By Justin Gray (Songwriter/Producer/Founder www.mdiio.com)
You’re not past your prime. You’re dry-aged
You’re not malt liquor…you’re a fine merlot.
There is no substitute for putting in the work and investing in yourself. In the long run, it pays off
Have you heard the famous story about the woman who approached Picasso in a café, and asked him to make a drawing on a napkin?
The story goes something like this (taken from a website)
Picasso was at a Paris cafe when an admirer approached and asked if he could do a quick sketch on a paper napkin for her.
Picasso politely agreed, promptly created a drawing, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a million Francs.
The lady was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you five minutes to draw this!”
“No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years to draw this in five minutes.”
I used to stress out about the next generation of young creators coming up. Knives in hand ready to stab me in the back. Take my work and leave me struggling to survive. And then I realized that I had something that they didn’t have.
There wasn’t talent…They are pretty talented.
It wasn’t a skill, ability, or even business acumen.
It was wisdom.
It was experience.
It was relationships.
It was my network.
It was having seen every iteration of every problem and having solved it hundreds of times before.
Here are five things to consider every time you think things are happening a little slower than they should, or a little later than you’d like…
Practice - Every time that you write a song, look at it as an opportunity to invest time in your craft. Use it as a chance to develop new skills and habits that are going to make not only this song better, but the songs in the future that you write even better. Sometimes the best goal when writing a song is to just know that you wrote something better today than you did yesterday. What that means is that you will write something better tomorrow than you did today. Eventually, everything will be at a higher caliber.
Patience - Try not to get caught up in moving too fast. There is some truth to the saying “slow and steady wins the race.“ If I were to tell you that most of the best songwriters have taken YEARS to make it. Hundreds of songs. Mostly bad. But they get better until they get good, and then eventually great. I promise you, that in five years from now, if you put in the effort, you will look back at all of your development as a blessing.
Perseverance - Keep going. Don’t stop. If you truly believe in yourself, and you can look in the mirror and acknowledge that you were doing absolutely everything to improve and get better, just stay focused. As I’ve said in the past, success is not a straight line. It’s peaks and valleys. It’s a roller coaster. But if focused and on track, perseverance has exceptional dividends
Process - Trust the process! Many have come before you, and many will come after you. The process is not complicated. Build your collaborator network, write more songs, and stick with the collaborators that you enjoy. Constantly search out new collaborators, and continue to write with them. When you write songs, your best advertisers are your collaborators who are out there extolling your virtues in the creative community that you frequent.
Perfection - Why do you trust your doctor to prescribe you the right medication when you’re feeling sick? You trust them, because you know the years of hard work have helped them perfect their craft to make accurate diagnoses based on historical data. Writing songs is exactly the same way, but don’t think that you’ll ever write the perfect song. I guarantee you that even Paul McCartney in retrospect would look at the song “Let It Be” and tell you five things about it that should be changed.
The Coda: Fear not my friends. I just turned 50 years old. And if I’m being honest… Scared the hell out of me. But now that I am three months into the back nine, I’ve discovered that every experience, good, bad, or otherwise has brought me to the exact place that I want to be.
See ya next year!! Until then, keep writing them hits