1) Diversify – learn to write lots of different kinds of songs. Your goal should be to have a great song that works for every artist.
2) Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. If you can be honest with yourself, you can find people that are strong where you are weak and write better songs immediately.
3) Don’t try to do everything. Don’t go out and buy all of the gear other people have. Figure out what you need and what you do well. Stick to that.
4) There are many kinds of writing deals. I thought publishers would either say “No”, sign me to a writing deal or offer me a single song contract. That is false. You can create your own kind of deal if you are creative and smart.
5) One song can change everything. Several times in my career, things were not going well and one song changed the whole course of my deal and my career. That’s why we say “Keep writing better songs.” Tomorrow’s song could be THE one.
6) Listen to your critics. People who will take the time to give you honest critique of your work are invaluable. They won’t always be right, but they can make you better. Drop your pride and listen.
7) Have fun. Don’t stress so much about holds, cuts, passes, etc. Just enjoy writing.
8) Write the song in the room. In the beginning, I tried to force too many things. Pushing to write uptempos or a song for a certain artist cause me to walk right past a great song begging to be written in the room that day.
9) Don’t blame anyone else for your lack of success. It was tempting early on to blame “the business”, “stupid A&R people”, or anyone else I could find. When I started writing hit songs, they didn’t keep me from getting cuts. I don’t think they got smarter. Maybe I did.
10) Don’t demo everything you write. Spend your money wisely. If I had spent the money I spent on demoing mediocre songs on something that would help me write better songs, I would have progressed more quickly.
Hope those help!