Time Management 101 for Songwriters

By Connor McCoy, Spire Contributor | October 2, 2018

Time Management for Songwriters 101

We’ve all been there: life gets busy, work gets out late, your friends are all going out on the weekend, and you haven’t found any time for writing songs. It’s difficult to make room for creativity when it feels like there’s not enough time in the day to do all of the things you need to do.

Luckily, there are ways you can improve the output of your songwriting by spending small amounts of time throughout your day to stay in the creative mindset. By training your brain to be on the lookout for certain ideas or “song seeds,” you can grow your list of material wherever you are, so you can spend less time at home thinking of new ideas and more time finishing ones you already have.

Plant song seeds

Many artists see themselves as perfectionists: people who will go any distance to make sure that their creation is flawless. This can be a blessing when it comes to making complex and beautiful art, but to many artists, it’s a double-edged sword.

Songwriting, like any other skill, becomes more natural the more you do it. You’ll notice that professional songwriters always talk about the sheer volume of songs they have under their belt, and it makes sense: they didn’t get to where they are today by hesitating and slowly hacking away at one single song or idea that doesn’t come naturally.

The more songs you write, finish, and perform, the better you’ll be at being able to tell at first glance whether an idea for a song is good or not.

Another tactic you can add to your songwriting arsenal is the ability to find “song seeds” throughout your daily life. Song seeds are small ideas or phrases that you can quickly write down (or even record) so you don’t have to come up with ideas later on at home, where you set aside your songwriting time.

By turning off the radio in your car, you can create more quiet time to brew up potential ideas or phrases. Having a dedicated notebook or journal in your backpack for writing down words and lyrics can motivate you to record.

Here’s an article to help you spark ideas for writing a new song.

Set limitations

It can be intimidating when first beginning to write a new song, and you can spend hours trying out different chords or lyrics. The easiest way to train yourself to write songs faster is to time yourself. Set a timer for one hour, and make a simple goal—whether it be to finish one verse and chorus, or to finish a whole song.

You’ll start to become more conscientious of how long an hour is, and you’ll push yourself to filter through lyrics, chords, and ideas much faster than before. You might not achieve your complete goal at first, but by giving yourself a small deadline, you’ll go with your instinct more often, and end up writing more (and better, more refined) lyrics.

Change it up

Using the same techniques can get old after a while, and once you’re able to write down lyrics that you enjoy in a relatively quick fashion, you can begin to introduce different prompts and inspirations. Simply listening to the radio, watching the news, or reading a magazine can give you interesting ideas or perspectives on topics that you can write about.

If you’ve been writing a song on one instrument, like the guitar, try switching instruments to the piano and see what you come up with‚ even if you aren’t exactly proficient. Try grabbing a percussion instrument, like a tambourine or shaker, and writing lyrics from just a rhythmic perspective can help you progress a song forward or come up with different ideas!