What do you do when things get hard?
Do you give up?
Do you stick it out, but resent it?
I have done both of those things, but I don’t like how it feels to do either one. I am not saying there isn’t a time to walk away from something, there certainly is, but not just because it is tough.
I have a new co-writer. We connected in the songwriting world and I was familiar with his writing because of an awesome album he had recently recorded. He, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue about my writing skills. I risked the ask to see if he would consider writing with me and he didn’t hesitate to say yes. I was honored by his answer.
Side note here: It still would have been worth the ask even if the answer was no. And just so you know, asking isn’t the easiest thing in the world for me (says every introvert, myself included).
So why is asking worth it?
If I never ask, the answer is already a no.
Do you know how many times that application can be made in our lives?
AND even if the answer was no, I wouldn’t have died from the response. I would have learned (once again) that getting a negative response is okay and I don’t have to make it mean anything about me.
Fast forward to the co-write. You have to love technology because he lives several states away and it wasn’t like we were going to meet half way. This would be a Skype-write. Pick a day and an hour and power up those computers!
As is usual in a first co-write (sort of like a blind date) you spend some time chatting to get to know each other better. Next, the conversation turns to song ideas and eventually you land on something that speaks to both of you. After that, thoughts, views and angles begin to unfold for the song.
We chose a difficult topic, but one that resonated with both of us and we wrote on it for a couple of hours. Songwriting takes a certain level of vulnerability and the willingness to throw out a lot of stupid before you come close to brilliant. We had a ton of words and phrases but little that was making its way to lines, verses and choruses.
Sometimes songs are written in a single session. This wouldn’t be one of those times.
We made slow progress when we met again. I began to wonder if my co-writer wished we had picked a topic that would more easily come together and if he was second guessing his “yes” to me. Of course, these were just my thoughts. We wrapped up this time with a chorus we both felt good about and some ideas toward verses. Songwriting can be extremely tedious work. Every idea has already been written, so, you have to say the same thing in a unique and fresh way. Song structure, genre, cadence, rhyme scheme, vibe and melody are all part of the piece.
It would be easy to give up…to scratch it and write a different song. What is the point? We both have agreed that the challenge is worth it, that this song will have something to say when we work it out. We know that it has the possibility of touching someone’s life and making a difference. Just because it is challenging is not a reason to abandon the work.
I am not beginning to compare the difficult parts of songwriting to the hard places in your life. I have some of those, too. The questions are: What do you do when it gets hard? Do you give up? Do you stay and resent it? Do you stay in it, and love your reason for doing so?
First, we have to be brutally honest with ourselves.
Who do we want to be in it? Is the challenging place getting us to where we REALLY want to go? What is the reason for staying where we are and working it through?
Knowing the “why” is key to your decision.
I want to write the better song. I want to keep the commitment I made to my co-writer. We are staying with this song until we both agree it is finished or we need to set it aside for a time. Why? Because I have made a commitment to the songwriter in me. I will honor my co-writer and show up, bringing my best for that day. I will honor the song itself and help it say what it longs to say.
Knowing my “whys” and keeping my commitments to myself help me live in integrity with who I am. Knowing your “whys” will help you live Your One Beautiful Life, too.