• Phil McDonald

The Power of Habit

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

We've all been there, you've got a list of things to do, some very important, others not so much but still need your attention all the same. And how often do we shrug our shoulders and go, "Meh". It's so easy to let things pile up and before you know it, your to do list is looking more and more daunting and the whole thing seems like an impossible, never ending task. It's the same with music, sometimes the idea of writing, practising or recording can seem like a mountain to climb. But there's another way to approach this, and one you may not have considered.

If you work a 9 - 5 or any kind of regular job, you're used to a routine or a set of habits. You get up in the morning, shower, eat breakfast and head out the door to work. You probably follow the same route to work whether you make the journey by car, bus or on foot. Essentially, these are habits you follow every day without a second thought, and as a result, you pretty much achieve your daily goals, i.e get up, go to work, go home. So how does this apply to a musician, or more importantly, a solo artist?

Probably the hardest thing for a Singer-Songwriter is staying motivated. With no one but yourself to push you, to make you pick up your guitar and start writing, it's easy to fall into a state of lethargy. It's different if you're part of a band or group, there are other people counting on you to fulfil your role and will let you know if you're falling short. But when you're a solo artist, you're on your own. Forming habits can easily help you overcome this and can become a powerful tool. Let's take a look at songwriting.

What do you need to write a song? You've got your guitar, a quiet environment, pen a paper etc and you wait for some inspiration, something to motivate you to start playing, writing down some ideas and scribbling out some potential lyrics. Great! So the cycle is -

Motivation > Action > Results. Right?

Not necessarily. If the motivation is missing the whole process grinds to a halt. You put down the guitar and go and see what's on TV. How about we approach it a different way -

Action > Results > Motivation.

By forming the habit of writing, taking action and producing some music, results will follow. Whether that means a new track to play at your next gig or potentially your next single that gets radio play, the result will lead to more motivation and the cycle repeats. By simply forming the habit of setting aside time either daily/weekly/fortnightly to sit down and write you're going to see results. If you sit there waiting for inspiration to suddenly strike, you might be lucky but it's more likely you'll be waiting a long long time.

To wrap this up, habit is a very powerful tool and one which you can use in other aspects of your career, not just songwriting. Think about having scheduled practice times for example rather than waiting till you feel like rehearsing. Habits, especially bad ones, can be very hard to break so once you're in this mindset I've no doubt you'll see an increase in both productivity and creativity.

If you need a helping hand and a few pointers to help you along the way, you can get the free Successful Singer-Songwriter Resource Guide here. I'm sure you'll find it useful.

Thanks for reading.

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