Staying Creative In These Difficult Times by Mark Cawley


Well the pandemic probably changed your plans and lifestyle as much or more than my own over the past few weeks. It’s causing all of us to decide how to best use our time. Maybe it’s time away from work or just time away from leisurely pastimes. I know I keep checking ESPN an MLB hoping for a miracle and a full schedule of Yankee spring training games to magically reappear. 

The biggest disappointment for me has been the new travel restrictions including the postponement of my book tour to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Had to post this sad edit of the poster. My wife and I and some great buddies have a week in Florence, Italy and one week near Toulouse, France scheduled for the beginning of May and praying hard for a cure by then. 

This new found free time got me thinking of some creative go-tos, things I can do to keep inspired. I’ve been doing this songwriting thing a long time and there have been tough periods in the past where I might not feel like working on a song or dealing with the music business. I’ve found this can be a great time to intentionally look for inspiration from other sources. 

Reading. I’m not a fan of audio books, I guess I need something more tactile even if it’s an iPad which is my source for books these days. You can download books for free from your library through apps like Hoopla or buy them through iTunes and other apps. I also like to find instructional videos to try and learn something new on an instrument or piece of gear. 

Here are a few of the books and sites I’ve found to be inspiring lately. Hope some of these are a help to you if you find yourself holed up at home and a might stir crazy. 


“How Sweet It Is” by Lamont Dozier. 

Fantastic behind the scenes stories and even has a section in the back devoted to the best bits of advice in the book. 

“Me” by Elton John 

What a journey though the life of one of the best songwriters of our time, loved it. Great sense of humor throughout. 

“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp 

I keep going back to this one over the years. A great American choreographer with some inventive practices. 

“On Writing Well” by William Zinsser 

A Bible of creative writing. 

“Sound Man” by Glyn Johns 

Fun trip through some of the biggest records of the 60’s and 70’s. 

The Beatles Complete Chord Book 

Every time I pick this up I find a new chord or two as well as a new appreciation of their genius. 

YouTube Videos: 

James Taylor Free Guitar lessons 

Just started going through this, love the inside of the sound hole view! 

Justin Free Guitar lessons 

Just plain fun. He makes it easy to learn or revisit some old favorite songs on guitar. 

Harry Connick Jr  How To Play Piano 

Just started to explore this one for new chord shapes. Looks good so far! 


“Hoopla” free books from your library 

I would urge you to poke around the app store for apps to help with guitar chords, lyrics, memos, drum loops … anything that will help inspire you. 

What creative releases do you implement when you need a spark of inspiration or escape? Stay safe and God bless! Please keep my town of Nashville in your thoughts and prayers dealing with the recent Tornados. 

A Special Offer. I've been hearing from songwriters in different parts of the world this week and all in the same situation. Lot's of time at home and interested in working on their writing. With this in mind I want to make a 2 part offer. If you follow the link here to my single session option and enter the code singlesession you can get $50 off the price. The second part of my offer is when you sign up 20% of your payment will go to the organization .I've added a link to them in the comment section if you'd like to find out what they're doing to help with the Corona Pandemic. Offer is good until the end of April, one person, one time only and open to everyone. Stay safe and I hope to work with you soon! Please share this offer.…/single-session-package 

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I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for the spring. Visit my website for more info or write to me at 

Check out this interview in M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!