Solving Songwriting Fear
Do you ever find yourself writing songs that you never finish?
Ever have a mix that you spend hours “improving” but it’s never good enough?
Do you have finished songs but you hesitate to post them on social media?
Usually there’s a little fear going on in your head… let’s scare away that fear so you can finish your songs and share them with the world!
Below the video lesson is a written summary, with bonus ideas and links to other songwriting resources to improve your songwriting!
Fear? But I’m Not Afraid of Anything!
Now, let’s deal with that fear.
Fear is emotional. Fear is hard to deal with because it hides. Instead of announcing itself as “I’m afraid” fear whispers other things in your head:
“Those lyrics are weak”
“This melody is lame”
“The chord progression is boring”
“This song is never going to be any good”
“I’m not a good songwriter”
“Nobody’s going to listen to this” or
“What if nobody likes my song?”
Now, there might actually be some problems to fix in your song. Sometimes your song just doesn’t sound as great as you expected it to sound when you started it. But you also might just be hearing fear disguised as “problems”
Fear… What’s the Point?
Listen, fear is useful, it’s a self preservation mechanism to keep us from harming ourselves. Originally this meant physical injury. In modern society, it also keeps us from social harm, so we don’t embarrass ourselves and look foolish in front of others. Unfortunately, this limits us and keeps us where we are. Comfortable with the status quo. Let me say it again, fear keeps us safe from harm but it also keeps us from personal growth.
If you let fear win then your songs don’t get finished or released. You might have doubts about your songs or experience negative self talk but you can still finish and share your songs.
Fixing Songwriting Fear
Let’s solve it: The first step is recognizing fear.
Notice when you’re hearing fear based thoughts. Pause the video for a moment and think about it. What are your “go to” negative thoughts” that might be fear talking?
Where Does the Fear Come From?
Next, identify WHY you might be feeling fear. Do you remember negative experiences, especially around your music? Did someone criticize your singing voice? Have you shared a song and have it ripped apart online by a troll? Sometimes a “random” or passing comment from someone back in your past gets you stuck. You’ve got to identify it to get past it.
“Lower the Stakes” to Make Fear Fighting Easier
One solution is to “Lower the Stakes” to make it easier for yourself. Share what you have instead of what you wish you had. Post a video performance on instagram instead of mixing and mastering a home demo recording. Your performance should be good, but it doesn’t have to be perfectly polished. Let it be real, people actually appreciate that. Your songwriting is a reflection of who you are right now and your present abilities as a songwriter. Accept this fact and share the music you’re writing right now.
Lower the stakes by releasing your songs without expecting amazing results. Instead of hoping it’s your big break or expecting every song to go viral, just put it out there and hope to touch one person.
The best solution is just say F????€k it and release your songs. This isn’t always easy, but the more you do it the easier it gets. Just share it and don’t worry about negative results like being ignored or getting trolled. Don’t expect praise or hope it goes viral. Just put your music out there. If a song takes off or gets noticed great, if not… go write some more songs. Any songwriter who “makes it” wrote dozens or hundreds of songs. Focus on building a catalogue of songs instead of trying to write “the song”.
Action Steps to Fix You Songwriting Fear
Fear is normal, you have to recognize it to beat it.
Know yourself and your abilities.
Keep working to improve your songwriting.
Write songs, finish songs and share your best work.
The way to conquer fear is to do something that scares you. Lower the stakes and start with a little scary and work your way up.
Bonus Songwriting Advice (Not Included in the Video Lesson)
What’s your songwriting why? When you know why, it’s easier to figure out how. What I mean is if you know why you’re writing songs, it’s easier to figure out your songwriting “how”… how to learn what you need to advance your songwriting and how to reach your goals.
Finish your songs even if they don’t feel like they are going to be the best. A finished bad song is more valuable than a brilliant unfinished song… you learn
Every song is a learning experience… if you don’t finish it, you’re learning not to finish your songs!
Exercise: Notice Your Negative Self Talk
- Start a fresh page in your songwriting notebook
- Set a countdown timer for 10 minutes
- Brainstorm negative self talk and negative stories you can think of
- Mark the page and add to it whenever you catch yourself knocking yourself down or talking poorly to yourself.
- There are things we say to ourselves we’d never say to a friend!
Exercise: Reframe Your Negative Self Talk
- Choose your most damaging self talk to start with….
- Rewrite your negative self talk, pick an example and change how you talk to yourself
- Rewrite your negative and self deprecating stories, pick an example and change how you tell the story so it has a positive spin