1. Finish songs.
If there’s just one thing you take away from this post I hope it’s this. Pros have learned the value of finishing songs. That is not to say that every song they write gets recorded or even demoed. But they make an effort to either finish them or decide whether the idea warrants being finished. If it doesn’t, they salvage the good stuff to be used in a future writing session. They build up an arsenal of song titles, ideas, lines and hooks so that they have a good inventory when it comes down to creating again.
And pros know how to overcome the blocks that might hinder the process of completing a song by applying their craft and asserting their work ethic. (More on this with #6!)
2. Build a team to support the dream.
Pros know how to find, engage and build their team. Or in other words, how to find, engage and build their team of co-writers, publishers, song pluggers, fans, mentors, consultants, advisors, agents, managers, bookers, etc. Basically what constitutes the “support system” of their business. Pros know that the road is too long and winding to navigate on their own. They also know what is their core competency (songwriting) and the value of keeping focused on it. Usually that means outsourcing the other stuff to the furthest extent they can. And pros know how to barter for services with their co-writers when resources are tight. They find a way to create value.
3. Listen to other people’s songs and learn.
Pros listen to learn. They create playlists, spin cds, stream Spotify, and Apple Music, download tracks from iTunes, watch YouTube videos and any or all other ways to consume music. They know that by listening to music and studying the old stuff and also the new, it will spark ideas and inspire their writing. Pros songwriters become fans of other pro songwriters.
4. Develop their craft by continuing education.
Pro songwriters are always in a state of learning. They have a passion for growing in the art form. This applies to pros of any kind. It could be in the field of sports, academics, science, arts…whatever. The learning process never ceases because is a rooted intellectual curiosity.
5. Develop their own writing style and voice.
Pros know that their style and voice have developed because they’ve written a lot of songs. There is no shortcut for developing; it doesn’t happen after writing just one song. But pros understand that with time, it gets easier and more fluid. And so they make it a daily practice. Authenticity is honed from practice. And because every human being has his or her own unique perspective on the world and experiences in it, every potential writer’s voice is completely unique.