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Kill Your Darlings

Howdy, Listeners. My name is Blake and I’m the real live human boy responsible for the social media here at F@W. Yes, even though our techies and scientists are geniuses, they haven’t perfected our AI well enough to self-generate posts any homo sapiens might find interesting.

When I first met Will (Henshall, our co-founder) a ways back, he pitched me on the concept of F@W. Intriguing, but no dice for me, I thought. I’m a writer. I write books and blogs, and everything in between. That means – and I’d apologize for ruining your romantic notions of a writer’s life, but we know many of our users are writers, so it’s already ruined for you – my existence consists of ass-in-chair and laptop open, up to 18 hours a day.

On the plus side for me, that meant listening to my favorite music, often 18 hours a day. “My writing is really rhythm-based,” I told Will. So I listen to my hard-driving EDM stuff, and my 80s synth-pop, rife with drum machine beats.

My favorite kind of song builds slowly and quietly, almost imperceptibly, accreting layers until BOOM! the massive swell, or the bottom drops out or whatever major change occurs. Suddenly, it’s clear the whole track’s structured that way; it’s all been leading to that inevitable place, without which we’d feel gypped or worse. Think “Fix You” by Cold Play or “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol.

So when Will described the special way they engineer and produce the songs here, I thought – I actually said – no way. No major key changes? No beat-drop? No crescendo? No lyrics even? “That would be like edging toward an orgasm, and getting left high and dry!”

He smirked. “Just try it, Mate, will you?”

Ugh.

My songs are my constant companions in an otherwise barren landscape of hard work and discipline. They’re my familiars. My friends. I expected I’d be lonely without them. Long before I started my work life, I’d put on my giant headphones, lay on my back in my bedroom and listen endlessly to my Depeche Mode, my Erasure, my Pet Shop Boys, my New Order, my Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

And when I wanted to change it up, my AC/DC, my Judas Priest, my Pachelbell. I knew every chord, every note, every hiss and pop of the vinyl. And yet with my favorites, I found endless surprises, always something new even after the thousandth airing of the song (here I’m thinking about U2’s “Unforgettable Fire” album).

I learned by experience the true brilliance of stereo, the way it could simulate distance, direction, and movement. My God. I fucking loved my music.

“Just check it out,” said Will. He sent me a free subscription to F@W.

I had to be honest. Of course I found myself frequently distracted at work. Procrastination. Multitasking. Social Media. And when I thought about it, I realized that whenever I was enjoying my music, it was stealing valuable brain space I needed to focus on the task at hand.

So I gave it a shot. First go. I sat down to write a chapter for a book, about quantum physics of all things. Think I’m about to say my writing took a quantum leap? It didn’t. In fact, I found the channel the app recommended for me (Baroque Whatever) decidedly distracting. Alpha Chill and Up Tempo sounded a bit more my speed.

Now, the magic of F@W is that you’re not supposed to choose music that you actually like. Nor dislike. The magic works when the kind of music is emotionally and intellectually neutral for your personality and brain type. And the energy level syncs to your needs and the work-type.

So I fiddled and futzed and experimented on that first day. A few focus sessions of 20 minutes and more until I realized I’d been writing nonstop for an hour and barely registered the music. It worked! And I never went back. I was so impressed at how much it improved my focus, I wound up working for the company.

And now I reserve my favorite music, my beloved playlists, to recreate my childhood and teen music-listening experience. When I’m not working. When I’m chilling. When I can lay on my floor and stare up the ceiling and really appreciate it. My favorite tunes have no place anymore in my work life.

With the app, I can now focus. At will. Try it for yourself. Visit focusatwill.com.

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