How to Be a More Productive Songwriter

Distraction is Enemy Number One. Use airplane mode as your default. Tell people to call if it’s urgent. 

Resistance is Enemy Number Two. So make songwriting convenient. Keep your guitar, pen, and paper close to a place you visit regularly (e.g., couch in the living room, next to your bed, beside your office chair). 

Do NOT wait for inspiration. Instead, turn songwriting into a daily habit. How? Link it to a daily cue (e.g., brushing your teeth, bringing in the mail, loading the dishwasher.)

When you DO get inspired, have a system for capturing ideas quickly. For example, I use my iPhone and Siri. I say, “Hey Siri, start a new note titled [name of title or thought I had].” If it’s a melody I don’t want to forget, I quickly put it in my Voice Memos app. 

It’s not enough to capture ideas, you have to review them at at later date. Ideally, weekly. Again, make this a habit by linking it to a WEEKLY cue (e.g., whenever you bring out the garbage, after church on Sunday). The idea needs to surprise and delight you again. Don’t work on ideas that don’t surprise and delight you twice. 

Dedicate a time frame of at least 5 minutes but no more than 30 minutes per day to chip away at your creative process. Why no more than 30 minutes? Leave yourself wanting more. You’re in this for the long haul, right? Not just because you feel like it today. However, it’s your life, if you want to write for another three hours because you have the time, go right ahead! But don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s not sustainable.

Have one person to whom you are accountable. Specify your commitments and what you’d like them to do if they don’t hear from you. Your commitment should be very specific and the stakes high to really be annoying if you don’t deliver on your commitment.  

Do any one of the above and you’ll be more productive. Do them all and you’ll be unstoppable.