The Dress Up Hack

In 2018, I hit a songwriting slump. I had trouble finishing work and felt the songs I actually completed were mediocre.

The long-term solution, I would later realize, was a long rest. I had been writing nonstop for six years. Plus, our family was growing. With the added parenting demands, it was unrealistic to sustain the production speed to which my publisher had grown accustomed.

Rather than risking future contracts, I started looking for quick fixes—anything to up my performance. (No, not drugs!)

I remembered how, in high school, the varsity hockey and basketball teams would dress up on the day of a game. It was a sign of respect for their sport and gave the school a good impression when teams traveled. It also acted as free marketing. People were reminded to attend the game when they saw players in formal attire.

But there was another reason, one that was relevant to my current circumstances: dressing up improved the players’ performance. It was psychological. Perhaps not surprisingly, research shows that when we feel good about our appearance, it boosts our confidence and motivation. We also feel more capable in our ability to achieve our goals.

Why not try it for songwriting?

So that’s what I did. Every morning, I put on a collared shirt and tucked it in. I picked out a tie from my closet, spend 87 tries tying it, combed my hair, and walked out to my backyard studio.

Usually, it was just me in there—no one to impress but myself. But, oh, dear reader, impress myself I did. My mind felt sharper. I had more clarity. I produced way more songs, and I also won a Grammy. Well, no, I didn’t win a Grammy, but you get the point.

Thankfully, I’m not in the same spot I was back then creatively. It’s been a while since I dressed up to write songs.

But maybe this finds you in a creative slump like I was. Maybe it’s been a while since you finished a song or felt good about the work you’ve been producing.

Let’s be honest, songwriting is hard enough when you’re NOT in a slump. When you are in one, it can feel impossible. If you’re like me, you’ll try just about anything to make it a little easier.

Try dressing up. It might just be the proverbial cables you’ve been needing to jumpstart your battery.