Guitar and Notepad - Songwriting schedule

A Deadline Is a Powerful Writer’s Block Antidote

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If you don’t have a specific day when the song you’re writing needs to be completed, you may not have a good reason for that song to be finished at all.

Sometimes you’re own desire to get something written isn’t enough to get the job done. It often takes more than desire: British author Mavis Cheek has been quoted as saying “Authors with a mortgage never get writer’s block.”

The mortgage analogy is a good example of what it really takes to get something done in the world of the creative arts: a tangible deadline. A scheduled mortgage payment will often do it.

And sometimes, the fact that you’re collaborating with another person or group on a larger project — like writing a ballet, supplying a film score, or taking part in an upcoming show — will help you focus your attention and get the job done.

But again… it’s a deadline.

Because most of us are still battling with the realities of the pandemic, we find ourselves in the situation where we’re writing for some unspecified performance sometime in the future. And without a date or an event, it’s hard — really hard — to get motivated to write.

Right now, I have two choral arrangement projects I’m working on, with no exact date for when they’d be performed. So I know firsthand how difficult it is to stay focused and get the tunes finished.

So in the absence of real deadlines, can I recommend this: create your own hard-and-fast deadline.

Creating Your Own Deadline

I find this works best if you have several songs that you’re working on: take a look at your calendar, and find a day when you want those several songs to be finished. Now, put it in the calendar that on that date you’re going to record all of them.

As the appointed day approaches, get set up to make demos of all of the songs in your list. Make the need for completion as real as possible.

If you find that setting up a recording day isn’t feeling real enough, then try this: plan a short house concert for your family and close friends. Send out invitations — a great way to make it real.

By doing this, you’ve created a real deadline, so the need to finish your songs is no longer an imaginary requirement: you’ve got a real date.

If, in the process of doing this, you find yourself staring at a blank sheet, not knowing what to write, give this article a read — it will help you through the tough days: 5 Tips for Dealing With Writer’s Block.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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