Arriving: In Life And Songwriting



The longer I live and the more I write, the more I realize that there really is no “destination” in life, unless it is death.


Short of the grave, we are all still on the journey, trying to figure out the world and our place in it.

In regard to writing, we all (or most of us anyway) have hopes, plans and dreams.

We have places we want to go. Things we want to achieve. Accomplishments we want to grasp before we leave the planet.

There is no aspect of my music career that has gone according to my plans. I’ve determined that I may not be smart enough to come up with a plan for life or a career and that, perhaps, I do my best work when I just take each day for what it is.

I have dropped most of my destination ideas and I simply try to enjoy the journey every day.

No plans. I have vague goals out there, but I’m not going to be devastated if I don’t reach them or elated if I do. This morning I was profoundly happy to wake up and write a song that I’m proud of with someone I enjoy working with.

I had a great day. In the big picture, it really doesn’t matter if the song I wrote today gets cut or not.

If I was happy and satisfied when the day was over, I’ve succeeded today. Tomorrow, if I get a chance to do it again, I will soak it all in and make the most of it.

My hope is that some of those songs get recorded. But, that’s not the end game. The end game is a life of day-by-day happiness and satisfaction.

If you find yourself paralyzed by destinations that seem too far away to reach…

…allow yourself the freedom of dropping the ideas of destination and plans in exchange for peace and satisfaction today.

When I think of “arriving” as making it to the grave, then I’m in no hurry to get there. I want to take my time and savor every moment that I’m given. Each day that brings me happiness and peace is a successful day.

Don’t worry about where your writing takes you in the end. Enjoy it today. Make the most of it. Dig deep and open your heart. Bleed for it. And grant yourself the gift of looking back on a day well spent as you write on.

Write on! MD

Marty Dodson - pro songwriter/instructor - SongTown

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

29 thoughts on “Arriving: In Life And Songwriting

  1. Marty, this is as good as anything I’ve read and just about all we need to know. As far as I’m concerned so well conceived it might have been etched on the ultimate Golden Record, the outer space probe Voyager’s Golden Record launched by NASA in 1976, still probing space. Truly inspiring man. Things like this make me glad to be a citizen of this Town, with hope to write a better song.

  2. Marty and all..
    It’s been over a year since your original posting however it is brand new to me. Reading it for the first time today I found similarities between what you have to say and the way I live.. Keep the dream alive.

  3. Yourr sttyle iis so unique in comparison tto other people
    I’ve read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this web site.

  4. Marty

    I really relate to this article and it’s so important for me to remember what you are saying.

  5. Marty, such a wonderful thing to read before I go to sleep. I’m just getting started with being more serious about my writing, and I’m older than most are at this stage of the game. I don’t know if I could ever have a shot at writing a hit song but I do dream of it, like most. I do often wish I had gotten more serious with my writing at a younger age. I can’t help but wish I were younger now with more time to do this wonderful creative and expressive thing called song writing. The thing that I can do to make someone smile or feel something they might not have without hearing my song. That said, I always try to remember that life, every day is just a journey of soaking it all in and making each day the best possible day. And writing a decent song makes it even better. Thanks for the peace and wise words.

    1. Thanks Marty and Clay,
      Thanks for constantly counseling us… we need it!!!
      I’m just learning this too! No more misplaced dependency on getting a hit song…just like finding Mr, or Mrs. Right, we need to be patient…trust the Lord, and realize that a lot of prayers are being sent up there asking for that same thing… and knowing that He hears each and every one of them!
      ( I wonder how God hears and answers all those prayers?)
      So I’m gonna be content… enjoy my writing, my husband, my kids, my Grandkids, my Co- Writers and this AMAZING TOWN of writers!!! I love you all!!! God Bless us EVERYONE!!!!😊🙏💖🎶

  6. Good thoughts, Marty. I live by an outline now, not firm plans. As long as the compass points North, that is firm enough for me.

  7. Brilliant! The process really is its own reward — and this isn’t just some New Age bullshit. … And some good songs get written anyway.

  8. Thank you for posting this!
    I write what I feel, when I feel it, and I’m always asking myself, “Where is my writing taking me?”
    This post put it in perspective.
    This past year I have started taking my writing more seriously, and I write every day. I have been told that I will never be taken seriously as a songwriter because I don’t play an instrument. I know a few chords, but that’s about it. Writing what I feel and singing come more natural to me than playing an instrument, so When I get my guitar out to practice I always end up putting it down to write and record melody ideas on my phone. Music has always been in my soul, so when I write there’s always a beat or melody I’m writing to in my head. I’ve tried to stop writing and focus on other career paths, but I found myself back in college writing poems w/a song vision in mind, instead of doing my homework…lol
    Writing is my therapy, and I can only hope I’m lucky enough to make a career out of it someday.
    I might be a dreamer, but you and Clay inspire me to keep dreaming!
    Every time I read a post from Songtown I get inspired. Thank you for that!

  9. I live it just like you do Marty.I don’t sweat it.It is what it is.Never had one song of mine played on the radio.I likely won’t.It gets heard online Dat’s good enough for me.

  10. Great article! I’d love to take the Co-writing Workshop, unfortunately the scheduled time is not appropriate for me. Do you plan for a follow up maybe at Berlin friendly hours? Keep on doing the good work! Love you

  11. Marty, I really needed this today! After getting a cut last Fall with my co-writer, things seemed to have stalled out. I have a song I wrote that I believe in that isn’t being fought over. Imagine that! So, thank you for this meditation and for helping me to re-center and to celebrate all of life’s blessings. Everyday.

  12. Amen, brother. I stressed in my songwriting journey for a while. It was so hard to up my level of writing to get closer to professional levels that I started losing my joy for music. After hearing you and others say variations on this theme, I started sitting down each day and playing and learning songs that brought me joy and reminded me of what I love about songs and songwriting, my mojo started to return.

    All I have control over is the songs I write or co-write, the relationships I make and the time and effort I put in. The rest is up to God, the Universe or chance.

  13. What a great article Marty…needed to hear this today. Some days are just really tough juggling the day job, family, and the songwriting. This puts some perspective on the whole process for me.

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