How Keeping A Strict Songwriting Schedule Can Dramatically Improve Your Music Career

You might not think of it this way, but making music is risky. What if what you come up with is bad? Or, almost worse, what if you love what you write but it doesn’t click with anyone else? Self-doubt is a major hurdle that keeps musicians from meeting their potential, but there’s another culprit out there that’s just as dangerous for songwriters but far less talked about: disorganization. Creating a songwriting schedule is a solid way to ensure you reach your goals by getting big things done incrementally and consistently.

The inspiration fallacy

Creating one song often takes weeks of experimentation and painstaking work. This is why it takes some artists months, years or, in extreme cases, decades to finish albums. But the truth is that musicians sometimes take more time than they really need because they believe they should and can only work when they feel inspired. This flawed line of thinking ends up causing major problems for songwriters.

Yes, making music should be something intensely rewarding on a personal level, but only working when you feel like it means you’re not going to be making music very often depending on your personality. Sticking to a writing schedule is a way to make sure you’re writing whether the well of inspiration is overflowing or dried up.

How a schedule can round out your songwriting practice

When it comes to writing, we all have unique preferences for what we naturally like to do the most. For some, writing lyrics is cathartic and natural, but for others it’s a chore. Creating and adhering to a strict writing schedule ensures that you’re working on everything you need to finish projects, not just the tasks you like doing. Writing, recording, producing, and releasing a full-length album is a gargantuan task filled with minor chores that no one likes doing––especially if you’re going it alone.

Scheduling helps get things done.

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For when life gets in the way

At some point in every musician’s career, life gets in the way of not only their overarching goals but their daily songwriting practice. Relationships, non-musical careers, errands––no matter your age and level of success in music, you’ll always have to contend with distractions butting in to your writing practice.

While nothing can remove these distractions completely, sticking to a schedule is one of the best ways to keep them at bay.

Get specific

The more specific you are with your songwriting scheduling, the better. Rather than committing to “writing” during scheduled times, you’ll get better results by defining exactly it is you need or want to do each session. For example, if you’re working on an album, breaking down your tasks for a writing session could look something like this:

  • Finish lyrics for “Song A”
  • Record vocal demo for “Song B”
  • Write creatively for (1) hour

A specific to-do list like this one addresses stuff that needs to get done and leaves room for unhindered writing at the same time.

Scheduling might not be the sexiest thing for a musician to do, but it can deliver huge results. If you’ve got a big project on the horizon that you have no clue how to tackle, getting started with a strict writing schedule is your best bet.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.

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Join the conversation
  • Adrian - March 22, 2019 reply

    Great advice and something I definitely need to get back to. When I scheduled dedicated time I definitely got more done. Thanks for the reminder and motivation.

  • David Lee Boulette - March 28, 2019 reply

    I am a struggling artist/song writer looking for idea and sugjestions

  • Lori Lynn - March 28, 2019 reply

    When I was a kid, I would often read articles about how Rush wrote their songs. Alex and Geddy in one room working on the music, and Neil in another room working on the lyrics. They would have to keep a schedule in order to finish their albums. They wrote some of the most prolific music ever. Neil also stated that he kept a notebook when an idea crossed his mind, he would write it down. I followed this practice, also inspiration is rarely convenient, my best ideas come just as I am about fall asleep. The best advice that I ever received was from a fellow artist, Brenda Khan, she said, make sure that you finish the songs that you start.

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