Dear Songwriter who doesn’t have time,
Posted by Francesca de Valence on Wednesday, May 22, 2019
You are the songwriter that I meet the most. I meet you at networking or professional development events or you ‘like’ my #wildestcreativedreams posts on social media and perhaps you share a little about how you really want be writing songs and playing your songs and recording and releasing your songs - but you don’t have the time. You start your comment with: “I wish I had the time to…” or “When I have the time to…”
That knowing and acknowledgement of the real limitation of time is frustrating and feels like a dead end. You know you can’t make more time magically appear. And you know you’re not improving in your songwriting, cause how can you when you’re not doing anything? And that half written album just sits there, unfinished.
So instead you dream about all the things you will do when you have more time - when the kids leave home, or when you can afford to work less hours or when you retire. Because then you’ll have all the time.
Or will you?
Let’s look at the facts. There are 168 hours per week and everyone has the same amount of hours, right? And in that time you need to fit in all your responsibilities. But you also need to fit into that time everything that you want for your life, like the things that you desire and dream about.
On your list of priorities, how high on your list are these desires? If you want your dreams to be a reality, they need to come somewhere very closely after family, health and making money. And if it’s not, ask yourself why it’s not.
I work with hundreds and hundreds of songwriters - in coaching, workshops, mentoring or my I Heart Songwriting Club group - and time is what people say is there biggest struggle. And here’s a big reality check, unless you carve out time for the life you want to live, you literally won’t be living it - ever!
But you can choose now to start getting on a path to living the life you want. And you can do that with just 1 hour per week to start. But that’s up to you to carve it out.
I started making time for my songwriting almost 5 years ago. I started a new habit in my week - this was the beginning of I Heart Songwriting Club. I would carve out 1 hour every single week and force myself to finish it, even if it was shit, just so I could move forward. And I had a group of other songwriters who were also doing the same, holding me accountable to that process, and I was holding them accountable.
But before that, before 5 years ago, I would struggle to write songs. And it was a big struggle. I’d hit a wall about 15 mins into the songwriting practice. The first 15 mins would be fine, yep that’s working, yep yep yep. Then suddenly, nup. That’s crap. Nope, that’s crap too. Then every idea was crap. And then I’d walk away.
I started using “time” as the reason I wasn’t writing. I was too busy in my teaching, I had a full social calendar, I even started a masters degree (!) and I had to do x, y, z. But really what I was doing was not carving time out for my songwriting practice, because I was avoiding or delaying, more to the point, writing the shitty songs I had to write through in order to write the great ones.
Since I started my new habit 5 years ago, I’ve written 245 finished songs in 1 hour and about 100 more songs. So about 350 songs in 5 years. Not bad for about 1 hour of work every week. Not only have I written these songs, and had the practice of working through ALL (and I mean ALL) the creative blocks that have come up, which in itself was a huge personal development journey and a growth I’m so grateful for, but these songs have also shaped my career. These are the best songs I’ve written as yet.
So dear songwriter who doesn’t have time, I know how much you dream about this and desire this, so I’m going to make it simple for you. I’m going to assign you one activity so that you can be getting on a path NOW to be living your wildest creative dreams - and write songs - a lot of songs, great songs, better songs. Songs that will shape your career and build momentum and artistic direction for you.
You’re going to start by carving out 1 hour in your week. Put that 1 hour in your calendar. Call it “Songwriting Practice”. It could be Tuesday at 5pm or Saturday at 10pm. It doesn’t matter when it is. Schedule it and set an alarm and a reminder. Treat it like you would a hair appointment, a doctor’s appointment, a meeting. It’s non-negotiable. You will be there, you will show up and nothing else goes in that time. So find a baby-sitter and find a way to make it happen.
And when that time arrives, you show up and do the work. And I will tell you, that if you show up and do the work, it will get done. And I’m also going to tell you, if you don’t do the work, nothing will happen.
So do the work. Struggle. But know it’s only 1 hour you have to struggle for and then you have 167 hours in your week to do everything else. Then do it again next week. And then again. And before too long you’ll have 10 new songs. Then 20, then 50…
For added accountability, challenges and community, I highly recommend I Heart Songwriting Club. A totally online songwriting club. It’s the club I formed for me and my friends so that we would become the songwriters we dreamt of being - which we are living.
Sam Buckingham was the 5th songwriter to ever join the club, almost 5 years ago. Now she says:
“Writing with I Heart Songwriting Club has become one of the most important parts of my creative practice. It pushes me to set aside dedicated weekly time to developing my craft, and the feedback and community support makes the process so much less isolating.
Sharing my songs and hearing my groups submissions each week inspires me to expand my creativity and express myself more fully through song. The personal and career implications for this are huge - I feel like I’m finally beginning to reach my true potential as an artist.”
Join I Heart Songwriting Club Now