was inspiring enough… Lemme spread the word.
    Awesome stuff Nick 🙂

  • I wanted to echo some of the same sentiments as those above. I can see more than anything you are very good at solving problems… problems that may, for the most part, be the ones which obstruct you from success at something. Way to go… I can see the Seth G. influence as well.. (big fan of Seth). I have been trying to get a site up and content (or the result of pursuing that which I enjoy) online for awhile. I think I will employ some part of this philosophy to get to my finish line.

    In all honesty, I was envious of the success/and the potential you had in GSG when I first tuned in back in 1/2010, and this caused me to assume this success/potential was mostly luck, now however, I see the talent you have that makes things like GSG successful.

    I will have to stop in at a Chicago C4D meeting and say hello.

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