Are you afraid of having others hearing your songs? Do you lack artistic confidence?
Writing songs means striking a balance between predictability and innovation. Every song is at least somewhat predictable. That’s partly how we have genres in the first place.
And every song is at least somewhat innovative, or we hope so. If there’s no innovation, there’s nothing unique, and you’re just copying someone else’s work.
It’s the innovation part that’s the scariest part for up and coming songwriters. Creating anything in songwriting takes courage, because a new song shows people who you are. It shows them how you think, and how you’re different from everyone else.
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The balance between predictability and innovation in good songs is severely slanted toward predictability. When we say that a song sounds unique, we’re usually only talking about certain small aspects of it. Unique songs that stand out from the pack are actually still mostly predictable in nature.
In that sense, uniqueness is like a spice, or a herb that you add to your meal. Just a touch of oregano in the sauce sets it far apart from sauce that has none. In songwriting, just a touch of uniqueness sets it far apart from songs that are mainly just predictable copies of other songs out there.
If you hear people talk about good songwriters, they aren’t talking about how they’re the same as other good songwriters; they’re usually talking about the ways in which they’re different.
And that’s something most of us are not comfortable with. Displaying how we’re different can make our artistic legs tremble a bit.
Dealing With Different
When you’re afraid to get your songs out there for others to hear, it’s sometimes because you worry that they don’t measure up: that they aren’t good enough.
But there’s something more going on: your new song shows the world how you’re different.
You’ve just written a song that’s not quite the same as anything else that’s ever been written. And that takes a lot of courage and a lot of confidence.
Because if others don’t like it, it feels very personal. It feels that, in a way, they’re saying that they don’t like you.
There’s no easy answer for that, because everyone deals with a lack of confidence in their own way.
I can’t tell you how to be courageous or confident. I can only tell you that, like a child learning to jump into the deep end of the pool, ultimately you just have to do it.
And you have to make the assumption that some will love the song you’ve written, some will hate it, and most will be somewhere in the middle. That’s as normal as it gets in the arts.
So knowing that some will like your songs, and others will hate them, I say bring it on. Get to the deep end and jump in.
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