A Songwriter's Ritual, Working From Home

Like every writer I know, I love to read. Most of my books are highlighted and dog-eared in hopes of getting something great someone else wrote to spark something, anything in my own brain:-)! Right now on my coffee table you’ll find “Cleopatra” by Stacy Shiff, “Winning” by Jack Welch, “Life” by Keith Richards,” The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, American Songwriter, Time, Wired and….AARP. Yep…I got to admit it has some great features these days including articles on some of my favorite “baby boomer ” artists. It’s not my typical go-to mag for ideas but my wife pointed out an article by Jane Pauley (again, not my go-to author for cool phrases) and how one of her ideas comes up often in my coaching sessions with songwriters and artists…Ritual.

That’s not exactly what Jane called it, I think she refers to it more as having a routine. Whatever you wanna call it, it’s so important to people who work from home or maybe in your case from a home studio, to have a ritual. Something that let’s you know “I’m workin’ here”! The gist of her article was that she has had trouble motivating herself to feel like she’s really working when she’s home. She took inspiration from her husband, cartoonist Garry Trudeau. Gary writes “Doonesbury” and has been his own boss for more than 40 years. His ritual sounds simple; shower, shave, dress, oatmeal and raisins, scan the paper and go to work.

For me it was pretty close over the years, get up, coffee, more coffee, shower, (every other day shave) and go downstairs to my studio and just play. Had to be first thing in the morning before my brain remembers I’m an adult and have other responsibilities. No matter where I ended up later it set the tone. It let me reward myself for all the idea gathering and reading I’d been doing and let me know I was going to have a set time, everyday, to go to work. The more I created a ritual the more it let my subconscious know we’re here to get busy.

Being your own boss or working from home has some challenges for sure but I found the more structure I could create for myself the more I got done. My wife has always been amazed I’ve been able to work from a home base for so long but I’ve always thought of it as my job and I had to prepare for it anyway I could. Ritual has been key for me.

Jane quotes choreographer Twyla Tharp who said “having a routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration”. In her book “The Creative Habit” she says the key to a productive day is a morning routine that never varies. New one for the coffee table!

Anybody have rituals that work for them?