The elephant in the room: LIFE. RESPONSIBILITIES.
One of the biggest reasons people struggle to stick with songwriting is the fact that life is often gets in the way.
We have all sorts of daily obligations, like obligations to our jobs, friends, and families. And of course, none of these are things we should ignore or walk away from, especially in favor of songwriting! That’s just a good way to isolate yourself from the people who love you, and make you a sad, unhappy individual.
Our lives should be rich and multifaceted and filled with many things that make us happy– Including friends, family, fulfilling work, and in our case: songwriting!
The key to creating a writing schedule that makes you happy is all in the planning.
The key to adding time for songwriting into your life’s schedule simply requires balance and planning. This way, you can make sure you give yourself time to enjoy your life to the fullest, take care of your responsibilities, and enjoy writing – without feeling like you’re creatively stifled or letting people down.
Step 1: Determine responsibilities you can’t walk away from.
What are you daily obligations right now? What are your weekly obligations?
Do you have a day job where you work during 9 to 5 business hours? Are your hours flexible, or set in stone? Do you teach or take care of somebody else full-time? Do you work on the weekends and have to weekdays open? Or perhaps you find that you only have lunch breaks free and the rest of your evening you prefer to spend with your family?
I want you to take note of every daily and weekly responsibility you have that you cannot give up on or do not want to give up on. This is stuff that will be hard-coded into your schedule. It’s not going anywhere!
Write these responsibilities down in your calendar, even if you know it like the back of your hand. Write it down anyway!
Step 2: Figure out when you can write.
Now that you are looking at your calendar and you see the times you have unavailable to write, where are the open spaces?
Do you have hour long lunch breaks in the middle of your workday? Do you feel like you could wake up an hour earlier every day in order to write before work or class? What are you doing on your commute on the train? Nothing? This is a good time to set aside for some creative free writing.
Block off times were you can happily and comfortably write. Seriously. Block off that time in your calendar for writing. When you physically write down or add that space into your calendar, it becomes much more real and much more undeniable. You successfully reserve that time for yourself, much like you’d reserve it for an doctor’s appointment or any other obligation!
Here are some places to look for free time to write:
- Lunch breaks
- Wake an hour earlier before work
- On the train on your daily commute
- Between classes
How long do you need to write? That’s up to you.
How long you give yourself to write will depend on your schedule and the kind of writer you are.
If you’re used to writing quickly, then a 30 minutes to free write on your lunch break between shifts is a good time to sit and be creative with your favorite notebook. If you take longer to write, perhaps section off an hour or a few hours wherever you can and dedicate those to finishing one song.
Work within the confines of your schedule, but also work with your strengths and abilities as a writer. Don’t stretch yourself to thin by overcommitting yourself to writing times that just don’t work for you. You will only frustrate yourself and songwriting will quickly start to feel like a chore!
Bonus tip: Communicate.
A lot of times you may feel guilty for wanting to close yourself into a separate room and write songs. You may feel like you are ignoring your family and choosing to do something over being with them.
First of all, having a hobby that you enjoy is not selfish. Secondly, a little communication goes a long way.
Talk to your husband or whoever and say “Hey, I really want to spend some time working on my song writing. I’m thinking of doing it at such-and-such-time on such-and-such days.” Sometimes even stating directly, “I don’t mean to ignore you, I just really want to go work on some music for a little bit!” is enough. Your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend or family should be on your side about this. It’s something you love to do, so clear yourself of any guilt and just be open and communicate.
Tools for building your songwriting schedule:
Trello is an online project management app that allows you to organize your tasks and give yourself deadlines. It’s a wonderful way to stay on top of your songwriting responsibilities as well as your life responsibilities! Trello is not the only online project management software out there, but it’s one of my favorites. Having used many, I use it to keep my music and SongFancy responsibilities organized! One of my favorite things about Trello in particular is that it’s very visual. Us songwriters tend to be more right brained and less left brained analytical, so Trello is a lot more user-friendly than something like a spreadsheet.
- Google Calendar
Google calendar and pretty much anything in the Google suite of apps is a Godsend. Google calendar will sync to your Gmail account, and work on your phone, tablet, and desktop. It’s easy to use and quick to change, unlike paper calendars. You can even use it to send out Google hang out invitations to cowriters if you want to cowrite online. Best of all, it’s free!
Calendly is a super cool app that can interface with your Google calendar and allow you to send out a link to cowriters to book time to write with you. Basically, you tell Calendly what times you’re available to write, and then you send a cowriter to Calendly, they can book one of those times to write with you. So easy!