Have the confidence to go for it. Do not let preconceptions stop you pursuing what it is you want to do. There are no rules.
I love collaboration – when it works, it’s a wonderful feeling. I love the combination of ideas and opinions that result in a score you may otherwise never have written, work that is more than the sum of its parts. Of course, it can come with challenges, when you know the music isn’t quite working, or you don’t see eye to eye with your director or producer, but in my experience at least, it does seem generally to work well in the end.
Say yes to most things, until you’re in a position to say no, and then recommend others for those things instead. Collaborate widely. Be hugely proactive. Put on your own gigs, start your own hubs/websites/record labels. Connect people and celebrate the success of others. Throw all the things you’re interested in into your work and don’t worry about trying to fit in a box.
Make music with musicians you admire, respect, and enjoy being around. Life is short; spend it with good and supportive people who inspire you to greater heights.
As a composer, success is writing a piece that I’m pleased with. The form makes sense, things fit together in a satisfying way, and the piece feels solid and cohesive, as well as being pleasant to listen to (or at least I find it pleasant to listen to). Other things that invoke a sense of satisfaction include challenging myself in some way and then fulfilling the challenge in the way I was intending to, or not quite fulfilling it but discovering something else along the way.
The most enjoyable pieces to work on are usually ones where I am writing for someone I know well—whether it’s a performer, an ensemble, or a conductor. It’s satisfying to have an ongoing musical relationship in this sense. I am writing for someone I know well, then I already have a good sense of their musical personality, their strengths, their interests— I can play with these ideas and allow them to filter through and mix with my own ideas, to create something new.