I have rejigged my approach to composition a little over the summer, by which I mean the way in which I decide what and when to write rather than how I write it. In terms of how I write it is still a case of throwing something – anything! – down onto paper and then either binning it or polishing it until it shines, but I have often vacillated between working exclusively on a single piece and spreading my efforts over more projects.

While working on a single piece can be a very effective way of going about things, it does come with its hazards, especially if I run into a problem that I simply cannot work out how to fix. It is also very easy to begin a session of work with enthusiasm and ideas and then to become bogged down later on, which is not the best way to use one’s compositional time.

Spreading my efforts across multiple works has the benefit of keeping things fresh, although with the risk that I might lose some of the ideas that I had about one or two of those pieces. However, I must not underestimate the capacity of the composer’s brain to find the solution to a problem while looking in an entirely different direction, meaning that, oddly, not working on a piece can sometimes be the best way to work on it.

I have adopted the latter approach over the past few days, hopping back and forth between different pieces even in a single morning, and I have to say that I have logged off at the end of each session with a definite sense of progress, of having made at least a couple of steps forwards on each of those projects. I know that, had I been working on a single piece during those sessions, I might just have made similar progress, but that it would have been heavy going. Instead, I have come out feeling fresh and enthusiastic about the whole thing.

Better still, I have found that my brain is fizzing with ideas and problems, that all those different projects are bouncing off each other and triggering new combinations and solutions. If this way of writing helps to make the daily fight with those notes more of a pleasure and less of a struggle then it must surely be a step in the right direction, and even though it is very early days for this new approach the signs are good.