The Struggling Songwriter

By Em Hughes (Founder, DIASH)

When will my art be good enough?

During a trip to the museum, I walked into a gallery and came upon a few art pieces. They’re magnificent pieces of work! You could see the artists put years of effort into what they are now. When I got home, the song lyrics were in a messy pile on the bed. They were nothing like the pieces in the museum.

Seriously, why is it so hard to make a piece with the same flare and appeal? It’s a constant love-hate relationship. The lyrics don’t sound right. The chord progression doesn’t fit with what I want. In those moments, blocks barricade the creative psyche. Between what’s playing on the radio and creative freedom, trying to write something with a decent message gets overshadowed by samples and simple chord progressions. I don’t want those, but most of the time, that’s how all the music turns out.

The process makes giving up clearer in the horizon. There’s no way to make these songs work without something sounding off because I’ve tried almost everything and nothing’s coming out like it should. How can I expect to have a decent career if I keep writing like this? How can one explain a message if they write like everyone else?

When will my art be good enough?

I look at the song lyrics about to be thrown in the trash. This feeling comes over my body. Suddenly, everything comes back. Experiencing the painful heartbreak. Crying in the car writing my heart out. Composing the chord progressions on a terribly out-of-tune piano. All the added and deleted works. Five years into a three-minute song.

My art doesn’t need to be good enough; my art is good enough for me.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like what’s on the radio. Maybe that’s not as important. The story may not be understood by everyone else, but it means everything to me. I’m going to tell it. Someone out there needs to hear.

All that’s needed is letting go of being good enough.


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