I’m always looking for new creative solutions to common songwriting problems for my clients. Sometimes this takes me pretty far outside my own experience and beyond songwriting resources to explore how other creative types deal with their particular road blocks.
One of my go-tos over the years has been Twyla Tharp, the famous American dancer and choreographer. Her book “The Creative Habit” is full of some useful info that easily translates for songwriters and artists.
Lose Track Of Time
One of hers that I adopted early on was choosing a set amount of time, maybe a week and picking one possible distraction in your environment, removing it and seeing how it effects your creativity. She chose clocks. Seems like a small concession but I was amazed how many times I relied on some kind of clock to measure how long I’d been at it when it was way more effective to “lose myself”.
The Help Hurt List
One of my favorites and, although I attribute it to her, I may have picked it up somewhere else is a Help/Hurt list. Here’s how it works: take a large piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. Now a horizontal line at the top. Now you have two columns. Top left write the word “Hurt”, top right, “Help”.
At some point in your writing time think about what’s working well, what’s making it a good songwriting day. Take a second and enter those on the “Help” side. It can be as simple as getting up extra early, before the distractions of the day. One of mine was not stopping to eat. Do the same thing for things that seem to slow you down or de-rail you. Getting on the internet is one of mine. Others are running errands, interrupting a session for a call. Enter these on the “Hurt “side. I’m sure you can find a bunch of helps and hurts of your own to fill the page over time.
The beauty of the idea is that you can eventually pick out the things that contributed to a good writing day as well as the things that got in the way.
Once it’s easier to see them it gets easier to recreate the good ones and ditch the bad ones. Ups your chances for success next time.
There are so many great songwriting related books out there but I’d also encourage you to check out the things other types of artists practice to be the best they can be on a consistent basis.