Whether you’re completely new to songwriting or have been making music for years, working in a space that’s conducive for creativity is essential if you’re taking your craft seriously. But musicians often have a bad reputation for not taking care of themselves, and sometimes this neglect can seep its way into the songwriting process and stifle the atmosphere that surrounds the unique way we write songs. Are you one of those people with the uncanny ability to work creatively in any space? Well, that’s awesome, but the rest of us will have to invest thought and energy into creating a comfortable space to make music in.
The importance of knowing yourself
If you want to create a positive atmosphere to make music in, you’ll have to take some time to think about your own positive and negative traits not only as a songwriter but as a person. Are you easily distracted? Then producing music with headphones and a midi controller at your kitchen table probably isn’t going to be a good way to make music day after day.
As a general rule, whether you’re writing lyrics or building a chord progression on the piano, distractions pose the serious threat of hindering your progress as a songwriter. Some musicians are able to work efficiently in a space in their home just fine, but others will hugely benefit from working in a separate studio space and away from the distractions and obligations of home.
Obviously, some of you reading this right now can barely afford your share of the rent and won’t be able to cough up extra cash to rent studio space every month, but everyone will benefit from being realistic about their needs as music-makers and adjusting accordingly.
Whether you’re writing music in a room in your home or a dingy music studio downtown, it’s important that you make the space you’re working in as comfortable as possible.
Because a positive songwriting atmosphere should be free from distractions. Dog hair, construction noise, and bad lighting are just a few examples of things that might make you feel uncomfortable or distracted when you sit down and try to make music.
You might find songwriting to be fun and rewarding, and that’s great, but it’s still hard work, and your efforts will probably be half-assed and sporadic until you view it as such.
In addition to removing distractions, making your songwriting space as comfortable as possible will help you feel like it’s a place you’ll actually want to work in. And when your songwriting work gets tough and you find yourself in a rut, you’ll be happy the space you’ve created is a welcoming one.
Meaningful songwriting happens when we create the time and space in our lives for ideas to get developed, and having a reliable place that you’re comfortable making music in will ultimately help you make better music.
No matter what space you’re working in, make sure you invest some money into the tools you’re working with as a songwriter. Fill your space with not only the tools you need to make music, but also with anything that inspires you and motivates you as a creative person.
If you’re serious about songwriting, viewing your craft in the context of work that you return to day after day for years or even decades will help you recognize the need for a songwriting space you can rely on.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.