Taking the form of the NaNoWriMo influenced time constrained artistic challenges which are growing both in number and popularity, February Album Writing Month (or, FAWM), sets musicians and songwriters, both amateur and experienced, the challenge to create 14 new songs in 28 days. As with many such challenges, the emphasis is not on high quality, polished work, but rather on output to be grown and edited at a later time. It’s as much about active participation as it is about the creative process, and the online community is supportive and friendly.
For me, participation has meant having an extra driving force to stop worrying about the fact that I’m still learning the ropes, or that what I’m doing doesn’t sound quite how I’d like, and start getting ideas down. At the time of writing, I’ve published two tracks, both of which I’m reasonably happy with as rough drafts, and both of which I intend to work on further once the month is up.
Without the purpose of a set challenge behind me, I’m not certain I would have had the confidence to publish anything for a while yet. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s a hell of a lot easier to say “here’s something I made for this specific reason”. The limitations of the project act as a safety net, in some ways. The time constraints mean that there’s an implicit understanding that quality of work is not the goal, and for anybody without years of experience, that is a massive asset. I know I’m not going to be creating anything amazing after only a few months learning, but this gives me the opportunity to get ideas down, put them out there, and get some feedback much sooner than I might have done otherwise. Feedback and constructive criticism means progress, and I welcome both.