Guitarist - Songwriter

Turning Fear Around

“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” - 4th ed.Words and music need to act as partners in a song, but how do you make sure your melody is helping your lyric? That’s what Chapter 5 of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” deals with. Get it as part of the 10-eBook Bundle, or purchase it separately.


Being a songwriter takes a lot of courage. Non-writers of music don’t often think about it.

But for many that pick up a guitar or sit at a keyboard, working out their next song, there’s a constant companion called fear. And that fear comes in many forms and permutations:

  1. The fear of accidental plagiarism: “What if I accidentally and unintentionally write something that’s already been written?”
  2. The fear of pubic embarrassment: “What if I get trashed on social media?”
  3. The fear of no good musical ideas: “What if my sense of creativity goes missing?”
  4. The fear of being past your prime: “What if my best years are behind me?”
  5. The fear of other songwriters’ successes: “What if my songwriting colleagues move up while I stay still or move down?”

Being in the creative arts requires you to put a lot on the line, because being creative allows random people a good look into your soul. And that’s often not something we feel comfortable with.

The fear of failure is an ever-present companion when you write music. Sure, we can always take a song we think doesn’t work, trash it, start again, and no one else would be the wiser.

But eventually, you need to finish something, and once you’ve given it your nod of approval, you present it to the world and say, “This is me.”

And as I say, non-writers often don’t think about the kind of courage that takes.

There’s no one good way to deal with creative fear because fear is a very personal thing. What scares one person may not scare another, and how one faces fear may not be the way another deals with it.

If you find fear is a constant and annoying part of your songwriting process, it can help to read those five sources of fear listed at the top of this article before you start writing, and think of them as issues you’re helping a friend with.

By turning fear around and imagining that you have a songwriting friend who’s dealing with a lack of confidence, you remove the personal element, and that allows you to think straighter.

Practically all fear, when it relates to songwriting, is a fear of exposing your soul to the world. That’s a hard one, but the more you write, the easier it should get.

A bit of psychology will help: as you pick up your pencil to write, say to yourself, “This is me.” The courage that comes from saying those three simple words will surprise you.

Because most songwriters, in fact, do have the courage necessary to expose their soul to the world. Sometimes you simply have to go looking for it.


Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

Hooks & RiffsHooks and Riffs: How They Grab Attention, Make Songs Memorable, and Build Your Fan Base” shows you how a good hook can make the difference between songwriting success and failure. With great examples from pop music history.

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