Today, I met with a songwriter friend who is very talented and very frustrated with her lack of music business success. She was describing to me how she had thought she would be so much farther along by the time she reached the birthday that had just passed.
I told her my story. It took me almost 6 years of writing full time to get my first cut. Another year after that to get my first single. And another year to have my first hit. There were many days of self-doubt. There were heart crushing disappointments when “sure-things” fell through. There were near misses that could have changed my life if they had come through.
She asked me how I stayed encouraged and positive over a 20+ year music business career with that many ups and downs.
I find my joy in the everyday process of creating songs…
As I thought about it, I realized that the reason I still get a huge amount of satisfaction from songwriting is that I find my joy in the everyday process of creating. In the beginning, I had given control of my happiness to other people. The artists who did or didn’t cut my songs. The A&R people that I had to get past to get a cut. Publishers, producers, they ALL held my happiness in their hands. If they said “Yes” to my song, I was happy. If they said “No”, I was sad.
That plan led to many, many sad days. There are going to be more “no” days than “yes” days for anyone in the music business. Letting my success determine my happiness and my joy for writing was ruining songwriting for me. I felt a crushing pressure to write a hit every day. There’s no better way to crush your creativity. Trust me. I’ve tried lots of them.
I reached a breaking point one day where I didn’t know if I could keep on dealing with the stress and pressure I was putting on myself. I took a walk by myself and thought through my options. And, I realized what was going on. I decided to take my happiness back.
Focus on what you can control…
There are not many things I can control in the music business. I can control who I am in a room with each day. I started scheduling only people that I enjoyed working with. I decided that I was going to enjoy every day that I got to write a song, even if nothing ever happened with it. Once I began to look at it that way, I started enjoying writing again and the pressure lifted. I got my happiness back. And, I started getting cuts.
I find my joy in being in a room with a creative person that makes me smile while a song is being born. At the end of each day, I’ve helped create something that didn’t exist before, and that’s pretty cool. If people don’t like it, that’s ok. If they do, that’s great. I’m good either way.
That, in my opinion, is how you you continue to enjoy songwriting. There’s joy in the journey.
Write on! ~Marty
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Author: Marty Dodson