Songwriting

Slaying Your Creative Dragons

by Clay Mills
Jul 20, 2016

For centuries tales of Monster Dragons have been told in folklore, art, and in the last century, motion pictures. As kids, we believe Dragons are REAL! They seem like giant fire spitting creatures with bulging eyes—unbeatable. But as we grow older, we realize they aren’t real. Monster Dragons are made up, and they lose their magical power of us.

When I turned 19, dreaming of pursuing a career of songwriting and singing, I moved to New York City. After a few years, I found myself fortunate to be programming tracks in a recording studio and making a good living doing demos and recordings of OTHER PEOPLE’S music. I told myself I’d get to my own music one day. I longed to write, but at the end of the day, I was just too tired after work to write. If I had an off day at the studio, I gave into every distraction in the book instead of writing my own songs! One day I woke up at 30 years old and realized I had helped other people bring their music to life for 10 years!! I felt good about that, but the one thing I dreamed of doing, writing songs, I never got around to.

I took a hard look at why, and realized, overtime, when I thought of chasing my own dreams, I saw dragons. A dragon that said, “You aren’t good enough.” A dragon that whispered, “You have a good paying job, don’t throw that away.” Dragons that arose every time I had a chance to pursue my dreams. My Big Dragon? My dad’s voice telling me I was too lazy and I was never going to get anywhere in life if I spent all my time playing music. I know he meant well and wanted me to have a good secure life, but that dragon breathed fire and fear into my spirit every time I thought about going for a songwriting career. Songwriting was too risky. At least a recording studio had real clients who paid the bills: big companies like ad agencies. And I worked around the clock to prove to myself and my dad I was not lazy!

It took me another two years to slay my first Dragon- write five songs, record them, and play them for a publisher in Nashville. To my shock, the publisher loved my songs and wanted to hear more. With that victory came a glimmer of confidence, and I began to mow down Dragons with a vengeance! Eight years later, at the young age of 40, I had my first of three #1 songs! I still find that, each step of the way on this journey, there are more dragons, but now I know they aren’t real. My creative Dragons are made up tales in my own mind. Today, I have cleared the path to create.

Write On! Slay On!  ~CM

Clay Mills

Clay Mills

Clay Mills is a 16-time ASCAP hit songwriter, producer, and performer. He is the co-founder of SongTown and has 2 Grammy nominations for “Beautiful Mess” by Diamond Rio and “Heaven Heartache” by Trisha Yearwood. Clay is also the co-author of Mastering Melody Writing and The Songwriter’s Guide To Mastering Co-writing.

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