A few months ago I composed about 15 minutes of electronic music of various instruments/synthesizers using FL Studio. I had a theme that connected all my pieces. I had a musical style going. I liked my work at that point. My intent was to get to 30 minutes and publish on Bandcamp.
But then about 5 weeks ago one of those weird, Karmaesque twists happened; by accident I stumbled upon a piano composing competition that left me with 5 weeks to meet the deadline. I had to compose between 10 to 20 minutes of solo piano music. So I had a choice. Continue with my album. Or stop the album, use any of its unpublished material that was usable, and work like a maniac to meet the deadline. The sensible part of me said "album" for which there was no deadline. The crazy part of me said "enter the competition! Do it! Do it! Do it..."
Craziness won. Being sensible lost. I decided to take the composing competition route. So over 4 weeks I worked like a lunatic, often composing until it was 2 or 3 am and I could not keep my eyes open at all. My method was 100% Finale. I didn't touch a keyboard or piano.
A few days ago I finished it!!!!!!!!!!! Over 10 minutes worth of piano tune that did not exist before I had done it! I like [sincerely] what I did. It's the best thing that I have composed to date by a long way. Different. Interesting. Probably a form of post modern impressionism. I learnt SO much from doing it. More than I could ever learn from any textbook. Sure. Books are good. But what I know now is out of sight compared to when I started. For instance I could not do a key change before I started. Now I can do them correctly. I want to compose again. I don't know when. Because right now I want to turn my brain off after putting the manuscript in the post box [the comp required a hard copy].
But that was my choice. I chose to go the competition route. I think that it was the right one. It means that the album lost material and momentum so it will probably not be published. But that is OK. Because I learnt so much.
But for other people. Do you go down the album route to get better as a musician? Or enter competitions either for composing or playing?