Songwriting in 2019: Big Goals, Small Bites, by Mark Cawley

We all like to set goals heading into a new year - it’s a natural thing. I also know that all of us songwriters are dreamers and dreamers don’t tend to think in terms of limitations. We dream big. But sometimes dreaming big set’s us up for some pretty big disappointments. In coaching songwriters every week it usually comes up sooner or later that this business is…hard! 

Small BItes 

What I suggest to my clients is to think in terms of attainable goals. Small bites to get them where they wanna go. The point is to think of your goals as “next steps”. Could the goal in 2019 be to co-write more? Make better demos? Write 3 killer songs and create a website where people can discover you? Create a network and get your songs in front of the powers that be? Make trips to a major music city? Sign up for a workshop? Learn a new instrument? These are all viable, doable, attainable goals. 

Songwriting as a career is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in this for the long run and along with gathering all the knowledge you can, you need affirmation along the way and achieving goals is a great way to feel like you’re closer to that big goal. 

2 Tasks 

I have two things I ask my songwriting clients to do and both might be good tools for you to consider heading into a brand new year. The first would be to answer these five questions: 

What do I want? 

Why do I want it? 

How will I get there? 

What tools will I need? 

Where am I now? 

Your answers can shine a light on your goals and get you thinking about next steps. 

The second task would be to come up with a short mission statement. You’ve seen or heard these for companies. Life Is Good has a simple one: “To spread the power of optimism.” Warby Parker, the eyeglass company, has this one: “To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.” You’re not a business but think about your goals as a songwriter. They’re not easy to write, but the more you can define and distill just who you are as a writer and your goals, the better choices you tend to make. When you write this think about your passions. What drives you to write songs? Your mission statement needs to include the things that fire you up. A mission statement is a great way to put those passions into words and words into action for 2019. 

Song Journey 

On a personal note I’ve always wanted to write a book and 2018 was finally the year to do it. The book is called Song Journey and has moved on to the layout and cover design stage with a release in April 2019. In working with my publisher, some of the best advice I received was not to be intimidated by the amount of writing involved but to think of it in terms like “writing 250 words a day.” The book ended up being around 44,000 words and if I had focused on that number instead of the more attainable chapter-by-chapter idea, I think I would have lost my mind. Small bites. Big goal . . . attained. 

Wishing you  an amazing new year! 

Mark Cawley 

Nashville, Tennessee

I was pleased to be voted the #4 Songwriting blog worldwide recently. Check it out here. 

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I'm currently coaching writers worldwide, online, one on one and taking new clients for 2019. Visit my website for more info or write to me at 

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

Mark Cawley iDoCoach 

Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to  USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 23 years in Nashville, TN. Mark is in the process of writing his first book to be released in early 2019 based on his coaching and adventures in songwriting.