From “The Crazy Brave Songwriter” that I wrote about several months ago, we now arrive at “The Organized Songwriter.” In this book, Simon Hawkins breaks down the life of a songwriter to maximize our success (only you can define what success looks like, though). Whether you define success as getting signed to a publisher, winning an award, or invoking emotion in someone close to you, this book will help you.
Simon Hawkins discusses three categories that we should focus on in order to excel at songwriting: craft, network, and technology.
There are many ways that one could hone their songwriting craft, but I want to mention a few that “The Organized Songwriter” focuses on. Setting aside a sacred moment to write is the first and most basic step. If we don’t set aside time to focus on writing, everything else will come first. Simon Hawkins says to add this time to your calendar and protect it jealously. The next helpful step is to practice creative habits. Practicing creative habits will keep creative muscles in shape and can include anything from object writing to journaling. It is also equally important to practice writing, even when you don’t feel like it or the conditions are less than optimal. If excuses not to write are easy to find, then songwriting is just a hobby (which is fine!).
Next up, we want to manage our network. I love how Simon Hawkins points out that the best song can be written, but without a network, no one will hear it. Your network could include family, co-writers, creative friends, publishers, and even critics. Managing your network just means building and nurturing the relationships in these groups. You can potentially learn something from the creative individuals in your life and teach something in return.
When it comes to technology, Simon recommends that we get the best possible tools we can afford within our budget. There are many free applications that we can start with to build our idea bank. For example, if we use the Numbers application on an iPhone or Mac computer, we can capture ideas as they come and then build on them during our creative sacred moment. If we record everything (ideally in one place), it will help us access it later. This is one of the keys to staying organized as a songwriter because ideas can sometimes appear out of nowhere and at awkward moments. There are also a couple of websites that can help with lyric writing and rhyming ideas. From there, we will want to explore instruments and recording equipment. I liked the fact that Simon Hawkins included some of the specific tools he uses as a professional songwriter. But it is important to remember to focus on what is essential for you to achieve your goal.
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