If I Can Become A Pro Songwriter, YOU Can Too!


In many ways, I am the least likely person to become a hit songwriter.

I grew up with serious self-esteem issues.  I’ve always been short and was self-conscious about it most of my life.  I was never popular in school.  I am painfully shy and introverted.    I grew up believing that you should ALWAYS make the safe choice.

So, how in the world did I become a hit songwriter?

For me, it was a process.  I believe it began with dissatisfaction.  When the pain of being shy, afraid and self conscious became greater than the pain of trying something new, I gained the courage to step out and take some risks.

My first ventures into the unknown were baby steps.

You would probably laugh if I told you what they were.  But, for me, they were HUGE steps.  I did some things that scared me.  Looking back, it’s laughable that they scared me, but they did.  They terrified me.  But, I lived through them and that gave me strength to keep broadening my horizons.

Each little victory helped me see that failure wasn’t fatal and that risk had rewards.

I felt better about myself when I tried new things – even when I didn’t do well.  The first time I played the Bluebird, I totally forgot how the bridge of my song went.  It was gone from my brain.  I was sweating bullets, but I said “If you want to know how the bridge goes, you’ll have to get the demo from my publisher – he’s right over there.”  Everyone laughed and I moved on.  I screwed up – BUT I played the Bluebird.  I learned that people are cheering FOR me, not against me.    And I left there stronger than when I walked in the building, even though I didn’t perform well.

In the beginning, I got literally hundreds of rejections.

They were crushing at times, but I was stronger than the rejection.  I lived through it.  I proved people wrong.  Several publishers who rejected me wound up asking me to write with their writers after I had hits.

Little by little, I began to believe in myself and my ability.

I took control of my life.  I embraced who I am, how tall I am and WHO I am.  And, I’ve learned to welcome failure as a learning tool.  I’m happy.  Whether or not I get another song recorded – I’m happy.  I believe that the self acceptance and happiness allow me to write my best songs.  I’m writing better than ever and enjoying it more than ever.

If you ever struggle with the “Am I good enough” question, I encourage you to stop and wrestle with the big question while you let the little questions take a break.  You are good enough.  You have what it takes.

Your worst enemy is your self-doubt.

Go to battle with THAT and you will have the ultimate victory.


Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter and co-founder of SongTown USA

35 thoughts on “If I Can Become A Pro Songwriter, YOU Can Too!

  1. Wow it really feels good to know that someone has gone through some of the same things as myself and was able to turn it around for their greater good.
    I’m really happy that I took the time to read this post.Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. I think most people can! If we are all honest and open with each other, we can fight those things together.

  2. What a beautiful message, and it rings so true for me. I truly believe if we can get past fear and self-doubt, even if we have to fake it before we make it, that we can do and/or become anything that we want to be. Like you said, Marty, tiny baby steps no matter how small or silly they may seem, one day at a time, add up in our personal “confidence banks”, where After not too long we can turn to and withdraw strength from as we transform and become anything we want to be. Carlos Castaneda said it years ago; if we INTEND to become something, we can become whatever we want. Sure, it takes a bit of blind faith, but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by going for it. Transformation is beautiful, and the feelings of self-love by doing it are priceless.
    Man, you got me going here Marty, this is such important stuff. Thanks for bringing this subject up; keeping it green is so important.

    1. So true, Ave. And so much of life hinges on the way we view ourselves. Thanks for sharing your heart here as well.

  3. Thank goodness for positive mentors like you, you give us the push to get through the doldrums – thank you Marty! Regards Andy Z

  4. I can definately relate even though I’ve had some cuts Jason Aldean and a few others I still find myself 2nd guessing myself if I haven’t had any action in awhile .My simple answer is never stop writing the stars always seem to align again at some point thanks for the great comments and words of inspiration!

  5. Thanks Marty! I’m at home with some suddenly thrusted health issues that may well demand a career change. My songwriting is my consistancy through it all, and quite possibly where God is leading all of this. Sure do appreciate you and Clay’s take on it all!

  6. Well the Aldean cut was a bonus track called Aint No Easy Way but I was happy to get it and Andy Griggs Tears And Time thx Marty again for your words of wisdom!

  7. You are such an old soul, Marty, I never would have guessed you ever had self-doubt. That you overcame it and shared this with us is a testament to you and such a help to all of us. I thought you were born Yoda!

  8. Likewise from Nancy’s post. Marty. You are so self confident now I can hardly believe shyness was ever an issue for you? I’m learning it takes perseverance to keep going in the face of consistent rejection from publishers. Thanks to you, Clay and the rest of SongTown community I am learning more every day, and working at writing better songs to be competitive.

  9. Marty – thanks for sharing such intamacies with us. It’s inspiring when someone with such credibility and your record of success gets down to the bone with honesty and passion. Peace, Bantu

  10. Thanks Marty! You’re an inspiration. I REALLY needed to read this. Extremely helpful. Believing in ourselves is sometimes the hardest part of being an Artist. The rejection is so constant, but celebrating the ‘wins’ we have now and then, is what fuels the fire. Thanks for reminding me that I have what it takes. What you’re doing is so special and deeply valuable to so many. Thanks Marty! Michael

  11. Marty, Thank you so much for sharing this incredible message. This is really personal and you allowed us to see a vulnerable side of you that is so awesome and inspiring. I can relate to this more than you can imagine and I so appreciate you sharing it with me and others. I not only truly admire you as a songwriter but also as a person who had come to terms with great personal demons and turned them around for amazing purpose. Thank you!

  12. Thanks for this Marty, me too, short guy, quiet, reserved, even though I have played in very popular cover bands for 40 years as the guitar player, I have never sang or published a song but I thought, as I was pushing 60 but still had a lot of youth and all my hair! ha ha , I thought I must know a little about what makes a good song because I have played the top 40 as a cover band for so many years. What I am saying here is that I am going through this stage that you talk about right now, many rejections, many people saying that they can’t even slot my music into a named style ???, and many saying that my singing and the songs don’t fit in todays “style” of music, lol … to me, I almost feel that all this is really good news because its music that must be different. I even read that David Bowie went through the same feelings and I think he never really lost them, that is why he changed his name and “acted” the part of “Bowie” in order to get over his own fears. So thanks for this article, I have not written a song for the last 4 weeks, sort of wondered why I was even doing it but the old ACID PRO and the guitar amp has just been turned on again! Cheers: Kodey Woodlands. Here is a link to the strange songs that keep getting rejected, lol …

  13. Thank you for this honest and inspiring post! It’s sometimes easy to forget that people who are successful and have cashed in on their dreams started off in the same place as us – scared and insecure. It was important for me to hear it from a pro-songwriter that being willing to take the risk is the first step, and that overcoming failure is a hurdle on the road to success. Especially when the very thought of failure often makes me afraid to take the risk and doubt in my abilities is what keeps me from improving them.

  14. Thank you Marty for being so honest. I’ve had (have) many of those same fears. I’m almost deathly afraid of failure. Songtown is gradually helping me overcome that fear as I allow my songs to be heard and critiqued. I’m getting a much later start than you, but no time like the present, right?


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