Lessons Learned From A Songwriting Challenge

In the summer of 2023, I hosted a free 10 week songwriting challenge in my Facebook group The Studio Songwriter. It was a pilot project. Each week participants were presented with a writing prompt and they had a week to write, or at least attempt, to write a song.

Each Friday for ten weeks, we would meet on Zoom to play our songs.

It was wonderful, spellbinding, tiring, and connective. Artists from all over the world came together to write, to share, and to meet new people.

The event was so popular, we made it an official community and it turned into The Studio Songwriter.

Here are FIVE things I learned from the experience that summer.

1. Find Creative Spaces

Spaces inhabited by people who are invested in growing and bettering their craft are so powerful. If you’re in a slump, or looking for inspiration, get out there and join a community, in real life or online.

Surrounding yourself with others who share an interest in music and songwriting may serve to motivate and move you. In the summer songwriting challenge, participants showed up, and were able to connect in a rare and intimate way.

It’s a good lesson for artists: always be on the lookout for spaces that feed your growth.

2. Show Vulnerability

When you find yourself among other creative people, try to show up with a bit of vulnerability, and be present with it. 

Growth happens when you try new things, don’t always get it perfect, and take risks. For some, this means knowing you haven’t nailed the perfect version of your work, and you are open to workshopping it, and taking in feedback. 

In the summer songwriting challenge, I witnessed participants take these kinds of risks week after week, and produce work that exceeded their own expectations.

3. Shine

Finding your groove and flow as a performer is essential to building a vibrant practice as a singer-songwriter. Take advantage of opportunities to talk about your work, perform your songs, and absorb audience reaction. 

Find spaces where you can take up space, put yourself out there, and shine! The Songwriter Challenge is designed to be primarily about self-growth and development as an artist, in an environment where you can play your songs and shine for others. 

Learn about the 14 songwriting challenge, the online concert opportunity, and private platform for the group here.

4. Accountability

When possible, set yourself up for success with accountability from others who will reflect on your progress, and help celebrate your growth. 

Connecting with a mentor, or team, that is there to witness and encourage your development is invaluable. Take your practice seriously and give yourself a regime that works for you, and is challenging. (There is no substitute for consistency!) 

In the songwriter challenge, participants said they loved the weekly prompt, the accountability, and ongoing opportunity to showcase new work.

5. Trust yourself

One of the greatest elements of the summer songwriting challenge was that participants said it fostered a structure, and pressure, to experiment with their craft in novel ways. 

The ‘trust yourself’ muscle is not always the strongest, and yet it is an invaluable one to exercise, especially in a safe and supportive environment. Participants in the songwriting challenge remarked how they drew from within, in ways they hadn’t previously.