Think of songwriting like a romantic relationship. When things are going well and ideas come by effortlessly, it feels natural and doesn’t take much work. This is akin to the honeymoon phase of falling in love, when all you want is to be with the person you’ve fallen for. But when things go poorly — songwriter’s block, your album flops — staying the course is much harder to do. This difficult season of music creation is like a long-term relationship. It requires effort and hard work to keep things humming along. It can feel difficult and isn’t instantly rewarding, but putting the work in is worth it.
A life committed to writing music demands sacrifice, thoughtfulness, curiosity, and boundaries. It takes constant work, and a commitment to resilience. Like a healthy relationship with anything in life, sticking with music creation requires tons of flexibility. It’s great to have big dreams and goals – ambition is often what separates serious music creators from those who write occasionally for fun. But an all-or-nothing approach to music will leave you jaded and out of ideas when life doesn’t go your way.
Who are you when all the superficial stuff gets stripped away; things like social media followers, public streaming stats, and reviews? Like many artists, you’ve found a means of self-expression through your music. This is the case whether you sell out stadiums or share your songs at local open mic nights. Take pride in the fact that you’re lucky enough to create and share music. And if you keep at it, your music may be discovered by others and bring respite to them. Adopting a humble, flexible mindset in music helps you get outside of your own head and write good music. But more importantly, it teaches you to cope with rejection and disappointment, which is part of every serious songwriter’s career.
In music and in life in general, you become happier and more empowered when you focus on what you can control. This is key in today’s ever changing music landscape. You can choose to keep learning, growing, and connecting with people through your songs, regardless of whether your music finds conventional success or not. It’s a conscious choice to continue creating music and look intrinsically for motivation, rather than focus on your external circumstances. You can only control yourself and the amount of work and passion you put into your songs. There’s something hugely liberating about that when you stop and think about it. It’s an idea that will keep you going not just for today, but for as long as you want to create and engage with music.