This topic is a little broader than what you are used to. If you’ve been kind enough to spend some time on our blog, you’ll probably have encountered more targeted articles such as “What Exactly is Quantum Music?” or "All About Symmetry in Music” or even “How You Earn Royalties.”
We do like tapping into different subject areas which, collectively, may help songwriters become a better version of themselves. With that said, here we are…
Perfect or better?
The quest to become a better songwriter is a journey that involves continuous change. But along the way, people can sometimes start pursuing perfection instead of improvement. When this happens, it’s easy to overlook certain qualities and quirks we might have, viewing them as hurdles to becoming the “perfect” version of ourselves. This is sometimes a result of comparing our talents to others we think have it all together.
For example, one might look at the achievements of a famous musician and begin thinking that if they just had his or her good looks, they would see more success. Or it's possible to think you need to be funnier in order to pen relatable lyrics; or that you need to become the smartest lyricist to write songs that get noticed.
The pursuit of perfection as a songwriter may not even be directly related to making music, either. It could be about never saying the wrong things, always having your ducks in a row, and always being in control of every last detail.
Whatever the case, trying to achieve perfection will end up harming your songwriting career more than helping it. In fact, this constant battle with your perceived imperfections can wear you out and possibly lead to massive disappointment. And even if you start experiencing some success, frustration will eventually set in when bumps in the road arise – and they will.
It can be a daunting task but it helps to recognize that perfection is an illusion. One of the first things to bear in mind is that absolutely no one is perfect. No matter how flawless or exemplary the people you look up to appear to be, none of them have it all together. On top of that, even if they, somehow, managed to be perfect, that quality would not be responsible for their success.
What, then, is responsible? It comes down to, first of all, loving yourself – including all the things you consider to be imperfections – and forming healthy relationships. Nurturing the right relationships are more important to getting ahead in life than going after the illusion of perfection. This is especially true for people in the music business, which is a relationship business.
How to improve
Self-improvement is a continuous process. Some of the most famous songwriters know this all too well and have devoted their lives to being students of the craft.
Now, we’ve talked about how to become a better songwriter in previous articles, so there is no shortage of tips. You want to ensure you’re putting in the work and following best practices recommended by successful music creators. But improving is also about getting to know and love the real you and being aware of any perfectionist tendencies you might have.
How do you do this? Embrace all the things about you that you consider to be imperfections and know that they are part of what makes you real and unique.
History has shown that there are many human imperfections which turned out to be blessings in disguise.
Freddy Mercury, the late great lead singer for Queen, was a great example. Mercury had a rather noticeable overbite due to extra teeth in his mouth; their formation was something he was said to have been bashful about in the earlier stages of his life. However, instead of going after perfect teeth (and he was certainly capable of paying for dental work), Mercury embraced the misalignment throughout his career, believing it was the secret weapon to his awesome singing voice. If he had decided he wanted straight teeth and taken them out or gotten braces, it’s possible he wouldn’t have had the same level of confidence in his singing, which helped to bring Queen so much success.
Getting better also means acknowledging any weaknesses you might have. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step in understanding the things you need to work on in order to improve. So, maybe you find it difficult to come up with song ideas or probably you lack focus. These are things you can build on by researching solutions and practicing.
Another thing you want to be aware of is the fact that you can’t control every variable. Sometimes you just have to let things play out. When writing song lyrics, for example, the perfectionist inside you might be tempted to edit every line right after you write. But songwriting wisdom contends that it’s often best to write freely, even if the words don’t come out right. Then, only after you have a complete song, should you turn to editing.
Getting better at anything is a natural progression. However, in order to prevent slipping into perfectionism, as some creative minds often do, it’s necessary to strike a balance. This balance becomes possible by accepting the things that make you, YOU (flaws and all), and committing to working on your attributes that need strengthening.