Where Am I ?
Sooner or later or sometime in between; as an artist or songwriter, you’re gonna hit that wall of self-doubt. Doubt about your talent, doubt about your path, doubt about the business, and worst of all: doubt about your own heart and desire. After a short career as an artist, a long one as a songwriter and now as a coach to songwriters and artists all over the world, I’m even more aware of how dark a place this can be. I've been 'stuck" in more than one season.
It’s like the critic when you’re writing but on steroids. It can literally bring you to your knees. You put your heart into creating but this is the kind of art that can be hard to measure, at least by the world’s standards. Easy to say, “Well if you have a deal, got a cut, had a hit, and made some money…then what’s not to love?” I’ve been all those places, and believe me, doubt will creep in when you least expect it. Much of it revolves around “Can I do it again?”
So no matter if you’re just getting started or have been at this for awhile ask yourself these 5 questions.
- What do I want?
- Why do I want it?
- How will I get there?
- What tools will I need?
- Where am I now?
It would have been great if I had done this at the start of my dream but I didn’t and you probably didn’t either. We just followed the beat.
So try answering these now, wherever you are on your road. Be honest, and be objective…with yourself. The answers might reveal a lot about you as a songwriter and/or artist and hopefully put you in better touch with your heart, your will, and your dream again.
My Own 5
On a personal note: years ago I was with a band called Faith with one hit, a few albums out and at a time where we were headlining small theaters and opening for major acts. One night Frampton, next couple nights Hall and Oates, The Doobie Brothers, REO, Fleetwood Mac. I had been following one single-minded path since seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. To be a pop star! Something funny happened along the way during that time. I didn’t exactly know it then but I think I did my own version of the five questions above and the answers began to change my path. I realized the amazing dedication it took to get where those artists were and to stay there, the sacrifices and the whole lifestyle thing. Somewhere in there I found that writing songs had replaced the original goal and the answers to the five questions were pretty different .
I’ve had other times in my life when these questions came up and the answers helped clarify things. Pretty sure I’ll ask ‘em again before I'm done. Hope they help you!
Nashville , Tennessee
April 12, 2017
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Check out this interview in the recent edition of M Music and Musicians Magazine for stories behind a few of my songs!
About Mark Cawley
Mark Cawley is a hit U.S. songwriter and musician who coaches other writers and artists to reach their creative and professional goals through iDoCoach.com. During his decades in the music business he has procured a long list of cuts with legendary artists ranging from Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross to Wynonna Judd, Kathy Mattea, Russ Taff, Paul Carrack, Will Downing, Tom Scott, Billie Piper, Pop Idol winners and The Spice Girls. To date his songs have been on more than 16 million records. . He is also a judge for Nashville Rising Star, a contributing author to USA Songwriting Competition, Songwriter Magazine, sponsor for the Australian Songwriting Association, judge for Belmont University's Commercial Music program and West Coast Songwriter events , Mentor for The Songwriting Academy UK, a popular blogger and, from time to time, conducts his own workshops including ASCAP, BMI and Sweetwater Sound. Born and raised in Syracuse, NY, Mark has also lived in Boston, L.A., Indianapolis, London, and the last 20 years in Nashville, TN.