I’ve always felt that the first step to keeping your songwriting output from fizzling is to have a well organized, tidy workspace. I don’t want to present myself as the model for this: I try, but like most people, my workspace can get a bit out of control.
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When my workspace is cluttered and disorganized, I always experience a kind of inspiration when I finally get things back in a tidy state. I do know people who say that they work best in a cluttered room, and I’ll take them at their word — it’s not an easy thing for which to find scientific research!
And anyway, I’m not talking just about the clutter and/or mess in your room — I’m talking about making sure that your space is organized in a way that puts everything you need within your grasp. If you’ve got a great songwriting idea, but your guitar is in some other room, your pencils and/or digital recorder (smartphone) is under papers somewhere, that idea can fizzle out while you’re trying to find the things you need.
Everyone’s workspace is going to look different; there’s no one right way. That’s because everyone’s method of working is different. Some still work “old school”, with pencil and paper and a rhyming dictionary at the ready. Others work completely electronically, on a tablet, smartphone or desktop computer. And then others use a combination of methods, partly on computer, partly working things out with a guitar or keyboard, jotting ideas down, then turning back to the computer to enter those ideas. (This describes my typical process.)
So since all workspaces will necessarily look different depending on how you like to work, here are three thoughts to take into consideration:
- Do you have a room dedicated to songwriting/musical activities? Having that room is an important part of making songwriting feel like a serious activity, not just something you do on a whim.
- Is your workspace free from clutter? Clutter can be defined as items that are not where they should ideally be, and aren’t contributors to your songwriting process: the stack of books and papers, old computer cables that used to do something, things on the floor that should be somewhere else.
- Is everything you typically use for songwriting within easy reach? By easy reach, I mean that you should be able to put your hands on what you need within 2-3 seconds.
How you organize your space is really up to you. How you know you’ve done a good job is that you’re never having to stop your creative process to find the things you need.
And if you’re the kind of person whose attention is easily distracted, you might consider putting your phone on silent or in airplane mode for the hour or so that you’ve designated to be your songwriting time.
If you really feel that you’re not bothered by clutter, can I suggest that you give organizing and de-cluttering your room a try anyway? If, once you’ve got things well organized and you feel that it hasn’t been helpful, then at least you’ve tried.
But I think you’re going to find a tidy room to be inspiring and beneficial to your songwriting process.
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