Manage Self-Doubt to Write Better Songs
Instead of Sabotaging Yourself
Ever catch yourself saying any of these? (Yes, I have said them all!)
- My song isn’t good enough
- My song doesn’t sound as good as I imagined it would sound
- The demo mix of your latest song isn’t very good
- My singing isn’t good enough
- My playing isn’t good enough
It’s worse when you apply it directly to yourself instead of your music:
- I’m not as good as _____
- I’m don’t ____ because I’m not good at it
- I don’t have the confidence to _____
- I’m not good enough to _____
These are all forms of self-doubt… not believing in yourself or in your abilities.
Everyone has self-doubts… a little is healthy, it can keep you from getting hurt or embarrassing yourself. You avoid physically or socially unsafe situations… and stay out of trouble.
Without self-doubt, you think you do everything perfectly and already know everything. Regardless of your results, you don’t need to learn anything or do anything differently.
If you only hear your self-doubts, you start to avoid risks… and taking risks is the only way to get yourself to the next level. Too much self-doubt will paralyze you and you won’t try anything new.
Self-doubt can affect your songwriting by:
- Slowing you down
- Procrastinating – avoiding songs that aren’t coming easily
- Avoiding making decisions
- Not finishing your songs
- Not releasing your songs
Self-Doubt is about expectations:
The problem isn’t your skills or level of ability…
The problem is that your expectations are higher than your skills or ability.
Higher expectations are important… you can imagine being better than you are right now… which means you can work to get yourself there!
Self-doubts are usually hiding a fear
It might be a fear of:
- Looking foolish
- Looking like an amateur
- Wasting your time
- Not meeting your expectations
- Not meeting the expectations of others
The solution to managing your self-doubt
Is to channel them in a positive direction
Use the self-doubt / fear to make improvements in your song, your singing, in yourself
Managing Your Self-Doubt – Actions Steps
Notice your doubts
Be aware when you are doing it
Figure out exactly what you are afraid of (often more than one thing!)
And verbalize it or write it down
Check Your Expectations
Are your expectations realistic and fair to your song or fair to you?
- Are you trying to compare your singing to an “A list” artist?
- Are you comparing your home studio demo to a professionally recorded, mixed and mastered song you bought?
- Are you measuring yourself against someone who has been in the music industry longer than you have?
- Is your social media presence weaker than a singer / songwriter / musician that you saw on YouTube?
Test your doubts
Is your doubt real or based in fear?
Figure out if your self-doubt is actually true or if your are avoiding something.
You might need another opinion from someone you trust to help you solve this step….
Choose steps to correct your self-doubt
How can you put yourself in situations that help you build your confidence?
How do you rewrite your personal stories that hold you back?
How will you prove the doubt is wrong?
Choose steps to correct your weakness(es)
If your doubt has has some truth to it… what are you going to do to change it?
You will need to figure out:
- What do you need to work on?
- What skills and experience do you need to improve?
- How hard are you willing to work at it?
- Are you ready to make it a high priority?
- What help do you need?
- Who could help you?
Once you know what you want to do to correct this weakness, add this action to your regular songwriting routine …
Remember to use your strengths to balance your weaknesses
Everyone has strengths – you do too!
What strengths can you leverage to support your growth?
Do something about it – don’t get stuck examining the problem or avoiding your songs because you have doubts.
“Courage (is) not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
From The Long Walk to Freedom the autobiography of Nelson Mandela
Example of Action Steps
I started writing this article because I have self-doubts about my singing… I never really liked to sing, even as a kid. The fact that I have a good singing voice isn’t important because my stories and self talk about my singing is stronger. It showed up recently while I was recording one of my songs in my home studio. I was frustrated because the results weren’t as good was what I heard in my head… I started to avoid working on the recording:
Yeah… after I started to avoid the work!
Doesn’t sound as good as I imagined… understandable but not good enough reason to quit!
I checked the mix the next day, and except for a few phrases that needed another take… it was much better than I had thought the day before. Then a happy accident, I was in a store and heard a song on the radio… don’t know who was singing or the name of the song, but the guitar playing was weak, the singing was worse than mine, and the song didn’t have a decent hook. It made it easier to get back to my half done demo when it already sounded better to me than a published song.
Choose to Correct Doubt
So stop being so hard on myself, continue working on rewriting the “I don’t sing well” story that I have been repeating for years… it’s actually a “I need to build my singing confidence” story!
Choose to Correct Weakness(es)
I have taken singing lessons and need to get back to them. I know several vocal warm-ups, but I don’t do them consistently. So it’s time for me to pick two vocal strengthening warm-ups practice them every morning for a month….
Use Your Strengths
I have a good ear, good tuning and a good sense of time… my issue is more about getting my voice to sing the melody in my head and better control of my vowels… and sounding like I am having fun (instead of listening to the distracting chatter in my head) while I sing!
The vocals are finished on the song, and I’m adding other instrumental parts before a final mix and mastering it.
I wrote this article to help you and to be sure that I catch myself earlier in the avoidance phase next time the doubts start up again.
You can manage your self-doubts by:
Check your expectations
Choose steps to correct doubt
Choose steps to correct weakness(es)
Use your strengths