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The Frettie Journal
A collection of interviews, updates, tips and resources for songwriters.

What songwriting story are you telling yourself?

Tips & Resources by Brent Baxter, Pro Songwriter on October 24, 2018

Songwriters are storytellers.  We love to tell our listeners about the world as we see it- what makes us laugh, what makes us cry, what we believe in, etc.  But the most important story you will ever tell as a songwriter... is the story you tell YOURSELF.

The story we choose to tell ourselves will have a huge impact on our growth, creativity and success as songwriters.  I know they have in my career.

I figured out early in my songwriting that I wasn't any good at writing melodies.  I've never been a good singer, and melodies are frustrating.  But the words?  Words have always been my thing.  I've always loved playing with them- and I have a knack for it.  Along with this realization of my strengths and weaknesses came a choice.

What story will I tell myself- about myself?

Will I tell myself that I'm "only half a songwriter?"  That I'm "not a real songwriter?"  Will I tell myself it's not fair that life didn't hand me all the talents I'd like to have?  Will I tell myself that no "real" songwriter would want to write with "just a lyricist?"

As you can probably guess, that's NOT the story I told myself.  I told myself, "I'm a lyricist.  I'm  a specialist."  I told myself myself that country music loves great lyrics - so I do something valuable.  I told myself I don't have to be great at everything.  I told myself that as long as I'm great at one thing, I'd have a seat at the table.

This self-story has made an incredible difference.

It has allowed me to act from a position of confidence instead of doubt.  Instead of approaching potential cowriters almost apologetically like "I'm sorry, but will you please write with me?  I'm only a lyricist," I could look them in the eye without shame and say, "I'm a lyricist, and I have some ideas I think you're gonna love."

What story do you tell yourself?

Do you tell yourself that it doesn't matter how good your songs are because "you gotta know somebody?" Or do you say "I'm GOING to make it- and the better my songs are, the easier it's going to be to get to know somebody?"

Do you tell yourself that publishers are stupid for not liking your songs?  Or do you tell yourself that publishers NEED great songs and you just have to write better ones?

Is your story that you were born in the wrong PLACE to be a songwriter because you're hundreds of miles from New York, LA or Nashville?  Or is your story that you were born at a great TIME to be a songwriter because you can use the internet to connect with the music business from anywhere in the world?

The story you CHOOSE to tell will either help or hurt your chances for success.

Is your story "you gotta be lucky to make it, so it doesn't matter how hard I work?"  Or is your story "luck loves songwriters that are serious and work hard, so I'm gonna work harder?"

Your story matters.

It's time to do a check up from your neck up.  Be honest with yourself about your story.  Are your stories helping you or holding you back?

Does your story tell you why you CAN, or does it tell you why you CAN'T?

Listen, I'm not into fru-fru ya-ya mumbo jumbo.  I don't believe success is attracted to me just because I tell myself I'll be successful. No, if I believe I'll be successful, I'm more willing to put in the work and take the chances that make success more likely.  My story doesn't change the universe.  My story changes me.

If your story is that music publishers don't know what good music is so they won't like your music, you know what will probably happen?  You'll probably play songs for one or two publishers - just enough to prove yourself "right" - and then just quit calling publishers.

However, if your story after one or two rejections is that you just haven't found the right publisher yet, you'll keep trying.  And that alone increases your odds of success.  Or if your story is that you just need to write better songs, you'll stay in the game, writing, getting better, and building publisher relationships.  And then you might just get that big hit.

And THAT will be a great story.

What about you? What stories have you been telling yourself? If your story needs to change, what story will you start telling yourself? I'd love to hear from you- please leave a comment!

God bless,


PS- Thanks for stopping by Frettie! I appreciate it. As a matter of fact, I want to give you a special little something just for your visit. It's my FREE ebook "Think Like A Pro Songwriter," and it reveals valuable I-learned-it-the-hard-way-so-you-don't-have-to tips to help you succeed at the art, craft and business of songwriting. You can download it at

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