After exposing my great plans for taking over the world by becoming a writing machine, life did what it does best, and TOTALLY THREW OFF MY GROOVE! I went from 2 or 3 weeks of a good writing rhythm where I wrote 5 or 6 song drafts. Then I, arrogantly shared my success story only to turn around and have a week like this one. Where I write hardly anything.
Schedule changes are killers! And you know what else is a killer? Not getting enough sleep because you want to stay up and watch one more episode of Kora! Don’t do that.
I’m a full time musician so the schedule changes really shouldn’t phase me at this point… sadly, they do. If my schedule gets thrown off, I feel helpless to write a single thing worth hearing. Mostly because my brain is so focused on what’s going to happen next. The beauty of sticking to a writing schedule is you don’t need to think about what’s going to happen next. The latter excuse is just foolishness.
What I have learned though, is that when these things happen, I’m tempted to guilt trip myself into a routine again. Don’t do this either. Self-deprecation is NEVER productive. If anything it only hinders my writing further.
When you have a week like this, give yourself some grace, go to bed on time and get back up tomorrow and start over. It’s always okay to start over.
This week I’ve felt an extra gust of wind inflate my sails.
I was taught that writers should make time to write everyday. I believed this in theory, but was never able to bring myself to the point where I could write EVERY DAY. And I’m still not there.
I have however, begun to solidify a morning routine creating some writing time every weekday. In the past few weeks I’ve written a good 6 or 7 new songs and have several ideas and song starts in the archives- which is saying A LOT for me! I was always the writer who waited for inspiration.
Thanks to my husband, who writes fantasy novels, and works RELIGIOUSLY everyday on his book, I’ve seen what benefit the practice of writing everyday can do. So I’ve established (give or take) a system of writing that helps me crank out the tunes!
This is my system so far- in case you’re looking for a way to get yourself writing regularly.
*I write in the morning because I have a hard time switching gears once I get into “business mode”. Business mode is for writing/answering emails, booking shows, updating the calendar on the website, writing blogs, researching new venues etc…
*I keep a schedule (always been a struggle for me, but I usually function much better this way). James (hubby) and I wake up at 6am (ideally) and go for a walk/jog (we haven’t committed to jogging yet). We get back about 6:30am. I make fresh juice in my juicer and eat breakfast, hopefully done eating by 7-7:30am. Then I do my daily Bible Study from around 7:30-8am to 10am (this varies- sometimes I have a lot of journaling I need to do so it might take a little longer). I like to use this quiet, introspective, prayerful time as a springboard into my writing. My goal is to have a song draft finished or well on it’s way by 11:30-12pm. From Noon on, my day to day schedule varies a lot. But on the nights when I’m not playing a show, I try to be in bed by 10pm to read and falling asleep by 11pm (again this is an ideal situation, it doesn’t happen this seamlessly every day, but this is the basic idea).
*Most people want to know “What comes first? The lyrics or the music?” The answer is, both and either. Sometimes I sit down and just come up with a chord progression that is unique and interesting, and put a hook to it (a catchy melody the song will be based on). Sometimes I have a lyrical idea hit me, or a concept I’d like to work on. And sometimes I am blessed with a magical moment of serendipity when it all comes together at the same time. But, serendipity is incredibly unreliable.
*I’ve found that it really helps me to use the weekend as my time to write lyrical drafts of songs (even on the weekends when I’m away, even though that’s harder to do). To just jot down any ideas as random or absurd as they can be, just get them on paper and work with them a bit (a good activity for a long car ride). This way I’ll usually come up with a couple of drafts of lyrics so that on the weekdays, all I need to do is take a draft and come up with a chord progression and melody. This seems to be a nice way to streamline the whole writing process and puts less daily pressure on me.
That’s it! I hope this helps you set up your own writing process! It takes a bit of time, and your process doesn’t need to be the same as mine. Maybe you write better at night? Maybe your day job won’t allow you to write the same time everyday? Whatever your schedule, finding time to write regularly is key. A friend of mine once told me, “you don’t have to be the most brilliant writer there is, you just have to be prolific.”