From all of my years of writing songs, one of the main lessons I’ve learnt is that in order to be prolific, you need to be consistent.
You need to just show up and do the work.
There is no use in learning how to write verses, choruses, bridges, middle eights if you don’t take any action in implementing what you’ve learnt.
Plus, there is no use in learning how to refine your songwriting process, cultivate songwriting ideas and internalising songwriting tips if you don’t take any action in implementing what you’ve learnt.
The first steps in taking that action is by simply showing up and doing the work.
The world is facing an epidemic right now; that is everyone wants to be successful, yet no one is willing to put in the work to be successful. We have been dumbed down and turned into dopamine and instant gratification seeking drones at our own will.
This reminded me of experiences I have had in past conversations with songwriters who were complaining about how uninspired they were feeling and how it was the fault of the world that this was the case.
Reece then goes on to say that…
For many, their environment has become so trigger-laden that it seems easier to simply talk about the work, rather than to actually do the work.
BINGO! Therein lies the issue here.
Songwriting (as well as any creative pursuit) is just as much a verb as it is a noun. It’s not enough just to say you’re a songwriter. No, you have to back that up with some songs.
This article also says that you can’t be a writer if you don’t write, you can’t be a cook if you never cook and you can’t be an athlete if you never train.
Writing songs encompasses all of those things. You write, you cook your recipe through your songwriting process and you become better at your craft by writing every day.
This is your training.
Right now, with the FAWM Songwriting Challenge in full swing, this lesson of just showing up and doing the work couldn’t be anymore relevant if it tried.
So, do just that… Show up and do the work, don’t just talk about how many songs you’re going to write. Just write them.
We all know that sometimes life, stresses you out for many, many different reasons. This is particularly true when writing songs especially if you’re participating in a demanding songwriting challenge such as FAWMor RPM.
…Your brain records things as you perceive them, not as they actually happen. So if you launch a colossal stress reaction every time someone nudges you on the train, or you read an annoying news headline, or discover you’ve run out of milk, your brain will record your day as having been inordinately stressful when in reality it was quite ordinary. Over time, an overactive emotional brain has trouble bouncing back.
This means that if you find yourself in the middle of a bout of songwriters block it probably means that you need to let go of some of that built up stress you have inside in which the cause of it could’ve come from anywhere.
The nine ways to stay calm in a crisis mentioned in the article are as follows…
Gentle morning exercise
Spend time with a friend
Start the day outside
Remember to breathe
Pour a brew
Immerse yourself in something else
Go for a walk
Write it down
The above list seems like common sense when you look at it however, I know from experience that common sense flies out the window once you find yourself in the middle of a stressful event such as songwriters block.
In the article, Sam explains the phenomenon of a creative rut in this fashion…
You know, when you open up your DAW, you’re excited, ready to start a new track, but for some reason you just can’t get anything down! This often leads to unproductive sessions resulting in more frustration and can even cause a long lasting lack of motivation.
It’s annoying, it sucks, and it’s a nightmare for those on a regular release schedule. And unfortunately it’s almost inevitable.
Been there, done that but the five things that Sam mentions in the article are activities that I can see being really beneficial if I incorporated them into my own songwriting process.
Take some time out
Collaborate with others
Organise and prepare
Feed your mind
These activities may seem like common sense however, if you’re like me, the desperation you feel whilst being in the middle of a creative rut makes it really, really easy for your brain to throw common sense out of the window and replace it with the dysfunctional fog of indecision.
I can really see that taking a deep breath and doing one or more activities from the above list would centre you enough to find your way out of the fog.
What do you do when you find yourself in the middle of a songwriters block? Do any of the above list resonate with you or, do you do your own thing to get yourself back on track?
If you have a songwriting link that you want me to check or, you have a question about one of the above links either comment below or, contact me and we can have a frank and robust discussion about it (as they say in politics).
I also think she’s saying that we also need to be brave enough to walk along paths less travelled and be prepared to experience inconvenient tangents and happy accidents in our quest for new songwriting ideas.
I enjoyed this article very much and found myself nodding my head in agreement while at the same time, feeling vindicated that my views on the infinite and sacred nature of songwriting ideas had resonated with someone else.
What are your views on this matter? Do you think that songwriting ideas reside in the spaces in between and are waiting to be channelled?
In a recent post on my personal blog, I talked about my habit for hoarding information as a means of procrastination to the point where my Evernote account has over 32000 links on various topics of interest (songwriting being one of them) to be read at a later date.
These links have accumulated over time because I have a morning ritual of scanning all of the RSS feeds I subscribe to (using a site called Feedly) and bookmarking anything of value to be read later.
Now, I definitely bookmark more information than I could ever hope to use in my blog writing but at the same time I don’t want to delete information unless I can find a way to use it.
Hence I’m starting a new initiative called This Week In Songwriting.
Put simply, This Week In Songwriting is a series of once-a-week posts full of interesting songwriting links that I find during the week that I want to share with you. I’ll be posting every Friday with the links starting from the previous Saturday.
I want to kick things off with a special first instalment of This Week In Songwriting with links that I’ve found from Tuesday, January 1st until Friday, January 11th.
In the meantime, here is the very first This Week In Songwriting…
This Week In Songwriting #01 – W/E Friday, January 11th, 2019
Well, I hope you enjoy looking through the above links. If there are any questions you may have or, you want to start a discussion about one of the links then feel free to contact me and we’ll take it from there.
Now that we are fast approaching the end of 2018, it’s time to really start focussing on your songwriting resolutions for 2019.
I’ve put together a list of possibilities to consider when working out what your songwriting goals are for the new year.
Write more Seems pretty obvious doesn’t it? Make the time to write more songs, blog posts, short stories, poems, journal entries even three pages of automatic writing as suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way…
Make part of your daily routine at least 30 minutes to do something remotely writing-centric and the writing habit will become second nature in no time.
Play more This could mean play your instrument of choice more or, even an instrument you’re not familiar with. This (playing an unfamiliar instrument) alone leads to an increase in songwriting ideas.
It can also mean play in the child-like creative sense, being open to have some fun explore where a songwriting tangent can take you. It may require you to get your hands dirty to keep your creative mind challenged.
Creativity is supposed to be fun.
Practise more A songwriting routine that has an element of disciplined instrument practise or song rehearsal time in it can be very fruitful indeed. There have been many a time where a song rehearsal session turns into a songwriting session thanks to a happy accident. When this happens run with it until you can’t run no more.
Read more To become better at writing lyrics you need to immerse yourself into the written word and let’s be honest… We are all guilty in some way of not reading enough.
Read more books, poetry, stories, whatever you can lay your hands on. Immerse your own imagination into the imagination of another person and see what songs can come out of that combination.
Revise more Now is always the perfect time to go through your songwriting ideas archive, your works in progress folder or your pile of old lyrics and revise them with a fresh set of eyes, ears, heart and imagination. Perhaps the passage of time will spark some new songwriting ideas from the old.
Plan more Planning and organising your songwriting time and your songwriting space will eventually give you the freedom to create as you’ve eliminated aspects of worry that an unorganised person would have to deal with.
Personally I believe that the planning and organising component of your songwriting process allows all of the other “fun” stuff to flow much more effectively.
Record more For me, the last two years have been one of the most productive for me as I had used that time to learn as much as I can about recording my music in my own home recording studio which has allowed me to record my songs and my songwriting ideas in a more professional environment.
Now I’m not saying that you have to go out and spend the money building a home recording studio but having something in place where the recording of a songwriting idea is in easy reach is very important to your overall productivity as a songwriter.
Release more Whether it be putting your songs onto a distribution platform like BandCamp or, uploading your songwriting demos to SoundCloud, releasing your music online for others to listen to and comment on is so very important as a songwriter.
We write songs so that can be heard don’t we? Well, put them out there and see what the world has to say about them.
Network more Whether you’re a performing songwriter or not, getting yourself out there and networking with other songwriters and other like minded songwriting and music industry folk is essential for your songwriting career.
You can do this with your local songwriting association or, you can join a few of the online songwriting forums or social media groups out there. Introduce yourself, make yourself known and you never know, you might just make some new friends.
Relax more Sometimes if you do too much of one thing you might stress yourself out and songwriters block may creep in the picture. Make sure you block out some time to do nothing or, at the very least something not songwriting related. Maybe take some time out to concentrate on your breathing and meditate, go for a walk or, find a nice corner and read a book.
Exercise more Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy life… Nothing gets the creative juices flowing more than feeling good about yourself and the world around you. Feeling this way makes you want to put in the work needed to make your songwriting career grow.
Personally, I need to take a leaf out of my own book and exercise more as I know I’m more productive when I do.
Collaborate more The natural byproduct of networking more is that you’ll find other songwriters who will want to collaborate with you.
Embrace these collaboration opportunities with open arms and relish in the fact that some different songs than what you’re used to writing will be created from the experience. Two (or more) heads are better than one when it comes to writing songs sometimes.
Listen more Probably one of the most important skills that a songwriter must have at their disposal is the ability to “actively listen” to the world around them. I’m not talking about “hearing” the sounds of the world around you. I’m talking about “listening” to the world. There is a huge difference between hearing and listening.
Make 2019 a year of cultivating the habit of listening. When you are still, really listen to the world as if you’re trying to internalise the sounds inside of you.
When in a conversation with someone allow them to fully express what they want to say without interruption. Really listen to what they have to say while they’re talking and don’t succumb to the temptation of thinking what you’re going to say next.
Only by really listening will you fully understand the world in which you write your songs about.
What activity on the list above do you relate to and want to expand on the most in 2019? Is there anything that I have missed out on? If so, let me know so I can write about it in future blog posts.
I want to wish everyone a safe and creatively prosperous 2019. May it be everything that you want it to be and more.