Encouragement for Songwriters: Why Writing What You Know Is Good Advice For Success
Many of the writers we work with come to us a little bit traumatized because of some “well meaning” advice they have gotten along the way.
In chasing the Top 40 charts, songwriters are told a variety of things, one being that they are writing the wrong style, too old, dated or worse.
Many times this advice is given by caring industry pros who want to save fledgling writers the heart break of continuing rejection, and some are perhaps motivated by self interest of various kinds.
But there’s a problem with all this criticism – it doesn’t always help the writer to improve.
In fact, sometimes it is so discouraging to the tender new writer that it can cause them to quit writing songs all together.
While that may mean less competition for those getting the cuts, it also spells disaster for the individual writer whose unique contribution is now stifled and choked from the wrong kind of motivation.
What’s the solution?
People say toughen up, you have to have thick skin to be in this business.
But in a time of so much pain and disaster, a tender heart overflowing with love and the devotion it takes to attempt written self expression at all is remarkable.
Can we really afford to crush that delicate flowering?
Instead, it’s important for new writers (and old ones) to consider our purpose in writing.
Is it just to get hits on the Top 40?
Or is it something else also?
Is it pain? Do you have feelings overflowing?
Thoughts and melody running through your head to the point of ridiculousness?
Don’t stifle yourself and your creativity listening to other people’s advice.
People will tell you all kinds of things, and if it hurts, it’s most likely fear based.
There is no room in songwriting for fear. One must power through this temporary obstacle.
Song writing is a rarified art form.
It distills all the subtlety of poetry, and the story telling of a novel into a three minute slice of life that has the power to impact the world’s music listening audiences.
Few other art forms have that kind of power and reach.
And yet, the highest levels of success seem ever out of reach, even for those of us with hits.
For the individual writer there is but one solution – dig in and write what you know.
Don’t think your songs – write them, live them, be them – let them come from a place within that is beyond the reach of others to critique – that is – others may criticize them, but nothing they say can touch you, because you know the value of what is given.
Elvis was rejected for years, ridiculed for his outlandish fashion and unconventional style.
Garth Brooks was told no one wanted him at Country Music Fan Fair the year he showed up anyway and broke all the records for signing autographs.
Bonnie Raitt struggled in obscurity until she finally had her big breakthrough hit in her 40s.
What is your music success story?
You are writing it right now.
Throw away every discouraging piece of advice you have ever received. Put it out with the garbage (no recycling for this one).
Begin again to write what your heart dictates. No one else.
The song you write today might not be your magnum opus, but with time and daily writing, you will eventually write something remarkable.
And when you do, you can thank yourself and all those heartaches of the past for giving you the gift that no one can ever take from you – your own mind and unique experience – and the heart to write about it.
Do it now. Set a timer and write for 5 minutes about what you know.
Send us a note when you’re ready to power up your writing skills to the next level.