The “Outside Looking In” Game – A Songwriter’s Dream Killer!

by Clay Mills
May 31, 2016

About a year ago, I wrote a post here on the SongTownUSA FB about the power of dreams. I told the story of how, when I was 10 years old, I listened over and over to a record called “Home Free” by Dan Fogleberg… recalling that everyday I looked inside the album at photos of Dan singing in a studio. I love the part of the story of how years later my mom met someone at a high school reunion who was a publisher in Nashville; and he listened to my demos and signed me to my first publishing deal. That publisher owned a studio–you guessed it, the very studio where that ‰Home Free‰ album had been recorded. I loved writing that story, but someone’s comment on that post a year ago has stayed in my mind: “We can’t all have a mom with a friend in the music business!” That’s true! But…

Seldom do we ever see the whole story from the outside looking in. Or as I like to say …playing the “outside looking in” Game

What the commenter (who we‰’ll call “Ben”) didn’t know, was that I arrived in Nashville full of hopes and dreams and excitement about signing my first publishing deal, only to have that publisher go out of business a few months later!  (He’s no longer in the music business at all!) I had to return home dejected that my first and only “deal” fell apart. Ben doesn’t know it took another ten years to get back to Nashville and land another shot at my dream of writing songs for a living!

It’s easy for us to look at someone else’s situation and think they have it easier than us.

We’ve all done it, but I can honestly say I didn’t come from a wealthy family. I had no friends in the music business. And, I was not blessed with an inordinate amount of musical ability. I do know that I have the desire each and every day to work and get better at my craft. Every successful writer I know‰, folks like Marty Dodson‰, have this same desire.

Here at SongTown, we all have our own challenges, limitations, and disadvantages, but we also have the ability to not focus on them. We have, instead, the opportunity to dream, work hard, and accomplish things we never thought possible. It’s our choice. Today, I choose to write on,  and NOT play the outside looking in game!

Write on! Clay

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.


Write Better Songs Faster

Songwriting Success is Clay & Marty's 10-day video series that will help you level-up your songs and finish them faster. Enter your email address to get started!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.