Originally Posted by mikedboh
Somewhere in all of this ADD(?) kicks in and I lose it.
In all honesty I haven't written a full song in almost 10 years. It's sad. ...
There is just something in my mind that is screwing up the whole process.
Yes, this blockage is common across all the intellectual endeavors. Consider all the aspiring literature writers out there that have that blockbuster novel waiting inside them. But, they've been stuck for the last 10 years on the first page with "It was a dark and stormy night...
Some good suggestions have been made about the actual composition process of music. I'm going back up one step before
that and suggest that you take an honest
inventory of how you like to spend your time
. It may or may not include songwriting -- or -- it recasts what "accomplishment" in songwriting would mean to you.
Here's an example. I write songs and usually spend about 6 to 8 hours per day on it. This is natural
for me. I don't have to fake out my head with a pep talk to do it. But while that's happening, I've also got a stack of wood in the garage that's waiting for me to make a table out of it. I've also got a computer in another room that's waiting for me to upgrade it from Windows 2003 to Windows 2008. I even bought a harddrive over a year ago for that purpose and it's still in its shrinkwrap!
It's just not been an exciting priority at the moment to cut & sand that wood for the table. And, I dread messing around with the computer server because I guess I'd rather do something else
. In contrast, a hardcore geeker would've pulled an all-nighter to upgrade that thing the same day the new harddrive was purchased.
If I were to visit and woodworking forum and ask "why can't I finish my woodcutting project?
" and then visit a computer tech forum and ask "why I can't seem to focus on my server upgrade
" ... they might offer specific advice to each hobby such as "get nicer table saw tools to make it more pleasurable
" or "ditch Windows and get Mac Pro
" etc. The real underlying problem
is that I obsess too much over the songwriting
and neglect the other tasks. Basically, it's the opposite problem that you're having.
So, you have the same 24 hours to spend like everyone else including Bruno Mars, Diane Warren, Dr Luke, etc. I read that Diane Warren typically works 10+ hours 6 days a week on songwriting. So in the next hour that you and I might be surfing the web or watching ESPN highlights of baseball basketball, she was polishing the bridge of a a song... or reworking some tricky lyrics in a difficult section. In that hour that passed by, she made progress
, while you did not. She didn't necessarily write 1 complete song in that hour but she progressively inched toward completion
of a song. Again, it's the same 24 hours we all have.
In more concrete numbers:
365 days a year * 16 waking hours = 5840 hours
hours a year for fulltime job = 3340 hours
multiply by 10 years you haven't written a song: 33,400 hours
You have to examine yourself critically without preconceived notions and determine what it is you naturally like to spend time on. You probably didn't spend those 33,000+ hours staring at 4 blank walls. You did do something
during all that time -- but what
was it exactly? Hard to take accurate inventory now since all that time is gone and forgotten. I suggest keeping a daily journal
of all your thoughts and activities. When I was younger, I used to think a journal/log was too much like a teenage girl keeping a silly diary but I've changed and now see the immense value of it. It's human nature to easily forget
how you fritter your valuable hours and days away on things that are not important. A log with months and years worth of entries that you can look back on will help you do some forensics on how you live your life. You don't need fancy software such as Personal Information Managers. You don't need to download a cute iPhone app for this. In Windows, you can just use Notepad; in Mac use Textedit. Enter the date&time and write a one-liner of what you did or were thinking. Perhaps instead of songwriting, you spent several hours building sandcastles with your kids at the beach. Write that in. If you were songwriting the morning of 2012 Feb 29, you write that in. You add as many entries for the day as you feel comfortable. In my log, there are typically between 1 and 5 entries per day.
You start to learn all sorts of strange and wonderful trivia about yourself. For example, I noticed that I came up with most ideas in the morning. I also learned that I spent too much time on the phone with some folks that didn't help my goals. Before keeping a journal, I had a vague feeling that they were wasting my time but it was the rereading of my log notes
that I was able to quantify it with concrete numbers. Armed with that knowledge, whenever Person X's caller id showed on my phone, I let it go to to voicemail instead of becoming a 1 hour timesink.
Is songwriting a natural activity that you prefer to do? Keep a log for a few weeks. Maybe there are other enjoyable activities competing for your time and therefore, cranking out 1 song per year is the right pace for how it fits in your life. Therefore, no guilt or sadness for whatever the natural productivity level is for creating music.