Songwriters: You Fail Only If You Stop Writing Songs

Songwriting Persistence: You Fail Only If You Stop Writing Songs

Hi, are you a songwriter?

I’ve had people come up to me and introduce themselves in a setting where I suspected that they were also songwriters. When I ask if they are songwriters they say, “Not a real songwriter – I’ve never had anything recorded”.

That always breaks my heart. I believe that commercial success does not make one a writer any more than donating to a charity makes one a good person.

Those things are outward measures that people can see and make conclusions based on. But even those conclusions aren’t always accurate. I have known people that donated tons of money to charity to make themselves feel better for the crappy way they live. And, I’ve known people who were admittedly NOT writers that happened to be in the room when a hit was written and they got their name on the song as a writer. Those outward signs can be deceiving.

If you are a writer, you are a writer because you have a writer’s heart.

You see the world through different lenses, you feel and experience the world with a passion that others don’t have. You are able to put the world into words. If you are a songwriter, you put it into words and music.

That is a rare gift. And the gift is not measured by dollars and cents. The gift is measured by the continual outpouring of your soul onto paper so that others might be able to hear your work and say “That’s exactly what I was feeling, but I couldn’t find the words to say it.” It’s giving of yourself so that others might dance, laugh or sing.

Songwriting Persistence: You fail only if you stop writing songs…

If you judge your writing in those ways, you will agree that you only fail if you stop writing. The amount of commercial success you achieve doesn’t need to define you. I’m not a better writer because I’ve had several #1 songs. I’m a better writer because I keep writing.

So, my message today is – Don’t give up. Don’t be discouraged.

Just keep writing, have songwriting persistence! Keep doing everything you can do to improve your skills and keep pouring your heart out.

Whatever you achieve with that strategy, you will be a winner AND you will be a writer. Own it.

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

12 thoughts on “Songwriters: You Fail Only If You Stop Writing Songs

  1. I have written a few songs but when they are reviewed they come back with a negative review saying they need something changed. I don’t won’t my songs changed. I write them the way I feel when I write them and the feeling I won’t them to have.

    1. Pearlie, I too have felt that way in the past. Keep two things in mind… One, when sending in a song you are essentially asking for someone’s opinion. People feel more useful when they give you something you haven’t thought of yet. If they just say the song is fine they don’t feel useful. Second, I have been hell-bent on not changing a song that I believed was exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to see it. A year later I realized that it absolutely needed to change. It’s a fine line but it’s one I’m happy I get to walk.

      Out of curiosity, where are you sending your songs to get feedback?

  2. Thanks Marty – I go through phases of writing and nothing else but writing then ‘stuff’ happens and while I have my song simmering in the recesses of my brain – it is on hold and at other times a song and tune pops in to be written even while I am writing something else! I have to give way to the ‘intruder’ and find that somehow that the ‘intruder’ had to be written before the one I already had on the go and it seems to ‘write itself’ in a way most peculiar and the other song that I was working on needs more work and is more time-consuming…

    1. Great comment, I’ve been there. I find that if I switch my thinking around, I can regard that “intruder”, that new idea, is really an outgrowth of the first idea. Maybe our brains are doing spine refinement in the background. I’d say don’t refuse any idea, and prioritize the one that speaks to you in the most visceral way.

    2. Vanessa…..You hit the nail on the head, even if you haven’t seen it fully. Your best songs you’ll ever write will be the songs that write themselves Many pro singer/songwriters have stated this as a fact. My own experience has shown that all the other songs in between are writing exercises that keep you fit ’till TSTWT (the songs that write themselves) pop in from your song receiving brain antenna that is opened to receive it, and is due for you for all your steady perseverance which keeps you engaged. For me the lyrics and melodies come in pairs if I’m not within reach of my workstation which I believe would be a detriment to receiving TSTWT. I hope this helps your understanding of TSTWT. Christopher D.

  3. Thank you, Marty, I needed that today. My husband told me the same thing a few days ago. He told me not to make music for the money or for other people’s approval, but simply for the sheer joy of making music. For myself. I’ve always enjoyed writing and playing and producing, even when no one paid me a dime. I could sit in a room for hours and play for myself. When we set such high standards for ourselves and begin to expand our goals, sometimes we lose sight of why we started writing or playing in the first place. Thanks for reminding us.

  4. I started writing songs when I was about 17. I only wrote a few back then and as my kids were growing up, my focus turned to them. I started writing again around 2003 and have been writing ever since. I will always consider myself a songwriter, but it is good to hear it from soneone else. Everyone who writes songs, is a songwriter!! You can’t have a beautiful ending withough making beautiful mistakes.

  5. Thanks for the encouraging words. I started my songwriting years ago when I was in high school but lost the drive when I graduated and went to work. About 10 years ago I started putting words together again focusing on Christian gospel and contemporary music. But the last year the frustrations are getting to me but your words of encouragement have given me new life. Thanks! It’s not what you get recorded it’s feeding your own spirit as God gives you the words to put down.

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