Songwriters, Plan Your Productivity


Brent is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford, Ray Stevens, and more.  He’s written a top 5 hit in the US and a #1 in Canada… so far.


Hey, ya’ll! At the bottom of today’s post, I’m going to let you know about some free stuff I’m giving away to all of you great Man vs. Row subscribers. Now, on to today’s post…

Part of the fun of being a songwriter is that a lot of your time is a blank canvas waiting on you to decide which brushes you want to pick up.  It’s not like some jobs where you know, “I’m going to get to work at 8am and do this and that until 5pm every day until I quit, retire, get fired, or die of a heart attack.”

I definitely prefer the blank canvas.  But it comes with its own dangers.  The blank canvas doesn’t make you pick up any brushes.  It doesn’t tell you what you should be doing when you sit down to work.  You have to decide.

If you’re like me, you have limited time for your songwriting work.  Maybe you get up early, while the spouse and kids are still in bed, so you can do some dreamwork before you have to go to your jobwork.  Maybe it’s some free time on your lunch break.  Or maybe it’s after everyone else has gone to bed.

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to waste that precious little time with just deciding how to spend that time.  “Should I consolidate my hooks from the week into my hook book?  Should I find an idea to write?  Rewrite?  Do I set up publisher or pitch meetings?”

Deciding among these options- heck, just figuring out what your options are- can seriously eat into your time.  Or maybe you never really decide- you just hop from one shiny object to another without any plan or direction.  (“How’d I end up reading this blog about the top ten running backs in Arkansas Razorback history?”)

My time is mostly in the morning while Em, Ozzy, and Ruby Jean are still in bed.  However, I’m not at my sharpest first thing in the morning.  So I’ve learned that, to be my most productive, I need to plan my productivity.  So that means I’ve started keeping a running task list.  As I’m driving around and working during the day, I think about what I need to do over the next few days.  That way, when I’m still a little foggy in the AM, I just reference my list, pick the highest priority and get to work.  This also works if Em and Ozzy take a nap or if Em goes to bed early- I can get my list and hopefully knock something out in that “bonus time.”

I HIGHLY recommend that you keep a task or “to do” list handy while you’re at your non-songwriting job.  ‘Cuz let’s face it- you’re probably thinking about it while you’re at work, anyway.  Don’t lose those moments where an idea hits you- whether a song idea or a to-do idea.

When you maximize your productive time, you maximize your chance of success.

God Bless,



I’m excited to be speaking on song idea discovery and development at the 2014 Songwriting And Music Business Conference in Nashville, TN! Click the image below to find out more. I’d love to see you there!

2014 Conference Conference and Song School and City image Logo Image


As a way to say “thank you” to all of you who subscribe to Man vs. Row by email, I’m going to give away some cool stuff in July (2014). If you subscribe to MvR, I’ll send you a free report, “10 Things The Pro Knows.” I’ll also send you the guitar/vocal of “Crickets,” which is the title track of Joe Nichols’ current album. You’ll get to hear the song as Joe heard it when he decided to record it. You’ll also receive the lyric file of the song- and this lyric file includes “Baxter’s Boneyard” – all the lines that DIDN’T make it into the song (see if you agree with our choices). It’s something nobody else has seen, and I think it’s pretty cool. But, again, this gift is only for those who subscribe to Man vs. Row by E-MAIL. These gifts will be sent by email, so if I don’t have your email address, I can’t send it to you. God Bless!


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4 thoughts on “Songwriters, Plan Your Productivity”

  1. Hello Brent. Danny and Lynda Cox told me to look you up, my name is Raul ODonnal and I’m planing on moving to Nashville soon, I’m a Singer/Songwriter hoping to do what your doing, would love to get some input . I’ll start checkin out your blog, looks like you have some good info here.

    1. Raul,
      Welcome to Nashville (soon)! The blog is definitely the best place to start getting my thoughts on songwriting and the biz. Good luck with everything- and tell Lynda and Danny I miss them!

    1. Awesome! There is a place on the top-right corner of where you can enter your email address to subscribe. If you’re on a mobile device, the subscription box should be below the posts. Thanks!

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