It’s Never Too Late When It Comes To Your Songwriting Dreams

songtown-chasing dreams

I believe that it’s never too late to be what you might have been and to chase your songwriting dreams. In my case, I was in my mid-thirties when I started trying to write professionally. I got a much later start than some others who pursued their songwriting passion right out of high school. But, as it turned out, it didn’t really matter WHEN I started. It only mattered THAT I started. I was able to turn my late start into a long and continued success story. As time has gone by, I realize more and more that my age can be just as much an asset as a liability.

History is full of “late bloomers” who found their success later in life. Ray Kroc was 52 when he started McDonalds. Grandma Moses was 76 when she painted her first canvas. Winston Churchill was a political failure until he finally became Prime Minister at age 62.

If you think about it, you probably know people who got late starts as well. A friend of mine just landed a starring role (Her first) in a movie with some HUGE actors at age 49. She’s living the life she always dreamed of. Someone else I know someone entered medical school at age 52 and got their M.D. at age 58.  

So what’s the point?

Age Is Just A Number

Age doesn’t have to limit you or hold you back. Does it sometimes present obstacles? Yes. But, I have never known of any of those obstacles to be fatal. You’ve probably heard the saying “You’re only old as you feel.” I’m not sure that is accurate. I’d suggest that “You’re only as old as you’re willing to be” might be more accurate. If you accept that you’re in your 60s and people in their 60s don’t start chasing crazy dreams, then you’ll never get started.

However, if you throw off what “they” say and decide that you’re going to take a young person’s approach – you’re going to be fearless, you’ll try knew things, you’ll learn, you’ll throw yourself headlong into your dream chasing – then you have a real chance. You don’t have to accept the societal norms for what people your age can or cannot do.  

Age is just a number and only YOU can decide what to do with that number. And here’s another thing to consider.

Age Can Be An Advantage

I have learned to leverage the advantages of my “maturity” instead of letting myself be weighed down by the disadvantages. Instead of rolling with many of my peers who “can’t stand what’s on the radio”, I listen to it. I study and learn what is working and WHY it is working. I continually try to bring those elements into my writing. My many years on the planet have taught me how to study and learn in ways that 20 somethings have not. I take a more analytical approach to writing. I break things that are working down and I put those tools in my writing toolbox. That is an approach that only comes with age.

Another advantage to age is that you have more stories to tell. 

I was writing with a Hall of Fame songwriter and an 18 year old female artist one day.  The Hall of Fame guy threw out an AMAZING line.  The artist crinkled up her nose and said “I wouldn’t say that.”  I responded, “Why not?  It’s an amazing line.” She replied “It’s just not my story.”  Hall of Fame guy put his guitar down, looked at her and said “Honey, your story is only a little bit of acne and maybe a broken heart or two. You don’t have enough to say just yet if you only tell your story.” He wasn’t being ugly.  He was telling the truth.

Younger people don’t have the richness of life to draw from that those of us who are older have.

I was writing with an artist and a track guy one time. Both were super talented. In fact, she’s now a megastar. They were both in their early twenties. I kept throwing out lines and they kept saying “No, we need something cooler.” I began to get irritated, but I took a deep breath and asked “Can you show me what you mean?” They threw out some lines that didn’t make much sense at all. However, they WERE cool.  

I set my hurt pride aside for a moment and asked “How about you take the lead and keep throwing out cool lines, but you trust me to help you make them make sense?” They laughed and agreed that we needed each other.  I needed them to help me update my “cool factor”, but they also needed my help to craft a lyric that people would understand and relate to.

We struck a deal and it worked out great for all of us. Our songs got great responses because we had the coolness of youth and the wisdom of age working at the same time.

So Where Do You Start?

You are not likely to become a recording artist in your 40’s or later. But it could happen! And, who says you can’t write a hit song in your 50’s or 60′? My friend Bill Anderson has been writing for a long time, but he is still having hits in his 70’s. He’s a life-long learner. Today there are books by pro songwriters like Song Building and Mastering Melody Writing to help you improve your craft. SongTown has hundreds of hours of video on almost every topic imaginable. The resources are there to learn and grow, no matter your current writing level.

Just start where you are.  Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t beat yourself up because you’re older or you got a late start.  Just– begin. Reach out to people you know in the business – like myself or Clay Mills.  We started SongTown to help people like you.

We recently had two members in their 60s write the #1 song on the Texas Country Chart. Another member in her 70s is getting cuts right and left.  Another member in his 60s had a #1 song in Australia.  People of ALL ages are writing and succeeding. You can too.

If you have a dream and you’ve started late, don’t give up. Your success is probably limited more by your own doubts than it is by the number that follows your name.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t reach your goals or capture your songwriting dreams.

Prove the skeptics wrong. Do what they say can’t be done. Break new ground. Somebody will do it. It might as well be you.  You never know when success is just around the corner.

At the end of the day, no one cares how old the man or woman is who wrote Katy Perry’s latest hit. They are listening for a great song.

So, forget about your age.

Be it “too young” or “too old”, just write great songs. Refuse to be defined by your age. You are only as old or as young as you choose to be.

Forget the number– and write on!

Marty

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.

18 thoughts on “It’s Never Too Late When It Comes To Your Songwriting Dreams

  1. Thank you, I’ve always loved music, and recently i’ve entered my 40’s, and feel my ship has sailed, and perhaps it has, but I can’t give up. I really appreciate this, if my pessimism gets the best of me, I surely won’t have any fun writing songs!

  2. David, it’s not easy to do anything at a high level. At any age! That doesn’t mean someone should give up because it’s hard. or it’s harder than… xyzzy. I got my first hit as a writer in my 40’s. I know people who have started in their 50’s. The point is, to have fun and develop your passions. it tends to make this one chance we have at life, a lot more rewarding 🙂

    Cheers, Clay Mills

  3. Marty, I’ve got about 40 songs written. Mostly recorded on CD. How can I convert to another format which can then be heard digitally on the newer platforms?

    Thanks in advance,

    David
    Songwriter

  4. I always say, “If you’ll use age as an excuse, then you’ll use anything as an excuse.” And that’s all it is.

    You have a brain . Use it. I want to do exciting, interesting things in life. I’m not curling up and waiting to die. So who cares? I don’t.

    Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have a song to write. It popped into my head last night and will not leave me alone!

  5. ‘You are not likely to become a recording artist at age 40 or over, but it COULD happen’

    Thanks, brilliant encouraging advice. Cheers

  6. So glad i read this post and the comments too. Really encouraged me to press on and write as i feel and not try to make it fit with whats current. Iv never been gd at following the crowd anyway thankfully. Jus wish i could find a way to move forward. Gd luck to all you budding songwriters xx

  7. Thinking how this not only applies to me as a 41 year old (busy pastor of pretty large church who is very fulfilled in life, but has never quit writing songs on the side & been able to shake that dream) but also to my 14 year old daughter who’s already kicking my butt in songwriting & how I need to really really take her seriously. Great great advice sir.

  8. I so needed to read this. I have been trying out some of my songs at an open mic night where my silver hair sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the much younger players who probably don’t know what a cassette tape is. This gave me some much needed encouragement. Thank you!

  9. “You get old, you get wise, you get great big baggy eyes” (-John Kruth) You’re so right, I ain’t gonna quit. Right now I’m working with a lot of younger writers. They are always amazed at how many different styles of music I work in. I tell them, don’t worry about style. That’s just fashion. Write the song the way it needs to get written. If you try to follow the market you’re always going to be copying something that just got popular, and by the time your version of it gets heard, it will be all used up. Make something new to replace what’s popular now. It’s just like getting old… you have to stay comfortable in your skin, and you have to move forward.

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