The Biggest Thing All Songwriters Struggle With

As a self proclaimed music lover, I find myself always exploring new music. I’ve spent countless hours on the train home browsing through Spotify trying to discover new music. I admire artists whose talent can be showcased within a raw and perfectly imperfect performance.

They do not need theatrics to upstage their work, instead you become submerged into the hauntingly beautiful marriage of music and purposeful lyrics. It tells a story and you can connect to it. The kind of music that’s purity cannot be fully contained within a recorded album, when their live rendition does it such justice. It’ll move your soul in ways you never knew were possible. It’s a gut feeling. It’s mixed with envy and gratitude. You’ll feel envy, because you realize that’s the exact type of music you’ve always dreamed of creating. You’ll feel gratitude because it exists.

One of my favorite artists, Johnnyswim; embody this. Their performance ability is like no other, fully immersed into music and their magic. Music is a war on my confidence. When my confidence is present (musically) it is reflected in all aspects of my voice. When my musical confidence is lacking, my voice is tight, volume is limited and I become overly critical and self conscious of everything. When I feel inspired, I need to freely act on that impulse.

I should be able to follow it where it takes me, but I’ve put myself into a corner. I love songwriting. Between my phone and my journal, I have scribbled tons of verses. All written in rushed moments or while falling asleep. When I read them back and try to work on them, I tense up and allow all my insecurities interact with the words before I’ve had a chance to explore them.

If I was able of to push through the self doubt and lack of confidence, I could’ve written an album by now. Ironically enough, I don’t think I have a completed song I’d be proud to perform. Why? I’m incredibly critical of myself and ‘my music’. As pretentious as it sounds, ‘my music’ is healing. But I don’t think the two verses and mediocre chorus would be healing to other people.

If I write something that seems overly dramatic or a rip-off of another artist, it’s over. Then add in the pressure of other artists. The artists who you look up too and are successfully living their dream. I am painfully aware that I should not let that play into my creative process, but I do.

I’ve heard musicians say one too many times in candid interviews, ‘if you’re writing a real song, the words can come out fast enough’ and it has been engraved into my brain, adding another creative roadblock.

I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself a ‘musician’ or a ‘songwriter’, its sounds uncomfortably pretentious. It puts immediate attention on something I’ve not yet perfected. I don’t think I’ll ever prefect it because very few have perfected it. When it comes to songwriting, it’s imperative to accept the doubt as it comes because it will always be part of the process.

Reflect back on the music that inspires you and lights a fire in you to be better. Creatively, we have to hold ourselves to our vulnerability because it will set us free.

When we accept the insecurities that exist within our vulnerability it helps tolerate the overwhelming creative doubt.

It’s your message, your story and your voice.

Photo by Justin Clark on Unsplash


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