Two years ago, I picked up my guitar to write a song. I had put songwriting on hold for a few years and finally decided it was time to pursue the hobby again after I had experienced extreme loss. Two years ago, the songs I wrote ( The Universe, Psychic Translation, Aspens) were an exploration. I had no idea what I was doing. I was flying by the seat of my pants.
There’s beauty in not knowing what you are doing. As scary as it may be to not know everything about songwriting or to not know who you are as an artist, it’s also very freeing. You don’t know, and therefore, you can explore. You aren’t writing for a goal or for people to notice you, you are writing to figure it out. You are writing for you.
To this day, I still write for me. I’ve never been one to ask, “Will other people like this song?” Nope. When I write, it’s because I’ve felt something that I need to express. Bottled up emotions aren’t good for anyone. Usually, the way this works is this: Life happens over here and I dwell on it for a few months. Maybe I write down some lyrics in the heat of the moment, maybe I don’t. Sometimes, I just let the emotions sit there before writing so I can process them.
Then, once the events have passed and I’ve had some time away, I come back to the scraps of lyrics, craft verses and choruses, pick up my guitar, find a cool guitar part, and start singing over the top.
It’s crazy to think that I’ve done that for two years now.
As artists, we always want to be moving forward. We want to go from our first gigs that only our parents and a few friends attended to packing venues. We want to go from 1 Spotify follower to 250. We want to go from 50 facebook likes to 500, or 1,000. We go from writing songs for no reason to writing songs to create albums. We go from playing our first small basement house show to touring in cities that become our temporary homes for a night.
We make merch. We get press photos done. We make music videos. We give interviews. We play festivals. We play live on local radio stations. We tour.
We do all of this so we can live the dream. Somewhere along the way, figuring out songwriting becomes, “Hey! I’m ready to play these live.” which turns into, “I love performing!” which becomes, “I want to perform in other cities!” which becomes, “I want to tour for 3 months straight and I want to surround myself with a team of people who are willing to work as hard as I do.”
Growth doesn’t sleep. There’s always that next step to take. But when you are so focused on getting to the top of the indie music mountain, you can easily forget how far you’ve come.
Sometimes, you need to stop and see your growth.