Musicians and artists are asked to do a lot these days. You’re expected to book yourself, market, raise money for albums, manage social media and a million and one small things. And oh yeah, write the best freaking songs you can possibly write. Here are some techniques I use to manage my time so I can stay creative:
10. Schedule it.
Just like sex, nobody wants to schedule creativity. It takes away all the spontaneity, which artists cling to like a child to a Christmas puppy. Professional musicians know that giving up a bit of on-the-spot inspiration is well worth it for consistent writing. You wouldn’t not play a show because you weren’t “feeling it” at the moment. Treat your creativity the same way.
9. Adapt your schedule to your muse.
Now that you’ve started scheduling yourself, be sensitive to the muses (you don’t want to offend them, after all). If you write best at night, schedule your writing at night. Don’t try to force something that goes against who you are creatively and biologically.
8. Create a workspace.
Find a space somewhere that is only for creating music. I’ve had friends who have a “writing closet” that they lock themselves in for an hour a day. Size and location doesn’t matter as much as having a dedicated space where you stay focused.
7. Keep things the same.
Once you build your space, don’t change it. You want to keep your focus on the music, not crawling around with a flashlight under your desk looking for pencils (not that this has ever happened to me. . . ).
6. Listen to new music regularly.
Songwriters often make the mistake that their fans do: they stop listening to new music after college. This is one of the cardinal sins of creativity. To create fresh work, you have to hear fresh work. In an age of free streaming on Spotify, it’s never been easier to keep up with great new tunes.
If you’re a lyricist, it’s essential to read as much as you can. Without an intimate working knowledge of the english language, you’ll find it challenging to turn that hit line. Poetry is important, too. I recommend reading T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and any of the post-modern poets.
Practicing your instrument and your singing will give you fresh musical ideas to explore in your songwriting. Take a few lessons, and you might end up writing in a whole new direction.
Find other talented musicians and songwriters to work together with for new ideas. Some of my best work has been when I’ve been challenged by creative minds that were my superior.
There’s no substitute for getting up in front of an audience and sharing your work. If you can’t perform in front of an audience (I’m talking to my mix engineer friends), bring in friends that will be honest with you, and have them listen.
1. Have a life outside music.
This is probably the biggest key of all- if you don’t have any experiences outside of the field of music, you’ll probably not be able to relate to people outside the business. Go for walks. Fall in love. You might just learn something you could turn into the next hit single.