Originally published on SongwritingandMusicBusiness.com November 3, 2014 – Published by Hillbilly Culture LLC | Image links to Songpreneurs Amazon Affiliate Page.
Most of the battle of being a songwriter is thinking like one. Even when you’re working a day job, dreaming of being a professional songwriter one day, it’s important to start getting your mind set in the right place.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few good things to do when you’re planning your week as a songwriter:
1. Make Time To Write
The biggest difference between a professional songwriter and a hobbyist is the time spent actually writing songs. It’s not about getting cuts, or networking, or playing your songs at writers’ nights – not at first.
Writers ask me what they need to do to get some action with their songwriting, and when I ask them how much time they spend actually writing songs, they usually start making excuses about how busy they are and how little time they have to write.
Obviously, if you’re working a day job, you’re not going to have all day to write songs. But if you don’t have at least 30 minutes every day to work on your song writing, how can you ever expect to get better?
Especially if your goal is to get some cuts, you have to be realistic when you’re planning your week and set aside time every day for writing.
If you really want to start making progress, you’ll schedule an hour or more every day for your writing.
So you have to get up earlier? So you have to skip the writer’s night or the TV time? If you really want to make progress with your songwriting, that’s exactly what you’ll do.
If you just want to play at being a songwriter, by all means… make excuses for not writing. At least it will be an exercise in creative thinking – but you’re only fooling yourself.
2. Make Time To Organize
While you’re planning your writing time (on paper in your schedule book), you should try to carve out another hour for two during the week for putting your song catalog in order.
That will help you make sure your song catalog is organized just like it would be if you were writing for a good publisher.
You can use the song catalog template provided as an example and modify it to fit your needs.
The important thing here is that as a self-published songwriter, it’s your job to keep up with all your publishing info. Even if you’re signed to a publisher, you still have to keep up with all that info yourself and provide it to your publisher, so go ahead and get into the habit now. It will save you a lot of work later if you keep up with your songs as you write them.
Just 10 minutes a day can make all the difference with your organization.
3. Make Time To Find Ideas
You’ll also want to plan time to read a book or watch movies with the idea of finding song ideas to put in your hook book.
If you’re like me, you must exercise at least every other day to keep up enough energy to get everything done. Why not kill two birds with one stone and read or watch DVDs while you’re working out?
Keep a notebook or small recorder with you when you’re running around in your car, or when you’re watching TV. Sometimes a snippet of conversation will spark a song idea, or you’ll be pondering something that will lead to a hook or melody line.
My dad always said you have to “balance the intake with the output.” It’s especially true for a new writer, for whom the idea for the song is the best currency for getting writing appointments with more experienced writers.
Think of it this way, if you’re a pro writer in Nashville, you’re probably writing at least once a day, and usually twice or three times. It’s hard to keep up with the volume of ideas needed to always write a great song.
If you have a couple of great ideas, that’s better than anything for getting an appointment with a hit songwriter. They’ll be a lot more willing to make time for you in their busy schedules if you have something to bring to the table idea wise.
Else you’ll be like a new writer Dean Dillon lamented who, “didn’t even have a pencil.”
You didn’t think being a songwriter was easy did you? It takes hard work and dedication just like anything else you want to do well. The more time you devote to it, the faster you’ll make progress toward your goals.
How do you find time for everything you need to do as a songwriter? Tell us about it in the comments below.