One of the things I love most about being a songwriter is that it is one of the few things in life that you can never totally “figure out”. You can always write a better song than you wrote today. There’s always some new melodic trick or turn of a phrase that you have never encountered before just waiting around the bend. I love that!
I guess I get bored with things you can master. I have been a pro songwriter for nearly 25 years now and I’m still learning weekly if not daily. That keeps me going when I’m frustrated or not seeing the results I want at the moment.
Whenever I have a songwriter come to me and say “I finally got this songwriting thing figured out!”, I always smile and wish them well. It reminds me of a singer I heard being interviewed one time. He was becoming known for his romantic songs and the interviewer asked him how he seemed to connect so well with the ladies. He responded “I think I’ve got them figured out.” I wanted to call him and say “Dude you have NO idea how wrong you are!” Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.
Anytime I start to think I have songwriting or women figured out, someone or something comes along to teach me that I still have a long way to go.
I encourage every songwriter to just own it. You’re never going to completely figure songwriting out. So, the big questions are “How much do you want to learn?” and “Are you willing to spend a lifetime growing and getting better?” Or, are you happy on the plateau you are on?
There’s no harm in either approach, but don’t let yourself believe for a minute that you have mastered songwriting. I haven’t. My mentors haven’t. If you do want to keep getting better as a songwriter, take the “lifetime of learning” approach and consciously look for ways to improve all the time.
Make it a daily discipline to do something that helps you grow as a writer.
For me, I’m always digging for better ideas. I read great authors to learn how they use language. I listen to music that inspires me. I dissect great songs. I watch videos on songwriting. I want to learn everything I can so that my lifetime of learning leads me to songs I never imagined I could write in my 20s.
So, what about you? Are you ready for a lifetime of learning?
Write on! Marty Dodson