BMA vocal coach Jesse Nemitz and artist Ryan Johnson were talking about a radical change they had made in their approach to songwriting. Jesse said that if you begin with the end in mind, the song practically creates itself. Then, in the process of birthing and growing the monster hit, if a new idea pops up, it can be set aside to develop for another song once you finish that track you’re on.
The critically obsessive-compulsive naysayer in me kept thinking of the pitfalls that might be presented and throw you off track, but the interruptions could either be dismissed and help you further focus or they could be set aside for further inspiration at the next writing session.
A Sound Approach
The more I thought about it the more I realized what it is that makes this approach a sound one. When you know where you’re headed, you’ll map out a plan to get there. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll be fumbling around in a whole lot of nowhere, that vast wasteland we all too often are drawn to out of fear of failure, laziness, avoiding responsibility, procrastination – trust me, I could go on.
By starting with the end in mind, you’re setting a goal. That goal will help to shape the plan, the track you’re on, the song you’re writing – whatever the task at hand. It triggers decision-making, problem-solving, and taking action. These are all good things that a creative dreamer needs to keep them grounded and headed in a positive direction.
This approach applies to everyday tasks like housecleaning, making dinner, getting dressed. You know what it is that you want. So you create a path for getting there. The same applies to every single aspect of your career as a singer, singer-songwriter, actor, musician, or performer.
Ditch The Distractions
Artists are more prone to distraction. You get inspired. Your moods shift, and you lose interest. By starting with the end result in mind, you engage creative flow. Creativity by nature is problem solving. It really is all about how do you get the results you want. We often focus too much on where we’d like to be but get frustrated or distracted and fail to follow through.
Apply this principle of starting with the end in mind whenever you find yourself hedging or putting things off. Identify and spell out as detailed as you can what it is that you want to achieve, and then work backward through the steps you need to take to achieve that goal or end.
The Warm Up
To get started, give yourself permission to free associate and brainstorm for a few minutes. You don’t want to linger here. This is simply to identify specific creative and business goals for yourself. Start with no more than three specific things. Jot these down and stop with three.
Take each one by one and get them more specific so that you can clearly see yourself obtaining each. Visualization does help with making something seem real and more concrete. It will help you define the goal as obtainable. That will help trigger the necessary steps to take in reaching the goal. These steps or short-term goals serve to bring you closer to achieving the bigger long-term goals that bring your dreams of singing or performing success closer. The closer they get the more confident you become and the dream becomes more real until you’re living it.
Start With Simple
Start with simple goals so that you get a feel for the process. You’ll find it will become second nature. You’ll be a better problem solver. You’ll become more proactive. And you’ll grow as an artist with business smarts. When you see real, tangible results it feeds your incentive to keep pressing on.
Ask yourself this simple question: what are you doing to make your dream a reality? If you want to be a pop star or hip-hop artist or make it on Broadway, what are you doing to get there?
Make A Record Of It
Start with the end in mind and don’t lose site of it. Keep a journal or ongoing blog to chart your course, log your achievements and setbacks, and learn from the twists and turns that will come your way.
You will stumble and fall. You’ll be disappointed, frustrated, heartsick at times, but with determination and perseverance you increase your chances for fulfilling your dreams and making your mark. Remember it’s how your bounce back or get up after a fall that defines your character, reveals your strength, and conveys the depth and breadth of your heart and soul as an artist.
Talent by itself won’t open doors. Those hard knocks that come from finding your feet, staying the course, pressing on in spite of the rough patches, that will help you arrive on time. Believe in your gifts, be grateful, and live for the love of sharing those gifts. And like Jesse and Ryan would say, start with the end in mind.