Create Your Songwriting Practice Routine
Focus your efforts and maximize your songwriting results by building your consistent songwriting practice routine.
Every decent music teacher or vocal coach has advice for creating a practice routine… but nobody seems to talk about how to practice songwriting!
It might be the belief that songwriting is so personal, that every songwriter does it differently, but there are important things that every songwriter needs to work on.
And don’t give in to the amateur excuse: “I just wait to be inspired and then write from the heart” …
Professional musicians practice systematically and consistently, so should songwriters.
If you are serious about writing great songs, it’s time to set up or re-evaluate your songwriting practice so you don’t need to:
- Wonder what to write about.
- Hope inspiration strikes before you get frustrated.
- Worry you are stuck in a rut.
- Write multiple versions of the same song.
- Feel like you aren’t improving.
- Think there must be a better way to write!
Sidenote: If you struggle to get yourself to write regularly, or read more about songwriting than write songs, I explain an easy system to build regular songwriting into your life, starting with 5 minutes a day: Free Guide to Daily Songwriting (opens new tab)…
First let’s visualize an Ideal Songwriting Practice Routine.
Then set your priorities and carve away the extras to build a Customized Songwriting Practice Routine that fits your goals:
Ideal Songwriting Practice Routine
There are 5 general categories of songwriting activities:
- Warm Up
- Songwriting Technique
- Learn / Analyze Repertoire
- Write and Finish your Songs
- Cool Down / Reflection
Warm Up – Find the Flow
Review your notes from last session, do a brief writing warm up, or play through one of your songs
Work on exercises that focus on one or more of these areas:
- Chords Progressions
- Accompaniment – how each instrumental part fits into the song, the notes played by each instrumental part
Bonus – article: 25 Five Minute Songwriting Exercises
Learn New Music
- Listen to new songs
- Learn to sing and play new songs
- Transcribe Songs – learn new songs by listening and playing/singing them & writing them down
- Analysis – Tear apart great songs to figure out how to do it
Although you can do this anywhere, when I do it in my songwriting space I apply it immediately and get instant results… otherwise I read about great ideas and exercises but don’t try them….
Read Songwriting Books and Blogs – then apply it. Often lyrics and music theory are presented as separate topics.
Practice Your Finished Songs
Play songs you have finished, either for performing or recording, and to keep them fresh. Listen for new ideas to improve these songs.
Write New Songs
I listed this last because otherwise you would have ignored most of the other areas where you have to learn new things and stretch outside your comfort zone. Instrumentalists and vocalists usually do technical exercises first so they can apply their technical improvements to their repertoire.
Self Reflection – Check in with Yourself
- How are you writing?
- How do you feel about writing?
- How do you feel about what you have written?
- What works well?
- What needs improvement?
- What do you avoid?
- How do you distract yourself?
- What happens when you start getting distracted?
Review your session: choose a place to start for your next session, and write notes on what you worked on, what went well, what needs more attention.
I explain a simple 3 minute Cool Down process of self reflection and planning your next writing session in the Guide to Daily Songwriting…
click below to get your free copy:
Songwriting Practice Tips – BONUS
Create a place especially for your songwriting, free of distractions and interruptions.
Choose a time of day that easily works with your life, as frequent as possible.
Take a 5 minute break or change tasks when your focus wavers.
Change it up
Avoid boredom, use variety to keep you fresh, do regular tasks in a different order
Organize your Songwriting
Keep your finished songs and song ideas where you can find them. Use notebooks, computer files, playlists of voice memos, playlists of rough demos and finished demos….
Keep Track of your ideas
Keep lists of:
- Songs to learn, songs you can play, songs you’ve written
- Playlists of songs to transcribe
- Future song titles to write
- Song lyric ideas
- Interesting chord progressions
- Songwriting books to read
- Songwriting technique exercises
Now let’s build your Songwriting Practice Routine
Set Your Priorities
An Ideal Songwriting Practice is lengthy and difficult to do consistently… so figure out where you need to focus by deciding what is most important for you.
To help you follow through and create your songwriting practice routine, you can
(Click here if you are already on the epicsongwriting email list and have trouble downloading it, I will email you a link – sometimes the robots get angry if you try to signup more than once)
Use these sample questions to get started prioritizing:
- What are my goals?
- What are my songwriting strengths?
- What comes easily?
- What are my songwriting weaknesses?
- What do I avoid trying or doing?
- What do I need to work on the most?
- What small improvements would give big results?
Then decide how important each area is for you:
For example – choose a personal rating for each area in the Ideal Practice Routine:
1. Every time
2. Every time bonus (when there’s time)
3. Every other time
6. Maybe when I get some time – or next month
7. Not going to do it right now
or rate them from you most to least important….
Create Your Practical Songwriting Practice Routine
To help you set your priorities and create your songwriting practice routine
Now you can put your own songwriting practice routine following your priorities!
Review and Revise: check on your progress monthly and adjust your goals and your Practical Songwriting Practice Routine
To give you some ideas, here is my latest Songwriting Practice Routine:
Warm Up – check session notes, turn guitar and play a finished song (5 minutes)
Songwriting Technique – free-write new title ideas or write from a title idea (5-15 minutes) … Read 25 Five Minute Songwriting Exercises
Write Songs – Next Best Song (5-30 minutes), option work on other songs
- Try a new Songwriting Technique exercise (1 per week)
- Record a finished song on phone, focus on memorizing and vocal delivery
- Listen to songs on studio speakers (not earbuds)
- Review incomplete demos, decide where to focus on next production day
- Brainstorm and outline songs (15+ minutes) twice a week
- Brainstorm and outline blog posts for epicsongwriting (15+ minutes) twice a week
- Research new songwriting technique exercises, choose one to try
- Learn to play and sing 2+ new songs a month (10-20 minutes a session)
- Transcribe 2+ songs a month (15-30 minutes a session)
- Review Songwriting Notes, looking for old ideas or songs to work on
- Review Practice Goals
- Review Practice Routine
Cool Down / Self Reflection (3 minutes)