How to Easily Develop a Writing or Practice Routine

A few weeks ago, I asked an aspiring singer-songwriter what her biggest challenge is. Her response was one I’ve heard from every musician I know at some point:

I just don’t have time to practice or write songs. My plan is to get out of town for 3 months next year and hunker down to practice and write.

I know how she feels.

I’ve felt like that so many times. I often think: wouldn’t it be great if I could pause my life, head out into the woods Bon Iver-style and finally get some shit done?

Unfortunately, I’ve found that I can’t ever seem to make that happen. Instead, I’ve found developing helpful routines tends to take me further.

To illustrate routine building, I’ll use an exercise analogy.

First, Here Are Two Ineffective Techniques

 

Option #1: 

  • Put on gym clothes.
  • Head to gym.
  • Run as hard as possible for 30 minutes.
  • Head home.
  • Pass out
  • Never go again.

Option #2: 

  • Become a barefoot, trail-running maniac for 3-6 months at the expense of the rest of your life. Finally suffer from over-training and quit running altogether.

Yep, I’ve done both of those.

Instead, What If You Approached It Like This?

  1. Wake up a little earlier than you normally do now, put on gym clothes, and drive to gym.
  2. Sit in parking lot for 2 minutes.
  3. Repeat Step #1.
  4. Walk into the gym and stand there for 2 minutes. Go home.
  5. Repeat Step #1.
  6. Stand on the treadmill for 2 minutes. Go home.
  7. Repeat Step #1.
  8. Walk on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home.
  9. Repeat Step #1
  10. Run on treadmill for 2 minutes. STOP. Go home.
  11. Repeat Step #1
  12. Then start SLOWLY creeping up your time until you reach 30 min/day.

Get it? Baby steps… baby steps…

Try applying that to writing music or practicing. Start by sitting down and holding your instrument. Then after 2 minutes put it up. No matter what, do not let yourself noodle around. That’s reinforcing a bad habit. Then, write it down in your practice journal. “Sat with guitar for 2 minutes.”

Do that for 21 days and you’ll have developed a practice routine.

Now, what are you going to get done? Post it in the comments.

Chris

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Chris Jacobie

Hi, my name is Chris Jacobie. I'm a music producer from San Antonio, TX. I help musicians make better records ...even if they don't have much money.

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