Lessons Learned from a Songwriting Challenge

Friday, September 1, 2023 was the last day of my 10 week 10 song summer song writing program, and I’m really excited to launch the fall 14 week challenge! But first, I want to tell you about some of the lessons I learned from the experience, that I believe are applicable to all artists looking to grow and hone their craft. Here they are:

1. Find creative spaces

Spaces inhabited by people who are invested in growing and bettering their craft are so powerful. If you’re in a slump, or looking for inspiration, get out there and join a community, in real life or online. Surrounding yourself with others who share an interest in music and songwriting may serve to motivate and move you. In the summer songwriting challenge, participants showed up, and were able to connect in a rare and intimate way. It’s a good lesson for artists: always be on the lookout for spaces that feed your growth. 

2. Show vulnerability

When you find yourself among other creative people, try to show up with a bit of vulnerability, and be present with it. Growth happens when you try new things, don’t always get it perfect, and take risks. For some, this means knowing you haven’t nailed the perfect version of your work, and you are open to workshopping it, and taking in feedback. In the summer songwriting challenge, I witnessed participants take these kinds of risks week after week, and produce work that exceeded their own expectations.

3. Shine

Finding your groove and flow as a performer is essential to building a vibrant practice as a singer-songwriter. Take advantage of opportunities to talk about your work, perform your songs, and absorb audience reaction. Find spaces where you can take up space, put yourself out there, and shine! The Songwriter Challenge is designed to be primarily about self-growth and development as an artist, in an environment where you can play your songs and shine for others. Learn about the 14 week challenge, the online concert opportunity, and private platform for the group here

4. Accountability

When possible, set yourself up for success with accountability from others who will reflect on your progress, and help celebrate your growth. Connecting with a mentor, or team, that is there to witness and encourage your development is invaluable. Take your practice seriously and give yourself a regime that works for you, and is challenging. (There is no substitute for consistency!) In the songwriter challenge, participants said they loved the weekly prompt, the accountability, and ongoing opportunity to showcase new work. I can’t wait to do it all again starting Sept 15!

5. Trust yourself

One of the greatest elements of the summer songwriting challenge was that participants said it fostered a structure, and pressure, to experiment with their craft in novel ways. The ‘trust yourself’ muscle is not always the strongest, and yet it is an invaluable one to exercise, especially in a safe and supportive environment. Participants in the songwriting challenge remarked how they drew from within, in ways they hadn’t previously. 

6. The Result

All in all, the result of this challenge was more powerful and more inspiring than I could have imagined. I’d love to tell you more about it.


If you’re eager to explore new horizons in your songwriting journey while being part of a supportive community of fellow artists dedicated to nurturing creativity and growth, look no further. Join us for the next evolution, which goes beyond a songwriting challenge and offers you the chance to thrive as an artist.


Consider registering for the 14 songs, 14 weeks songwriting challenge. Don’t miss this great opportunity. 

Joel Schwartz

Joel Schwartz is a guitarist, music producer of award winning records, and founder of The Studio Songwriter. With 20 years of experience as a professional musician, he produces recordings for contemporary roots, folk, Americana, blues, and indie musicians.