It’s not easy to carve out time for singing, or any other craft. But, strangely, it gets easier when you make a commitment. Here are some tips that might help you get started on a regular practice — whether you’re singing every week, writing every day, beatboxing every half-hour, or underwater basket-weaving every six or seven years. I hope they are helpful to you in some way.
1. Keep it low stakes. The less it matters to you the easier it will be to do it consistently. Don’t buy fancy new tools. Don’t make a big deal about launching. Just start quietly and see what happens.
2. Leave a workstation set up. Its presence will remind you.
3. Use peer pressure. Get other people to help keep you honest. Even if their job is just to open and delete an email with your daily project. If you feel that they might notice if you fall out of your routine, you will be more likely to stay on it.
4. Cut yourself some slack. If you’re like me you probably are hard enough on yourself as it is. Start with a gentle commitment and see how it feels; you can always scale up. Consider allowing yourself to save up material for days when making just isn’t practical. And you know what? It’s okay if you miss a day. There’s always tomorrow.
5. Find community. Think of your art as not an end in itself but a way that you can open yourself up to other people. When you feel excited about something you just made, harness that energy and use it not to promote yourself but to connect with others.
6. Don’t give up. It’s easy to get discouraged after making something you think is bad. But the longer you stick with it, not only the more competent you will become, but the less any individual day’s work will contribute to your sense of worth as an artist—or as a person. It gets easier.
7. Keep it fun. It is tempting to build up expectations and get ambitious. But if you lose the thread of earnest enthusiasm, your project will become a burden, and you’ll find ways to sabotage it. Keeping it fun might be the best step you can take to ensure that the project lasts. Sometimes that might involve working harder. Other times it might involve relaxing or allowing for change.
8. Be flexible. If you feel the nature of the work shifting under your feet, don’t change course immediately. Stick with it through the end of the month at least. But if there is sustained tugging, it’s totally legit to re-examine what you’re doing and change it.
9. Don’t worry about getting famous. It’s okay if the world hasn’t noticed how brilliant you are. The point is to work every day and get better at your craft. Time (and a little marketing) may eventually connect you to the people who enjoy what you do. But for now: just make without worrying too much about the future.
10. Find mentors. Seek out the artists whose work you admire the most. Do they teach? Your steady practice will allow you to send them a record of your recent growth. It will be good solid information for them. And for you. If you have the courage to look back over recent work, and inspect it with an eye towards growth, then you can become your own mentor. In fact, you must.
11. Keep it simple. Don’t think too much about who you are or why you make what you make. Don’t try to judge its worthiness. Just make stuff all the time for a good while. Don’t forget how lucky you are to be able to do that.
12. See what happens next. Daily or weekly making is powerful stuff. It can transform your relationship with yourself. It can change how others perceive you as an artist. It can even change the way you approach everyday tasks. Pay attention to the possibilities it opens up.
(NOTE: Many of these tips were inspired by conversations with the daily songwriter Jonathan Mann, who talked me into starting a daily vocal looping practice.)