Trust is something we typically think about much more in relation to bandmates and collaborators than with ourselves as songwriters. If you regularly find yourself questioning your creative decisions or trying to bend your music in directions that don’t feel natural, you might have a problem with trusting yourself as a music-maker.
Why trust can be tricky as a songwriter
Creating music is not simple or easy, especially if you’re doing it seriously or for your career. In the never-ending pursuit of trying to create something great, many musicians drift into habits of letting external expectations shape their work more than anything that feels natural and original to them. Lack of trust can come from poor confidence or an eagerness to succeed by imitating someone else’s music. Creative trust problems can be obvious, like someone intentionally trying to sound like another artist, or it can show up in subtler ways, like a band collectively feeling like nothing they write is ever good enough. There aren’t shortcuts in musical creativity, which is what makes trust so difficult. It’s something you could work at for years and years and never find success in.
How to accept and welcome failure
If you want to build and strengthen your creative trust in songwriting, start first by thinking about failure. Failure is not only inevitable in music creation, but is actually a good thing. Failure means you’re trying to create something new. You could copy someone else’s work and find some momentary success, and many artists do this. But if you want to succeed in a lasting way, you’ll have to make something both new and memorable, and it will probably take a good amount of failure to do this. If you create something in ways where your intuition and ideas are fully trusted and pursued, you aren’t failing no matter what streaming counts and reviews have to say about your work. Every act of authentic and free music creation gives you more experience and another chance to connect with listeners. Every new song broadens your own unique relationship with music creation. Instead of constantly being afraid of failure, you’re far better off authentically creating the best music you can and learning to accept results that are less than ideal, whether it’s writing something you’re not thrilled about or making an album no one listens to.
Learning to trust your own creativity
Trusting your creative intuition may be as easy as bringing awareness to your writing process when you’re not being authentic. Or, it could mean doing the work of reversing years of bad habits that you’ve relied on to make music you think the world wants you to write. Creative trust looks different for every songwriter, but it will end up being something crucial for you if you plan on writing music over the long-term. Applying your own creative signature to someone else’s music for a cover is one thing, but trusting someone else’s vision more than your own won’t get you to where you want to be in music. Trusting yourself enough to create something that’s truly yours takes lots of time and effort, but it’s worth it.