5 Things I Wish My Amateur Songwriting Self Had Known

by Marty Dodson
Mar 13, 2024

If I could go back and mentor my younger songwriting self, I could help him avoid a lot of the disappointments he experienced and help him succeed much faster. So, I thought I’d share some of the wisdom I would give to him with you. Here we go:

It takes a LONG time to become world class at anything.

Just because friends and family like your writing doesn’t mean that it’s anywhere close to being commercially competitive. Buckle up, plan to be in this for the long haul and don’t expect quick success.

Co-writing is like dating.

You have to go through lots of “not the ones” to find THE one. Even though co-writing can be frustrating, it’s most likely your ticket to yourself. Without co-writers, you have to do everything to succeed all by yourself. That’s a lonely existence. Keep co-writing and finding out what sorts of skills in a co-writer compliment your own best.

You aren’t going to be world-class at everything.

Pick one thing and become great at that. Find other people who are already great in the other areas. That will elevate your writing quicker than anything else you can do.

A bad co-write probably means you need to take a look at yourself and the way you work with people.

A great writer can write a great song with almost anyone. So, if my co-writes are falling flat, I need to look in the mirror and see how I can become a better collaborator. (My first publisher told me “a hit writer can write a hit with anyone.” Good advice. It’s easy to blame co-writers for your failures.)

Starting out in any new business is hard.

Nobody starts at the top. You wouldn’t expect to get out of law school and be named a partner in a major law firm. You have to work your way up and it takes years. It’s the same with songwriting. Dig in and keep learning. That’s the only chance you’ve got. Hard work and preparation are the keys to success.

There you have it. If my younger self had known those things, he would have started getting cuts sooner and would have eliminated a LOT of headaches.

Write on! ~Marty

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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