5 tips to stay motivated as a songwriter today

Jack Francis
Jack Francis

Jack Francis: “We must be ready to grab it, refine it, turn it into something coherent and make it truthful.”

Self-reflexive folk artist Jack Francis shares five lessons on what it takes to follow your dreams in the modern world

It’s no secret that staying motivated as an artist and songwriter in today’s industry is a job within itself. Keeping creatively steadfast whilst establishing ourselves amongst the hordes of desperate hopefuls can leave us feeling mentally drained. I’ve been writing songs for more than 15 years; I also perform them as an artist to audiences all over the UK and Europe and have been doing so for the last 9 years. Luckily for you, throughout this time I’ve succeeded, failed, self-loathed and self-motivated myself as a struggling artist and songwriter so you don’t have to!

10 tips for songwriting after an extended break

1. WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

It becomes easier to galvanize ourselves if we can treat writing as a kind of personal therapy. We can use songs to convey feelings, frustrations, or insecurities that we may struggle to communicate in our normal lives. If we’re going through something difficult, it can be an incredibly cathartic way to get the demons out and explore these feelings.

Writing can even help us to understand them better by pulling the words and emotions from our subconscious, perhaps even revealing truths that we hadn’t seen before. So however you’re feeling, use it!

Jack Francis

Jack Francis: “The time we spend ‘creating content’ could be spent re-writing that verse or refining that chorus.”

2. CONTROL YOUR USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Whilst it is – unfortunately – a big part of being a musician today, it won’t be the most important thing forever. If we stare into the algorithmic wasteland long enough, we will naturally use it to compare ourselves to others. This can only lead to de-motivation and a crisis of confidence.

The time we spend ‘creating content’ (yuck!) could be spent re-writing that verse or refining that chorus. We could even try ingesting other forms of actual art rather than watching videos of people miming their own lyrics into a phone! It’s a ludicrous landscape. So yes, we should use it to our advantage and do what we have to do, but we also need to do our very best to not let it divert our focus from what is actually important – writing songs!

3. FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Surrounding ourselves socially with other songwriters can be a constant source of inspiration. A healthy competitiveness can lead to some of our greatest work. It can help establish strong bonds, giving us trusted voices to turn to for advice if we start to feel the creative well running a little dry.

Playing as many shows/writers’ circles as possible at the beginning of our careers will help us to find these friends and collaborators. People who are drawn to what we do, see us for who we are and appreciate the art we’re making in its rawest form.

The importance of this cannot be underestimated. These people pick us up when we’re feeling de-motivated and inspire us to keep going. I probably wouldn’t still be doing this if it wasn’t for a handful of other artists, writers and friends who’ve helped and inspired me enormously along the way. I also hope that I have been that motivational voice for others in return.

Jack Francis

Jack Francis: “We can use songs to convey feelings, frustrations, or insecurities that we may struggle to communicate in our normal lives.”

4. THE DISCIPLINE

Some artists only write when the mood takes them – I would agree that the best songs we ever write will probably come through a stream of consciousness, seemingly appearing out of the blue with very little effort. However, if we want to be prolific songwriters then we need to write all kinds of songs – and some of them take work.

Mike Batt at French House Party 2024

I find that (particularly in times where we aren’t feeling creative) keeping the discipline of sitting down for at least a couple of hours a day without distraction, playing our chosen instrument, refining ideas and maybe re-working a lyric or two can keep the brain working. It keeps us on our toes for when something really great hits.

If we aren’t ready and haven’t been working that part of our mind, the process of reaching out and harnessing the idea becomes more difficult. We must be ready to grab it, refine it, turn it into something coherent and make it truthful. Keeping up with the discipline allows us to stay sharp and at the peak of our abilities.

5. TIME TO LIVE

The world we operate within is driven by content and algorithms. We’re told we need to make more and make it now, otherwise we become irrelevant. It’s so important from time to time that we allow ourselves some space. To live our lives, stop, take a breath, and give ourselves time to digest the world around us.

If we never have a break from striving towards the next great song, then we will eventually burn out; I’ve been there and it’s very unpleasant. When you’re struggling to forge a career in music then you naturally put immense pressure on yourself. So, at times we need to remember to take time to live, time to focus and time to get it right.

Failure, the new single by Jack Francis is out now and his album Early Retirement will follow on 22 March. Jack is currently playing shows across the UK and Ireland. You can find details of the dates via his website jackfrancissongs.com




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