Who Can Stop You From Writing Songs?

writing songs, guitar, notebook, pen


“Who can stop you from writing songs?”

I think that’s a valid question for every songwriter to ask themselves from time to time.

On occasion, I hear songwriters say things like… “It’s not really worth writing a song if I can’t get a publisher to listen.” Or “Why bother writing another song no one will ever hear?” Or even “It’s so hard to get on the Billboard Charts or make money with music these days.”

When I hear those comments I challenge the writers to examine their motivation for writing.

So, I’ll ask you the same questions I ask them.  Maybe they will cause you to think about your own motivation.

Would you keep writing if you knew you’d never make a dollar with your music?

  • Is your motivation solely based on money, or would you keep writing for other reasons even if it never paid off?
  • Could lack of publisher interest make you give up?  Do you really want to give them that much power?
  • Does the size of the potential audience for your music factor in to your decision to write?  If you play your song for someone you love and THEY love it, is that as satisfying as 60,000 people you don’t know hearing it at a concert?  If few people ever hear your songs, does that make them less valuable or meaningful in your life?
  • Is your interest in writing affected by how hard or easy it is to get a song cut?  If it’s hard, do you just quit, or do you work harder?

So, I ask you, “Who can stop you from writing songs?”

The answer I’d like to suggest is that there is only 1 person in the world who can stop you.  Look in the mirror and you’ll see their pretty face.  If you want to write songs – if writing songs feeds your soul – if you will keep writing songs no matter what comes your way, then you are on the road to a happy fulfilling songwriting journey. It’s all about a healthy songwriter’s mindset.

Success in the music business generally comes to those who are on THAT journey, not those who are chasing money, or fame or an easy career.

If you set your mind to it, you’re unstoppable.  That’s good news in my book.

Write on! MD

Marty Dodson - pro songwriter/instructor - SongTown

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

23 thoughts on “Who Can Stop You From Writing Songs?

  1. If somebody told me that I could only carry on writing if I made money from it, I’d probably give up and find another hobby. All that non-writing stuff that an aspiring pro has to do would just grind me down, even more than the day job I hated but stuck with for thirty years.

  2. Writing lyrics and songs has been a highlight of my life. Even now at 60, I write almost daily. I’ve written over 1100 lyrics and have enjoyed being able to play my songs occasionally in my cover bands and sell a few CDs on the internet but it’s my hobby not my source of income. There is no pressure, no deadlines, no management making demands. Money is not why I do it.

  3. I think writing has gotten even more fun, the more I’ve learned about writing better here. Now I can really explore and find the joy in going in new melody and lyric directions. When I go somewhere more interesting and compelling, a little farther and deeper, it’s so addicting. I don’t want an intervention, but a few bucks would be nice. 🙂 thanks for your passionate perspective, Mr. D.

  4. I was starting to feel this way. Then I started thinking “I have been a songwriter long before I even knew there was a possibility that someone would publish one of my songs. So I will not let my lack of “success” thwart my desire to write. It’s very easy, for me at least, to start comparing ability, talent, success stories and get discouraged. There has to be a conscious decision to use these communities as learning forums as well as encouragement instead of comparison.

  5. Holy crap Marty, you’re such a nice guy. It’s inspirational messages like yours that people go to heaven for! Your motivation produces more creative people everyday and THAT’s exactly what this planet needs! I’ve been in the creative business for over 43 years and need no motivation… I am eternally grateful for that! But still appreciate your insight and positive messages. Thank you kindly.

  6. Hey Marty. I have been writing for over 30 years and not one of my songs has been excepted. They have been listened to only by a few.. I started out in Southern Gospel and now have tried R&B. There are no recording studios within a 100 miles of me so I do my own home recordings. What advice do you have for a country Christian church mouse?

  7. Once again, Marty, I thank you for these words of wisdom in the songwriting community. I find them to be very inspirational. Duncan.

  8. Been an in-my-heart songwriter for over forty years. On only a single occasion, in the winter of 1985, have I tried to market my product. I got up a set of four of my favorite original songs, had demos done in LA, sent them with bio info to three producers in Nashville. Jim Ed Norman called me at my house on 3 Feb 1985, talked to me for fifteen minutes as if I were a lot more than I always believed, causing me to have to hang-on to the window or I’d have slid to the floor. He said he didn’t have targets for those songs right then but he would take another submission set if I had one. I went straight into Allegheny Studio in Coos Bay, Oregon and started another composite of demo/demos to start the ball rolling again. Before that session was completed my 3-year old daughter was abducted {gone for 138 days before the FBI got her back} and a bunch of things changed. As of now I still haven’t gotten to Mr. Norman that second set he requested. I know he’s at Mike Curb’s place now, and I intend to surprise him one fine day with what he asked for, just thirty-three years late.

  9. Marty’s Post is GREAT and I’m curious now to hear Danny’s Liggett’s music…I’ll check it out!
    Me too, Danny … 30 years! How time flies! I bet you’re so glad now that you recorded all those songs!
    The other day, in our beautiful small mountain town, a producer who puts on songwriting festivals here asked on Facebook if anyone knew someone who could teach songwriting for kids, and before I could even respond, one of my friends showed me that my name had been given to him multiple times!
    So that made me realize that I’ve made a difference in my little corner if the world!
    At first, I admit, I tried to do it for the money…I thought writing a song was easier and much shorter than writing a book or a screenplay…I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark on…
    My Grandma wrote poems the way I write songs… she was hard of hearing, so I’m wondering if she was really a songwriter too. Her gift got passed down to me, I think… and although she never got anything published, as far as I know,
    I LOVE her poems and she was a great lady who I loved very much because she always loved me first!
    I thank God for this group! Us writers are a crazy and sometimes a cocky bunch of idiots! (speaking about myself mostly) We hold God’s words and at times don’t know what to do with this amazing gift we’ve been given!
    But we have each other…
    And with great power comes great responsibility…
    So when in doubt, choose good,
    choose honor
    choose to make the world a better place with our music…
    (Not sure if any of this even made sense!)
    … but I Love you all!!! 🎶💖🙏😊

  10. I’ve written dozens of songs and a whopping dozens of people have heard them. (I refer to myself as the world’s most minor celebrity.) Several years ago, I had what I’d call a mid-songwriter-life-crisis, during which I increasingly felt that writing songs had reached the point of diminishing returns. I’ve actually opened for some true headliners, and gotten some modest recognition, but seriously hit a wall. Then one night, I played a recently written song, and about half the crowd started dancing. They had a blast, and I had an even bigger blast witnessing these people dancing to my humble song. I then got a weekly gig at this place, where, during my set, it became a ritual for me to play my song, while the crowd danced to it. Money and fame would be nice, but witnessing the joy these people experienced is the reason why I can now say nothing can stop me from writing songs.

  11. For me, it all began with the need to get something out of me. I’m also a performer so I’m also driven to do things in front of other people and hope for a reaction but the performer side of me can sing covers and tell jokes – the performer doesn’t need to play my poems for people. The poet in me has to write to finally get his thoughts together – before the songs are written, my thoughts are jumbled. After I write I feel like I know myself better and I’ve somehow settled some things in my mind. Then there is another part of me, the entrepreneur that is always looking for ways to monetize my passions. Thank you for the reminder – you can’t monetize your passion if it’s not truly your passion.

  12. Hi Marty,

    At 72 I’m a bit of a late starter to songwriting and music as a business. The information from SongTown is always informative and useful. The songwriting community is inspirational and I’m pleased to be a very small part in it.

  13. writing songs can be exspensive for the writers because you need a good demo to let producers listen too.without that you are dead

  14. Thank you for the kind comments, Danny. I’m glad to be a part of your songwriting journey! Keep writing and blessing people with your music.

  15. Thanks, Marty! Keep these motivational blogs coming. They really help me refocus and keep a positive attitude.

  16. Hi Marty, thanks for posting this. It made stop and remind myself why I write songs. I have been writing songs for 30 years. I am a nobody. I write because I enjoy doing it. I can express myself and excise my demons through song writing. I have no illusions about my talent or my expectations. This is my hobby. Some folks play golf, some fish, some hunt, some bowl. With a couple of other people, I write songs and record them. When we get about 10-12 songs ready, we put together a CD, print up a booklet, and give them to our friends and family. We have done 15 so far. I have never sold a song or a CD. Never tried to. I also want to thank you guys, Sontown, for being there. I read all your posts. I have learned a lot from them and you inspire me. As you say, I will continue to, Write on!

    1. Like you Danny, I write for my own satisfaction. I have never sold a song, and at 75 years old, I don’t suppose I will. In an autobiographical song I wrote “All I really wanted was to move someones heart, and I did a time or two so I’ve been told.” I write and sing soulful songs, my way into listeners hearts is in my delivery, not particularly in my lyrics or the beauty of my voice. It’s nice to know someone has moved along the same path as myself.

      1. Thanks for replying Dana, at 69, I feel the same. If you have a link to your music I would like to listen. I wish you well. have a good weekend.

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