Music Business

Is Songwriting A Dream or A Plan?

by Marty Dodson
Nov 13, 2016

In a mentoring session the other day, I was helping a young songwriter who felt like she was really floundering around in pursuit of her dream.  She talked about how frustrating it was to tell whether or not she was making progress and how difficult it is to tell what she should be doing differently to get ahead.

I told her that 99% of the people I mentor have the same questions.  Since it’s such a common ailment, I have spent a good amount of time applying my psychology degree to figure out why so many people feel this way and how I got out of that mentality earlier in my career.

A dream is not a goal…

The big issue I discovered is that a dream is really a goal.  It’s a destination that you would like to arrive at someday.  That’s not measurable.  Neither does it provide any instruction on how you get to this beautiful destination.  It’s simply a wish.  Saying “I want to be a professional songwriter” is like saying “I want to go to Australia.”  Except that, if I say I want to go to Antarctica, it’s easier to see what I need to do to get there.

Be specific in your planning…

If I really wanted to go to Australia (an actual goal of mine), I understand that I’m going to have to do some very specific things in order to make that happen.  I would:

  1. Find out how much it’s going to cost me
  2. Begin saving my money
  3. Check with friends to find out the best places to go and stay
  4. Block out some dates on my calendar to go
  5. Make my reservations

It would be easy to tell if I’m making progress.  Have I researched the costs?  Am I saving my money?   Do I know where to go and stay?  Have I cleared my calendar?  Do I have reservations?  In essence, I’ve turned my dream into a plan that is measurable with goals I can check off.  I haven’t done any of those things, so my Aussie dreams are not coming true.

Songwriting is no different.  If you want the dream to come true, you have to have a plan that is measurable and that gets you where you want to be.  So, as I’ve done many times in mentoring sessions, the young writer and I started working on her plan.  She’s now got a list of things that she can measure that will keep her moving in the direction of her goal and she’s not mired down in the quicksand wondering what to do to make it happen.

Turn your dream into a plan.  That’s the only way it’s going to come true.  And, if you need help, give us a shout.

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson

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

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