How to Build Discipline as a Songwriter

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 become a 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 a song a day. Or at least writing something every day. Show up for your songwriting. Put your nose to the grindstone for an hour or so each day and just write. You’ll grow faster than you realize!

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. We’ve just created a free video series called the Stay At Home Songwriting Retreat to do just that – get you excited about your writing by asking the big questions. There are 4 songwriting prompts inside the series, as well as a special offer at the end for those who graduate.

Other inspiring activities that can kickstart your creativity: 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 apporach 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 Stay At Home Songwriting Retreat. It’s a 5 day video series, totally free, and walks you through some of the big, soul-searching conversations that we songwriters need to have with ourselves. It’s a great way to start your daily songwriting habit – let me lead you through 5 days where you actively work on your discipline as a songwriter!

Just launched our Stay At Home Songwriting Retreat video series! Perfect for those who scribble lyrics into notebooks, but secretly dream of sharing them one day. Learn how to own the title "songwriter" rather that just saying, "I write a little bit sometimes!" (oh, and it's tots free!)

You’ll come out on the other side feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to write. Check it out! Enroll below or get more details on this page.

Sign up for the Stay At Home Songwriting Retreat:

Building discipline? Hard! But spoiler alert: Discipline = growth = fun :)

Sarah Spencer

Sarah Spencer is an award winning singer/songwriter based in Nashville, TN. Born in the Sunshine State, Sarah Spencer writes vibrant, shining americana/pop music. She works in Nashville TN as a singer/songwriter, as well as a UX designer for a marketing firm. You can listen to her music at SarahSpencer.com or purchase her debut EP, "Freshman Year" on iTunes.