Arguing For Your Limitations: Are You Keeping Yourself From Getting That First Song Recorded?

I’ve been reading a book called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat, Pray, Love”, that was given to me by SongTownian Lance Sims. In the first few pages of the book, Ms. Gilbert writes…

“If you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them.”

That hit me squarely between the eyes. I can’t count the number of times in the past that I have done exactly that. “I can’t play volleyball”. “I’m no good at art.” “My songs aren’t good enough to play for anyone.”

Defending weaknesses will strengthen them… And make them true!

I can’t play volleyball if I WON’T play volleyball. I won’t get a song cut if I don’t ever play them for anyone. The list goes on and on.

Turns out, I’m ok at volleyball and it’s fun to play, I am decent at painting abstracts, and my songs are good enough to play for people. Who knew?

The only thing that changed for me was getting rid of the debilitating fear that had held me hostage for years. I was afraid to do much of anything unless I was guaranteed success. I was a perfectionist and a coward.

When I finally decided that the pain I was feeling from NOT doing things was greater than the pain of trying and failing, I was set free.

Not instantly. Not magically. Day by day. Courageous choice by courageous choice – I changed me.

In the days since, I have failed a lot. And failure wasn’t fatal. In fact, most of the time, it was a great learning experience that led me to some other type of success.

Most of the good things I have experienced in life have come from taking chances and being courageous. I’m not turning back.

If you have defended your limitations, I challenge you to choose courage over fear.

You don’t have to quit your job and become a songwriter, but step out. Play your music for people. Take chances on co-writes. Do those things that scare you most.

Defy your self-imposed limitations and LIVE.

Write On! Marty

marty dodson-hit songwriter

Marty Dodson is a multi-hit songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing


24 thoughts on “Arguing For Your Limitations: Are You Keeping Yourself From Getting That First Song Recorded?

  1. Marty, i have written over 500 songs in the 40 years that i have been writing, I have made demos at home on a DAW and I use Band In A Box for music. Is this good enough to send to a producer, like yourself, or do I need to get it done by a pro? I have never did anything with my songs except play them locally.People are always telling me I have a great talent, but I have my doubts. Please help me as I value your input.

  2. I was given the book “Big Magic” and can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I sure do believe we should challenge ourselves to go beyond our limitations and regardless of what might happen, it gives us courage and faith to keep going and eventually finding success. Actually, success along the way too.

    Always enjoy your wisdom Marty.

    Jude Toy

  3. This is 100% me. I bet everything I own that I’m the biggest coward in SongTown. A few examples:
    * I’m 35 years old and I’ve never even driven a car. Terrified of dying or even worse, killing someone
    * I’ve never done anything potentially dangerous (skydiving, bungee jumping, skiing, jetskiing…)
    * I have a good college degree since 6 years back, but I’m totally wasting it. I’ve maybe applied for 10 jobs and gotten no feedback.
    * I’ve worked for the same uninspired and dead-end job at a supermarket for 13 years.
    * I’ve non of my songs recorded by artists (only a few demos) after 10 years of writing.

    I’m stuck.

    And since the pandemic hit in March, I haven’t been able to write a single word…

    1. Several years ago I had a very successful songwriter tell me when you get a block write in a different style. It will break the damn in your head and creative juices will flow

  4. Thanks so much for this! You just summed up the current theme of my life. No more room for cowardly hiding in fear of not being perfect. Little brave steps each day – creating a new story… So wonderful to relate to others on this. Much appreciated!

  5. 100% to all of this, thank you. And got to read this on my birthday! A good reminder to keep pushing myself and growing.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing Marty you have such an inspiring story and it’s helped me a great deal

    Thanks again

  7. Got me on this one. I’ve been rather paralyzed by this the past few months. Guess there’s nothing to do except post a song and try to get past it.

  8. I’ve been at this a while. There are a lot of people/organizations offering courses, methods and advice. Some are good but nothing I’ve seen matches SongTown’s comprehensive set of instructions, feedback and community. I feel like Marty and Clay offer a clear path to success for anyone willing to humbly hunker down and do the work. I’m excited about finding SongTown and forever grateful to the co-writer who recommended it to me.

  9. Lets be realistic though because I read many examples of song lyrics
    on Song Sites that are pretty uninspiring, simply because the composer
    has not studied what it takes to write a hit song

    On top of that they waste time defending something that is doomed from the start
    because of a clear lack of ability

    If these same beginners took the time to study and read the many VG Books
    written by people who have been there so to speak it could be so different

    Does your song lyrics sing well ? all the best lyrics are written for the ear
    not the Eye

    1. Good points. At SongTown our members are all about learning to be the best writers they can be… AND to help others get better. That’s why our members are charting on radio, signing staff writer deals with publishers, and record deals. There’s no other community like SongTown.


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