In a recent interview, I was asked, “Belinda, if there is one piece of advice you could give an aspiring writer, what would it be?”
I’ve been a professional writer in Nashville for fifteen years. We are a town of writers and dreamers, and the energy is magnetic. The creative energy has attracted so many of us that we’re practically tripping over each other.
Have you heard this one?How do you find a songwriter in Nashville? Just raise your voice and say, “Waiter!”
I love being around writers all the time and my experiences have run the gamut.
I’ve been in rooms with people who couldn’t carry a tune in a dump truck and couldn’t be convinced otherwise, and I’ve hung out with the best of the best. In my opinion, songwriters are the greatest people (insert my own bias here).
After living in this amazing writer’s community, I have noticed one thorn which consistently competes for a writer’s attention: NEGATIVITY.
A few years back, a successful songwriter friend of mine told me he felt like he was living in a black cloud. No matter where he went, people were complaining. “Nobody’s happy about anything!”
After he said that, I started paying attention, and, as it turns out, he was right.
Soon after our conversation, I wrote down in my notebook all the complaints I heard in one day at a publishing house where I was writing. I found the notebook last night. Here are just a few I wrote down:
- [That artist] wouldn’t know a hit if it hit her over the head.
- I’m so tired of my songs not getting demoed.
- I hate the way they demoed my song.
- My publisher just doesn’t get me.
- I can’t get anything on the radio.
- Everything on the radio these days is [mindless stupidity]. (Keeping the G-rating, gang.)
And on and on and on and on.
It’s so easy to get into a negative mindset as a creative person because the truth is sometimes an artist doesn’t know a hit. And sometimes our songs don’t get demoed, and sometimes our publisher doesn’t get it. And everyone complains about what gets played on radio unless it is their song (that’s just a general rule of thumb).
There are so many things to complain about. There are legitimate gripes, too. I get it.
There’s also one thing to remember, though, and that’s what brought us to writing in the first place.
There is a certain magic that happens in the true moments of writing something new. You know that feeling you get in your gut, the one that makes you forget everything else for just a moment and focus on the song that’s coming out of you. In those moments of pure writing, everything else gets lost.
I started writing because I love that feeling. I love the fact that I can think of things to write, and when I’m finished, there’s something where there was nothing.
It is magic.
And so what is the one piece of advice I would give to an aspiring writer?We write because we’re writers. All the rest of the stuff is NOT the writing. It’s just stuff. Whatever you do, do not get the two things mixed up.
Fiercely, and I mean FIERCELY, guard the magic of writing.
To Your Adventure,