My Winter Songwriting Hibernation

Over the last few years I’ve been trying to get more disciplined about making time for songwriting, because I want to write more songs, and I now know that, if I put the time in, songs will get written. But for reasons I don’t understand, I frequently procrastinate. I can understand procrastinating over something that’s not enjoyable, like cleaning the bathroom, but I don’t understand why I procrastinate doing something I enjoy. I suppose I could pay a shrink a couple thousand dollars and find out, but I’d rather spend that money on a nice new Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar.

In October I decided that I would focus on songwriting during the 4 winter months, November-February. I’ve learned that I’m an outdoor person, so it’s hard for me to go into my music basement and compose music when the weather is beautiful outside, like it almost always is during the Spring, Summer and Fall in Denver. But if it’s cold and dark outside, there’s no temptation to go out, and I can work on music. My plan was to put in 2 hours a night on 3 weeknights, and one 3-4 hour session on either Saturday or Sunday.

I wrote this in my songwriting journal on October 26, 2008: “The goal is *not* to say I’ll write x number of songs in the next four months. The goal is to put in the time, with no pressure, have fun and learn.”

Today is March 1, so the 4-month hibernation is over. How did I do?

I found it hard to work on music on weeknights. I just couldn’t get going most nights. Maybe my brain was tired from my day job and I just didn’t want to have to use it anymore. I’m not sure why. I did some songwriting on weeknights, but not even close to meeting the goal.

I did much better on weekends. I did songwriting on a Saturday or Sunday–and sometimes both–most weekends. And I took advantage of holidays during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even took a couple days off work just for songwriting. It was on these days, where I could dedicate a whole day to songwriting, that I was most productive.

I did a lot of composing in the DADGAD guitar tuning. I wrote 3 songs in this tuning, “Let’s Go to the Mountains”, “The Man in the Movies”, and “The Other Side of Nowhere”. I also wrote “Mama Had a Mohawk” and “Misfit” in standard tuning. I started about a half dozen others, but not quite getting them to a first draft stage.

I was also taking piano lessons during this time. I composed one instrumental on the piano, and came up with a few other ideas to be developed later. And I came up with several musical ideas on the guitar which I saved.

Compared to other songwriters, this doesn’t seem very productive for a 4-month period. But for me it was more productive than any other time in my songwriting history. If I can just figure out how to be more disciplined to write on worknights, I could really be productive.

Now I plan to get back out and perform, so more of my music time will be devoted to getting gigs, practicing songs–both myself and with bandmates. But I don’t plan to stop songwriting until next winter. I’d like to have about a 50-50 balance between work for performing and songwriting. I’d still like to write some songs before the next winter hibernation.

I’m not sure why I’m posting this blog. Do I just want people to write and say congrats, good job? Do I want people to write and offer suggestions how to get motivated to be creative on worknights when you’re tired? Do I want free therapy to explain why I procrastinate doing things I love? I don’t know. But for some reason I felt the need to write and post this. Maybe it’s just another form of procrastination; afterall, I could have been working on a song instead of composing this.


1 thought on “My Winter Songwriting Hibernation

  1. Quit procrastinating and go write some songs. 🙂

    I say just force yourself to do it during the week. Force yourself…don’t take no for an answer. You are the boss of yourself. Sit your ass down and do it. End of story.

    Do you work an 18 hour day at your day job? If so, then yeah, it will be tough. If you have a wife and family, they need time, but hey, even then get the kids to bed and cut the sex down to once a week instead of every night and you will find the time (you don’t know how much of a joke I just made if you’re not married.) Above all…no TV!!!!!!!!!

    Doesn’t sound very zen to say force yourself, but it sounds like you need to train yourself if you really want to do this during the week. I don’t like exercising, but when I force myself to do it, and it becomes a habit.

    I’m probably not much help, but creating isn’t as fun as people fantasize that it should be. It is work. Work in your closet…close the door…get a fucking time lock so you can’t get out until your time is up. Screw the nature stuff…prisoners can write good tunes. Maybe they might even write the best stuff…maybe they are longing for a hike in the rockies.

    Now I should quit procrastinating…I need to figure out how to pick this damn time lock. (What a stupid idea that was…I have to take a piss.)

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