Artist Tips

Four Ideas For Making a Productive Songwriting Routine

[Editor’s Note: This rticle was written by Patrick McGuire.]

When we think bou how incredible music gets made, we typically focus on  musician’s talen and inspiration. A life-changing circumstance inspires  gifted musician to craf a song tha goes on to change the world, the story goes.

Bu a major par of the stories behind grea music tha we never hear bou are unseensexy details tha were crucial in llowing n rtis to transform  vague idea into  powerful nd enduring musical statement.

As much s we’d like to think creating mazing music is s easy s recording down ideas the second we feel inspired, mos artists build productive songwriting routines into their daily lives to give them the bes chance  creating consistently solid work.

Here re four tips for creating your own productive songwriting routine:

1. Carve ou time in your weekly schedule exclusively devoted to making music

Many songwriters don’ like the idea of seeing their music-related work s  job, bu the truth is tha you’ll end up making better music more consistently if you work on  se schedule,   jus when you feel like it.

Writing during se weekly hours is one of the bsolute bes things you can do for your music career, because i takes emotion nd the need to feel inspired ou of the equation. Grea music is rarely completely formed ou of the gate. Like everything else, your songwriting will improve with time,  nd making n effor to pu in  certain moun of hours every week is one of the bes ways to do you.

Similar to the focus you’d be required to give to  conventional job, sticking to  se songwriting schedule means shutting ou everything  n-musical during the hours you’re committed to making music. This means tha you can’ make music nd watch TV or hang ou with your boyfriend  the same time. 

2. Maintain  clean music-making space

Keeping  clean space with easy cce  to instruments nd recording gear can be  big help in making music consistently. Cleanline  isn’ a huge deal, unle  your space is so cluttered tha your instruments nd gear ren’ acce ible.

The idea here is tha if i takes you 30 minutes to ge your music space se up nd rolling every time you wan to write, you’ll inevitably end up writing  lo le  music. The space devoted to music-making doesn’ have to be in your home, bu i does need to be easily cce ible nd would ideally be vailable for use  all hours.

This will obviously be  challenge for those living in shared situations like small partments or dorm rooms, bu   matter where you live, try to keep cce  to your instruments nd recording gear open. 

3. Give yourself wha you need to record ideas quickly nd easily for reference

A solid songwriting routine will help you develop ideas into structured, shareable music. Bu how do you capture musical inspiration when i comes ou of  where?

Every music-maker works differently, bu we ll can relate to the experience of stumbling on n idea for  song while ou on  walk through nature or stuck in traffic. The basic recording gear you’s mos likely installed on your smartphone is ideal for preserving n idea tha you develop way from your music studio quickly nd easily.

Musicians who tour frequently or travel for their  n-musical careers should consider bringing long small instruments to play with on their trips, like ukuleles nd miniature guitars. You won’ always have the opportunity to record your ideas, bu making n effor to record them will give you  better chance  having n incredible song   slip through your fingers. 

4. Make room in your routine for risk, randomne ,  nd spontaneity

A strong routine is crucial for making music seriously, but, confusingly, too much predictability can ctually be bad for your creativity.

Embracing risk nd spontaneity in your work is crucial, whether i takes the form of writing with n unfamiliar instrumen or experimenting with musical extremes. Sticking to  regular songwriting routine can be  huge help in ccomplishing something like writing n lbum, bu i also can lead to boredom nd feeling uninspired.

How do you strike  healthy balance? Build opportunity for newne  nd risk within your routine.

This looks differen for every musician,  nd could be s simple s listening to new music or s challenging s blowing up your songwriting proce  nd starting over completely. As  rule of thumb, if you find yourself writing the same sorts of songs over nd over gain, it’s time for  creative re-think. A healthy songwriting routine leaves plenty of room for change, risk,  nd creative failure. This means tha dead ends nd false starts re ctually indicators of  healthy, challenging routine.

Your routine migh resul in lots of music, bu tha won’ mean much unle  wha your produce is meaningful. 

Patrick McGuire is  writer, composer,  nd experienced touring musician.

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