[Songwriting Tips] Finding Time to Write
By Sara Light
Sara and her husband Danny have been contributing articles on songwriting for a few years on our blog. In this latest edition, Sara talks about taking the time to write songs - which many songwriters today can certainly relate to her.
“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.” — Bernard Berenson, Sunset and Twilight, from the Diaries of 1947-1958
I am finding that the older I get, the more difficult it is to feel unencumbered. I do not have the same sense I did in my 20’s and 30’s of having the time or energy to follow my muse, explore my own interests, or even rest my mind. The tasks that I commit to now, even the ones I voluntarily choose, come with a sense of heaviness; How will I fit that in to my schedule? What do I prioritize today? If I do THIS, it’ll take away from THAT.
I’m beginning 2018 pretty well. I’m back to starting most days with a yoga video and green tea BEFORE I check my schedule, answer my emails and walk my dog. I’m even on a streak with my Head space meditation app and I’m finally able to turn off my brain at night and get some deep sleep. And, check this out, I’m writing a blog entry (an activity that I enjoy, but usually fits into the “how will I fit that into my schedule today?” category).
Some of the lessons I find that are working for me this year that I haven’t tried in the past are:
- Doing a little bit consistently can be as satisfying as going “all in”. This is a good one for songwriters. If you only have a couple of minutes to work on a song today, do that. Don’t wait until you have half a day to devote to writing a whole new song. If you think one new title today call that your day’s work and let yourself feel accomplished.
- Good is good enough. Perfection isn’t a mandatory requirement. Just get the job done the best you can in the time you have and move on. Don’t berate yourself for not doing something exactly the way you imagined. This frees up a lot of time.
- Deadlines are often flexible. I have been noticing that a lot of the people around me also feel crunched for time. Because of that, they often are more than happy to move around appointments and extend deadlines. They, too, have a million other things they can fit into that slot. Flexibility reduces stress.
- Take a break from social media. Yikes, lately, I have been seeing so many articles about the addictive (aka drug-like) qualities of those pings and likes and notifications. It wasn’t a coincidence that on my birthday this year, as much as I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the sweet notes and well-wishes throughout the day on Facebook, I also left my notebook with my favorite recipes on a shelf in the grocery store (never to be recovered), threw my dog’s leash out with the trash and generally walked around with fog-brain as if I were hung-over. This week, I resisted the urge to post a cute picture of my daughter hugging our dog in the unusually snowy day in Nashville. That meant that I also missed seeing all the photos of my friends’ kids. But the payoff was additional time and FOCUS.
About Sara Light
Sara Light has been writing professionally in Nashville since 1996. Her credits include the John Michael Montgomery title track and the hit single "Home To You" which received an ASCAP airplay award in addition to being named SESAC song of the year for having garnered 2 million spins on radio. She also composed songs for the musical "Urban Cowboy, The Musical" which opened on Broadway in March 2003 and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Original Score." Sara has always combined her love of teaching with her love of songwriting and has given countless songwriting seminars throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 2001 she co-founded, along with her husband Danny Arena, the online educational website www.SongU.com. Besides being one of the main administrators (and now bloggers) Sara teaches Song Feedback and Lyric Writing at www.SongU.com
Information on the 23rd Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: http://www.songwriting.net