I started writing songs when I was 11 years old. They were predictably bad, but heartfelt. Many were dedicated to girls in the neighborhood that I wished would notice me. If I could go back and talk to that little 11 year old guy, here are 5 things I’d tell him about songwriting.
Being a real songwriter is hard and stressful. It will take WAY longer than you think it will to succeed. But it will be the best job you can ever imagine.
There are no real shortcuts.
I’d tell him that he needs to read every songwriting book, learn to play guitar better and learn everything he can about the craft of songwriting if he wants to succeed. The only way to do it will be through hard work, persistence and learning. He probably wouldn’t have listened, but I’d tell him anyway.
Don’t be afraid.
That 11 year old dreamed of being a songwriter, but was scared to death to try it, even though he lived in Nashville. That fear cost him dearly. 4 years of college and 10 years of working in a profession he didn’t love later, he finally found the courage to go for it. I would tell him to chase the dream from the start and skip the 14 years of preparing for something else.
It’s not about the money.
I would tell him that the greatest joy he will find will be in going into a room with another creative person every day and ending the day with a brand new song. I would try to help him see that the joy is in the creating, not in the responses to the creations or the money that might follow.
Don’t be in a hurry.
I’d try to help him learn how to slow down and take it all in. From the crushing rejection in the beginning to the #1 parties, it all has value and it is all a vital part of the journey to who he would become. I’d encourage him to celebrate ALL of it.
And, I might thrown in a sixth one.
I’d probably tell him, “Don’t let the little girl down the street get you down. There’s a girl growing up across town that will be just perfect.” Who knew?
Write on! Marty