Stuck in a creative rut so far this year? James Linderman has some ideas to help you get out of it
As you’re reading Songwriting magazine, it’s fair to assume you’re either someone who writes songs, or someone who’d like to start. And if you’re a songwriter going into 2016 with a renewed sense of purpose and energy, then I wish you all the success in the world… go get ’em! If, however, you have begun 2016 with some extra baggage – a little trepidation, mixed with some good old-fashioned uncertainty, a pinch of pure dread and just a splash of undistilled fear and shot of apathy – that is NOT the recipe for having a great 2016!
Thankfully, there are millions of little things that could make 2016 better for you and me as creative people. But even I don’t want you reading this post all day, so let’s drop it down to the top three things that will help us get it going on…
1. Don’t assume you’re going to fail!
Unless you own a fully licensed and recently fine-tuned crystal ball, you don’t know how this year’s songs will fare on the open market. You don’t even know what you’re going to write yet. So suspend your pre-judgement and enter this year like you entered your first year of songwriting: full of hopes and dreams that no one but a certified crystal ball-ologist can say are not entirely achievable.
2. Put your head down and get to work
There’s an old saying that “hard work never hurt anyone”. That’s actually not true: more people have probably died of hard work and hard work-related other stuff than have died of… er… other stuff that’s not hard work-related. Okay, I don’t have the statistical data to support that claim, but I’m pretty sure it’s true nevertheless. That said, I can also tell you that those who move forward are working hard and not all of them die from it! They usually love their work, too, so it doesn’t look like work when they do it. But work it is, so do as much or more of it than anyone else you see doing this work. And collaborate and create partnerships with other hard-workers who admire and love what you bring to the table.
3. Have fun with your songwriting
Have fun writing, and have fun showing and promoting that work. Artists who work a lot with other artists on fun projects get to work on more and better projects. People who are working hard at this, all the time, have less time for other fun and so making this pursuit fun is a way to have a career and a life at the same time. And if you’re not having fun doing this, then go do something else you love – life is short and you are making your short life less fun.
All of these ideas are, of course, far, far easier to say than they are to do. But they’re worth bearing in mind all the same. I hope you can find some use for these ideas, and make today a great day full of that hope, hard work and fun that makes songwriting a brilliant part of our lives.
Words: James Linderman
James Linderman teaches guitar, bass and piano to students worldwide via Skype and FaceTime from his studio in Canada. He’s also an academic ambassador to Berklee College of Music and the author of the new book The Harmonic Functions Template Workbook, which is part one of a four-part series titled The Compositional Abstraction Workbook Series. It has taken him 10 years to make these four books easier to understand than the titles make them sound! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or find him at jameslinderman.com