I Dare You: A Songwriter’s Challenge

by Marty Dodson
Feb 28, 2023

One of the first things I did when I decided to seriously pursue writing as a career was to attend an NSAI Song Camp. I submitted my application and nervously awaited a response to let me know if I was accepted or not.

Finally, the day came. There in the stack of mail was a letter from NSAI. I opened it excitedly, hoping and praying that I got in. I did not. The letter very politely told me that I didn’t make it in, BUT I was on the waiting list in case someone dropped out.

Several weeks went by and the camp was rapidly approaching. I had given up when I got a call letting me know that someone dropped out and I could come if I still wanted to. It kind of had the feel of a girl telling you that she would love to go to the prom with you, but you were not really her first choice. It hurt a little, but I swallowed my pride and accepted.

Looking back, I’m glad I did. It gave me a great beginning place.

Most importantly, it showed me where the bar is. Once I realized how high the bar is, I was motivated to work even harder to get over it.

One of the instructors said something that has stuck with me to this day. And its concept is one of the foundations on which Clay and I built SongTown.

John Ims, who wrote the hit song “She’s In Love With The Boy” for Trisha Yearwood was teaching a class and someone in the class commented – “Why would you tell someone else everything they need to know to take YOUR job?”

John laughed and said, “I’m telling you everything you need to know and do to take my job. And then I’m going to DARE you to do it.” 

He went on to say that most people he meets don’t want it bad enough to do what he tells them to do.

Clay and I have been amazed at how many of you DO want it that much. We have some amazingly talented writers and some very hard workers. That’s a dangerous combo.

Still, we are trying to share with you everything we know about writing and we DARE you to do it. If you work as hard as we’ve worked and you are as persistent as we have been, you can turn just a little bit of talent into something great. We are living proof of that!

This coming year, kick it into overdrive. Work harder than you have ever worked.

Write more than you have ever written. Do more to improve your writing than you have ever done before. Learn. Grow. Stretch the boundaries of what you do. Get that first (or next) cut.

We dare you.


Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a multi #1 songwriter, co-founder of SongTown, and co-author of  The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Cowriting and Song Building: Mastering Lyric Writing


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