Being a “creative” type and being “disciplined” in your art may not seem like two qualities that go hand in hand. But being a disciplined practitioner of your art is a key skill that all creatives have to learn. Writing with it isn’t fun or without that lightening bolt of inspiration to jumpstart you is critical if you want to hone your skills.
Here’s how to become a more disciplined songwriter, so you can be ready when that next lightening bolt does strike.
How to be a more disciplined songwriter
This may come a as a SHOCK: Write every day!
I know, I know, sooo predictable. But it’s so important! If you’re not in the habit of writing every day, making a habit of it can help you become a more disciplined songwriter faster than just about anything else. Get into the daily habit of writing something every day. That can men a full song, half a song, a list of song ideas, a verse, or a songwriting exercise.
Show up for your songwriting. Put your nose to the grindstone for an hour or 15 minutes each day and just write. You’ll get better, fast!
Make a schedule and stick to it
If you’re going to make a commitment to write every day, or even write more than you’re used to, making a schedule will help you organize your time. When your time is organized and written down, you’re much less likely to miss a “writing appointment” with yourself. And you’ll feel better about juggling all your current obligations and responsibilities, too. I’ve written a post on how to create your very own writing schedule that works for you. Read it here: How to Create a Writing Schedule.
Participate in a challenge
Challenges are a great way to kickstart yourself into creating your new habit of writing frequently! Here are some great challenges you can participate in, either with a group or solo:
- SongFancy’s very own 5 in 5 Song Challenge. Join the hundreds of SongFancy writers as we write 5 songs in 5 days to a series of daily prompts. Guaranteed to kick writer’s block and perfectionism out the door and get you writing. Side effects? Songs, confidence, and new songwriter friends.
- A DIY 30/30/30, a la Lesley Barth. Lesley wrote 30 songs in 3o days a a celebration of her 30th birthday. She also filmed each day’s song and posted it online, to keep herself accountable. She even brought in friends to cowrite with to lessen the weight of writing a fully finished song every day. Read about Lesley’s experience here and why she recommends everyone tries it. Heck, I might try it myself this August!
- Join the 100 Day Songwriting Challenge on Facebook. Songwriter Rigel Thurston created this group to document his personal 100 day songwriting journey, but also to invite other to do it alongside him. He has some fun rules, too. The challenge is currently in session and started on June 1st, so take a look inside the group and see if you can hop into the next one!
Learn your pitfalls
Do you get distracted by the internet easily? Disconnect your computer from wifi when you sit down to write. Do your pups or kitties always want to cuddle when you open your guitar case? Hand them off to your roommate or hubby for a bit. Figure out what your little distractions and pitfalls are, and avoid them like the plague.
A great tool for those who need the internet to write, but easily find themselves going down 2 hour long rabbit holes on the weird side of YouTube: Download a website blocker app like Self Control. Self Control blocks specific websites that you set, for a set amount of time. Know you’re going to be writing for an hour this evening? Set up self control to block Facebook, Youtube, and Netflix for the next 60 minutes.
Join a songwriting community
There’s nothing like talking with other songwriters to really pick up a ton of great advice on how to be a better, more disciplined songwriter. SongFancy’s 5 in 5 Song Challenge group is a wonderful place to talk song and make friends. Come into the group for the 5 in 5, but stay for the networking! Other membership communities like Global Songwriters Connection and Songtown are great for this as well.
Find some fun inspiration
If discipline is really sounding difficult right now, try doing something fun and inspiring: Catch one of my favorite TED talks on songwriting. Cruise the inspiration category of this blog. Try this crazy songwriting exercise for idea generation. Pick up SongFancy’s book of songwriting prompts.
Work on your self confidence
Sometimes, the one thing between us and a disciplined approach to songwriting is our confidence. If you feel a lot of anxiety and fear when it comes to sharing your songs, I encourage you to sign up for SongFancy’s course, Living an Inspired Life. It has a wonderful section on mindset for songwriters that’s focused on building your confidence by helping you own your gift of songwriting.