by Mark Cawley
Many of you may journal on a regular basis and that’s a great songwriting tool. You may read motivational books, devotionals, how-tos, and even autobiographies of famous songwriters. Also a great way to see the path they’ve taken to success. Keeping a journal is not only great for your songwriting but the fastest way to get to the good stuff you want to write about. It also makes you more authentic as well as help your creativity flourish.
There is so much great information out there but, I wondered if there was anything missing? In setting out to write my new book I talked with writers I coach about what they would like to get from a songwriting book. I also gave a lot of thought to the coaching and workshops I've been doing these past 10 years, what works well and what doesn't seem to resonate with songwriters. These are the top 5 statements I heard and became the basis for "The Daily Song Journal":
It's so hard to take in (and retain) a long and sometimes too technical how-to book for me.
I really need accountability.
So many songwriting books focus on just technique when I wish I could get help in every area of my day-to-day life as a creative.
Books I've read tell me what to do but don't point me in directions that will help me further.
I would do better with bite-sized bits of wisdom in a way that would keep me interested every week.
Taking these into account I decided to write a daily journal, specifically for songwriters, that would contain bits of inspiration and motivation, and action steps for follow up and provide room to write your thoughts each day and, of course, to keep it short! There is so much more to being a complete songwriter than just the nuts and bolts of writing and to that end I wanted to share some recreational tools and even health tips. Here are a few random entries from The Daily Song Journal that address the five statements above.
Point #1 - Nothing technical here!
August 4, Day 216
Be quiet. Today. There is power in silence. There is so much noise around us every day, some of it of our own making. Think you could spend a good portion of today with the sound of silence?
The benefits are huge for you as a songwriter. You can collect your thoughts in the silence, you might even get a visit from your subconscious during this time. I highly recommend it today.
Read: Psychology Today, April 21, 2017 article by Atalanta Beaumont “10 Reasons Why Silence Really is Golden”
Note to Self (This is where there are lines to write your discoveries and thoughts for the day)
Point # 2 - How about Accountability?
May 12, Day 132
Another day to check your events calendar and commit. If you’re not in the habit by now of seeking out songwriter-related events, please do this today. Almost every city has an organization or a branch of one (NSAI for instance, Nashville Songwriter Association International) and someplace that has live music. Preferably songwriter nights. You don’t have to jump right into trying to get a spot on one but start slow and venture out and meet other writers where they hang out. The word network will come up often…because you need one!
Go: make a commitment based on your calendar and show up
Note to Self
Point #3 - Here’s another day that addresses something that’s just as important as working on your lyrics and melodies.
January 20, Day 20
Today is a mental health day. Check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Energy level? Ability to focus? Seriously, your mental and physical health is so vital to your creative longevity. If you need to make changes, small or large, reflect on them today. Maybe it’s as simple as taking a long walk every day. Maybe it’s eating healthy or my personal challenge …getting enough sleep! A healthy mind and body will make this creative year your best ever.
Listen: Podcast “The Doctors Farmacy” with Dr. Mark Hyman. He has many great episodes on sleep, eating healthy, and taking care of your body.
Note to Self
Point #4 - Let’s expand your knowledge and send you to some interesting reading.
July 2, Day 183
It bears repeating. There is only one you. Yep. Make it today’s mantra. You’re the only one of you there is, they aren’t making anymore. Now that we have that established…how much of you is going into your songs? What makes you different? What’s unique about you? Don’t you dare say “nothing.” Everyone has their own story, and yours needs to be in the DNA of your writing. It’s the very best shot at having your songs stand out in a crowd.
Read: aconsciousrethink.com, “10 Things That Make A Person Unique” by Jack Nollan, May 27, 2020
Note to Self
Point #5 - Bite sized and interesting
June 15, Day 166
One of my favorite lyric tools is to levitate. Sound crazy? It works. Imagine you’re floating above the story you’re writing about in your lyric. Now just describe what you see. All of it. As it unfolds. As a spectator to your own lyric, you’re free to just show it in real time.
Go: take a lyrical idea you’ve had floating around and try this idea
Note to Self
All to say, it’s so important to get in touch with every part of your creative being to turn your songwriting into a life-long passion.
Mark Cawley is a hit songwriter, best-selling author, in demand speaker, songwriting coach, and popular blogger. As a songwriter, his songs have been on more than 16 million records to date with cuts ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan, and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Taylor Dayne, Paul Carrack, The Spice Girls, and many more. Through his coaching service iDoCoach.com, he has coached thousands of songwriters worldwide.
His book, Song Journey, was released in April 2019 and went to #1 in six categories on Amazon. Mark is a judge for the UK songwriting contest, Nashville Rising Star, Belmont University’s Commercial Music program, and West Coast Songwriter events. He’s also a contributing author to USA Songwriting, InTune Magazine, Songwriter Magazine, a sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, and a mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK. Born in Syracuse, New York, Mark has lived in Boston, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and London. Mark now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. The Daily Song Journal is his second book.
To connect with Mark for coaching opportunities, visit www.idocoach.com.
To stay up to date on Mark’s latest work, visit www.markcawley.com.
For information on the 26th Annual USA Songwriting Competition, go to: https://www.songwriting.net