Whether you’re a full-time student or a full-time employee, a busy life can make songwriting difficult. And that’s a shame, because songwriting gives you the opportunity to be creative in a way that your job or studies often can’t, or at least don’t.
But after putting in an 8-hour shift, it can be difficult or impossible to feel creative. No wonder we veg in front of the TV at the end of the day; it seems easier to be inert than to be creative.
But there are things you can do to make it easier to be a songwriter when you’ve just spent your day making lattes, doing tax returns, driving a cab, or stocking shelves. These things involve properly preparing your creative mind to go to work.
Here are some thoughts:
1. Give yourself a change of scenery at the end of a work shift or day at school.
There’s nothing wrong with sitting in front of the TV for a little downtime, but it has a way of turning into an all-evening thing, so set a timer. So when you get home, sit and rest, have some supper, read a little, etc. These things give your brain a chance to disconnect from what you’ve been doing all day.
2. Go for a walk or a run.
Get outside, get some fresh air, move your legs, and let your mind wander. Activity has a way of making you feel good, and your songwriting is going to benefit from that.
3. Start a writing session with a short, 15-minute “boredom session.”
In addition to the break you’ll be giving yourself in Tip #1 above, start your writing session by sitting quietly and allowing your brain to slow down for 15 minutes before you try to write. There’s scientific research to support this notion that boredom can be an important first step to being creative. If you want some ideas on how to “get properly bored”, read this article.
4. Cut Yourself Some Slack
If you have a very busy life, don’t feel that daily writing is something you absolutely must do. To me, writing daily means writing 5 out of 7 days per week. And even with that, you may find that certain days just won’t work for you. So committing to 3 or 4 days per week may be what’s going to make you feel suitably creative. Don’t pressure yourself; the pressure will turn into negativity.
5. Get Creative With Your Scheduling
It may not work for you to set aside the same hour every day to do your writing. That’s because most of us don’t just have jobs or schooling to consider. There’s also other potential responsibilities that can affect certain days, including child care, making family meals, going to meetings, and so on. So consider the possibility that you might split a longer writing session in two, write first thing in the morning, or write during a lunch break if that works for you.
The biggest problem you can give yourself is to think of songwriting as something you must do. There’s a lot to be said for “making yourself write” as an act of discipline, but don’t let that turn your songwriting activities into something that brings you down.
The most important activity that busy people can do to become creative is: nothing. Starting songwriting sessions with some downtime is probably going to make you feel most positive about what you do.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter