• Julianna Sweeney

The *Most* Important Component Of Songwriting | How To Overcome Writer's Block

What is arguably the *most* important component of songwriting?

Consistency.

Yup, that's it, although it's a bit more difficult to implement than to comprehend...


This principle applies to just about everything in life, but for our purposes, I'm gonna talk about songwriting.


Speaking from personal experience, from when I began songwriting at 11 years old to only a few months ago (with the exception of my first four semesters of college which I'll discuss shortly), I only wrote when I felt inspired. I'd write when I got an idea, was going through something or came across a cool chord progression. Though some of those inspirational moments lead to some great songs, they were few and far between, and as a result, I fell victim to many instances of "writer's block."


I'm not going to try and say "writer's block" is a myth, but I've definitely found that the biggest proponent of those moments was my lack of discipline. This brings me to those first four semesters of college that I mentioned earlier. My main discipline was songwriting and every week I had a one on one lessons with a professor, Dr. Lee (who really became more of a mentor to me). Each week we'd workshop one of my new songs.


The first semester was a breeze for two reasons:

  1. There was an excitement being at college that sparked a lot of inspiration to write

  2. In the odd case that I forgot to/"couldn't" write, I had a backlog of songs that I could present that my professor hadn't heard yet


The following semester was a different story and there were a few instances where I'd show up empty handed. Dr. Lee would never tell me what to do. If I showed up empty handed that was on me. He did, however, give me one of the most crucial pieces of advice I've ever heard, and I still carry it with me to this day.

Set aside time to write every day and you'll find that your "writer's block" will fade away.

In the spirit of full transparency, I thought he was full of sh*t (pardon my French). At the time, between navigating classwork, being away from family, and a whole multitude of other things going on in my life, I was adamant in maintaining my precious scapegoat "writer's block." The darnedest thing though, was that when I actually implemented the habit, and maintained it consistently, it worked.


The seasons that I've gone through since then where I failed to maintain scheduled writing time, guess what? I fell victim to "writer's block." It didn't truly click until I started reading more self-development books and understood the power of habit creation (and the finiteness of the human will). Some of those books included: "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, "Badass Habits" by Jen Sincero, "Deep Work" by Cal Newport and "Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins.


Perhaps one of the most extreme musical examples of the power of consistency can be found in The Beatles. They were incredibly prolific and why? Among other things, it was because they made it a point to play music and write just about every single day.


Most of the limits we face are self-imposed. Once we come to terms with that, we can actively implement a plan to become the best versions of ourselves moving forward.

A few months back, I made it a point to add writing into my daily schedule. So far I've written seven new songs this year and it's only the beginning of March - That's seven more than this time last year.


The key? You gotta be consistent.


Hard work trumps talent when talent doesn't work hard. The inspiration will come - put away your phone and block out the distractions. The message that people need to hear will come out - God has a funny way of working through us when we dedicate time to listen. The melody and production will come - because if you dedicate time consistently to anything, you're guaranteed to be successful.


Your best work is still inside you just waiting to come out. Now you just have to pave the way for it. You got this.


Sending love always,

J.S.



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