Creating a songwriting schedule is the best way to keep writer’s block from hitting.
Depending on who you are, songwriting is either a profession, a hobby, or somewhere in-between. For the “somewhere in-between” group, it can be tricky to get the balance right. You’ve got your job or your schooling to consider, but you may also be making a buck or two playing your songs on weekends or evenings.
The question is, how do you make sure that you’re able to give songwriting the attention it needs while ensuring your job and/or school work don’t suffer?
Here are some thoughts for you to consider:
You need to decide on the level of commitment you feel comfortable giving your songwriting. Sometimes this happens automatically. If you find yourself doing songwriting as an afterthought, where you only sit down to write when it occurs to you, that may not be the level of commitment that will produce good music.
So without knowing yet how you’ll work it in to your schedule, think about:
- How important is songwriting to you?
- What musical commitments do you have that pertain directly to your songwriting (In other words, do you play in a band, or have an ongoing gig as a singer-songwriter that relies on your fairly constant output of new songs?)
- Is songwriting a hobby as opposed to a professional activity? Either are fine, of course, but it’s an important aspect of determining how to work it into your daily life.
One of the best solutions to writer’s block, and in fact one of the best ways to ensure that you keep writer’s block at bay, is to schedule your songwriting activities. Set aside time every day — or at least 5 out of 7 days weekly — for writing music.
That means that you need to schedule your songwriting the same way you schedule your work or class time. It’s important. Treating songwriting as an activity that you do only when there’s nothing else to do means treating it the same way as buying a chocolate bar on your way to work or school, and that’s not going to work for you.
When scheduling your songwriting activities, do it at a time where you’ve been able to have a short break from whatever else you have planned for your day. Doing an 8-hour shift at your job, and then sitting down to write as soon as you get home won’t often work. You need time to rest, relax, and focus your mind.
When you schedule your songwriting, be good to yourself. Don’t require 2 hours of writing on a day when you’ve had a full day of classes. On busy days, just schedule in a half hour or so. Take days when your schedule is light, and use those ones for more intense songwriting commitments.
Yes, it’s very possible to be a professional musician while still holding down another job, or going to school. I’ve always thought of “professional” as being a state of mind anyway. To me, being professional speaks directly to your attitude, not necessarily to the amount of money you’re making. A professional is someone who constantly improves, someone always looking to increase their audience base and the quality of their music.
The best way to balance your songwriting activities with everything else going on in your life is:
- Stick to the schedule you’ve made for yourself.
- Don’t be too eager to abandon work commitments for your songwriting. It is possible to do both.
- Do well in school. Failing at school has a way of making you feel negative about yourself, and that will permeate your songwriting persona.
- Give yourself the occasional day off from songwriting activities. You creative brain needs a break from time to time.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.