Songwriting can be a wonderfully, beautifully frustrating pursuit. But it can be especially maddening if your singular goal is something outside of your control.
So, let’s say your one obsession is a Bruno Mars cut. There are several reasons that you are going to likely spend the rest of your life banging your head on the wall and cursing the day you ever tried to be a songwriter. For sake of brevity, I won’t list them all, but the primary reason is that you can’t MAKE Bruno like any of your songs. And if he doesn’t like them, you’ll never get a Bruno cut.
So, I wanted to run through some alternatives to goals that are outside of your control. Considering these “what ifs” might just help you get closer to your goal than you ever imagined.
What if #1
What if, instead of focusing on getting a Bruno Mars cut, you just set out to write the best album Bruno ever produced, whether or not he ever hears one of those songs? Imagine taking your love for Bruno’s music and just focusing on writing songs that YOU love in his style? Would you have any less chance of getting a cut with him? Would you have more fun since you are not SO focused on him cutting one? My guess is that the fun would go up, the songs would be better, and you would have more satisfaction with your songwriting, regardless of the commercial success they did or did not achieve.
What if #2
What if you took some days off from your “Bruno album mission” and just wrote some songs you love without worrying about them fitting ANYONE? Would that take you any farther away from your goals? What would that do for your sanity? And for your enjoyment? Writing for YOU can be therapeutic AND it can result in some songs that are shockingly good and commercial at times. (Unless what you love is bluegrass/polka. That can be hard to place.)
What if #3
What if you JUST made your goal “Writing Better Songs” and every day you focused on that? How would that feel? What would that do to the quality of your songs? What would that do for your chances of success as a songwriter? Again, my guess is that relieving yourself of the pressure of getting a cut on a huge artist would make writing more fun. And focusing on getting better IS within your control and it increases your chances of success in every way.
In a former life, I led groups of teenagers on hiking trips in the rockies. On one trip, a 9th grade student who was 6’8″ and had not yet “grown into” his body was scared to death that he was going to fall off a cliff while we hiked to the summit of a 14,000 ft mountain. He did survive the hike and as we were sitting on the summit, I asked “Wasn’t the view on the way up amazing?” He said, “This is all I saw” as he raised one size 18 hiking boot. He spent the journey looking at his feet, but he took that last step and realized he was 14,000 ft in the sky.
Looking at the summit is intimidating. Overwhelming at times. But, if you take it step by step, you might just look up one day and discover that you are on top of the mountain.
Write On! ~Marty
Co-Founder SongTown/Songwriter/Producer/Part-Time Philosopher