Songwriter - guitarist

Dealing With Songwriter’s Fear of Failure

We tend to get judged in life by the last thing we did. In the creative arts like songwriting, that means that the last song or two that we write are what people tend to use to assess our efforts.

There’s not much you can do about that. You do the same thing: if your favourite band puts out a less-than-stellar album or releases a song that you don’t like, you worry that it represents a new direction, and you don’t like it.

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We accept this in the world of music. It’s why developing good writing skills is so important, and why consistent excellence is something every songwriter needs to strive for.

There’s another way in which developing consistency is so important: one bad song can lead to writer’s block. How? Most writer’s block starts as a fear of failure.

And it usually works like this: You work on something that, once you’ve got it finished, you can just tell that you missed the mark. It plays on your mind in such a way that when you start a new song, you worry that you’re going to write another “bad” one.

That worry quickly becomes a fear will often develop into a self-fulfilling prophecy: it becomes harder to write. You then start to become extra-critical of your creative process, and then you find that everything you write isn’t good enough.

And then you get stuck, finding it hard to move forward.

The best way forward whenever you write a song is to put your inner critic on hold, and don’t be so negative if you happen to write something you don’t think is representative of your best work.

Think of every song you write as an opportunity to show your consistent excellence. If that last song you wrote doesn’t measure up and display your excellence, analyze what you’ve done, try to figure out what you might do differently, and dive back into writing your next song.

If self-analysis isn’t something you feel you can do well, follow the advice in this blog post I wrote a few years back — It will help you keep everything in perspective.

Gary EwerWritten by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.

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