Keeping Your Spirits Up in a Songwriter's World

Making a to-do list is a good way of organizing your day and making songwriting a bit easier to get to.

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Beating Songwriter's Block - Jump Start Your Words and MusicThere’s nothing worse than trying to write music, but feeling so disorganized with your non-musical life that you can’t get to it. Additionally, writing songs can be stressful enough without worrying about the fact your English essay is due, or you’ve forgotten some other important thing.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 4, “Thinking Like a Songwriter”, from “Beating Songwriter’s Block: Jump-Start Your Words and Music“, published by Backbeat Books. It offers suggestions for getting organized and staying positive about songwriting.


It’s a good idea to clear your schedule of chores before sitting down to an evening of songwriting. A to-do list is an easy way to get organized and stay organized, and there is nothing new in the suggestion to make one. But if you are the kind of person who gets easily discouraged by the difficulty of checking off items on a list, here is an idea that may help you feel a greater sense of accomplishment: put things on your list that are likely to get done even without effort on your part. For example, when listing the chores that need to be accomplished during your day, include things like, “Eat breakfast,” “Go to work,” “Take a 15-minute break,” and so on. Once you’ve completed those items, draw a line through them. There is a psychological boost that comes from crossing something off a list, even if it is an event that requires practically no effort or time. That boost encourages you to tackle the items that do take more time and effort. You will be able to clear that list in no time, and songwriting is often easier when there is nothing else weighing on your mind.

Like drawing a line through an item on a to-do list, attending to your songwriting duties for the day will give you a feeling of achievement and even victory. But if that’s not happening for you, don’t automatically conclude that your songwriting schedule (see Chapter Two) is to blame. Even though your normal routine makes, let’s say, 7pm to 8pm the logical time to write, you may discover that that is not your most productive time. In that case, you may find that your schedule needs a bit of tweaking. Remember that a songwriting schedule needs to fit easily into your day, and not place unreasonable demands on your time; that would cause stress and ultimately be counterproductive. It also needs to work well with others in your living situation. So balance is key. Nonetheless, if you find that a scheduling decision has led to one day of the week being consistently more unproductive than others, take some time to come up with something that feels better. Ultimately, of course, success will be measured by your ability to write songs, not your ability to follow a schedule.

Another crucial aspect of staying positive and feeling organized is feeling rested. Never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep in the complex formula of songwriting success. The effects of sleep deprivation on the cognitive processes of the brain are well documented. If you can’t seem to organize your musical thoughts, have you considered that you may simply be too tired to write? Are you getting enough sleep? Songwriters can spend a lot of time looking for reasons for their block, ignoring the more common possibilities, such as sleep deprivation. Start keeping a journal of your sleeping habits, and you should seea pattern emerging within a week. If you’re getting six hours or less of sleep on most nights, you are likely not getting enough, and your creative brain is suffering for it.


Beating Songwriter’s Block: Jump-Start Your Words and Music” (Gary Ewer) is a hardcover book available from Amazon, Backbeat Books, or any other online bookseller.

______________Gary Ewer

Written by Gary Ewer. Follow on Twitter“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” 6-eBook Bundle looks at songwriting from every angle, and has been used by thousands of songwriters. How to use chords, write melodies, and craft winning lyrics.  (And you’ll receive a FREE copy of “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.“)

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  1. Pingback: Interesting Links For Musicians and Songwritiers – May 18, 2015 | Creative Music | Inspiring Musical Creativity

  2. Thinking too hard about that special line or that attractive melody is a problem in itself
    I often say thats it for today lets sleep on it , then on my way back to our main house
    from my studio (built in our orchard) suddenly that line or melodic idea comes to me,
    I either go back over and spend more time on the demo I am working on or write it down
    and continue next day .
    Of course we dont all need a separate studio to do this , but it is nice to write in natures gardens, and it works for me, Its the sub conscious that continues working out our
    problems whilst we are doing something completely different;

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