Quotes That Helped Me (Songwriting Edition) – Part 3

I had intended to post a different blog today. I’ve been working on a companion to my folklore post – for sister album, evermore – and had hoped to post it today for the one year anniversary of it’s release but I’ve been so unwell over the last month – the side effects of my new ADHD medication have been brutal – that I just haven’t been able to finish it. I have a good chunk of it done so I’d like to finish and post it at some point but I guess we’ll see. I still wanted to post though and this is what I had finished. So I hope you enjoy these quotes (here’s part one and two, if you’re interested) and hopefully writing will start to feel easier soon.


“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” – Paul Gardner

“You wind up creating from silence, like painting a picture on a blank canvas that could bring tears to somebody’s eyes. As songwriters, our blank canvas is silence.” – Rodney Atkins

“Hearing about a visual artist’s approach can change the way you think about songwriting.” – St. Lucia

“When you don’t write songs for a while there’s a fear you won’t be able to do it again.” – Tim Wheeler

“Write until you can’t write anymore.” – Billie Myers

“If you’ve got a really strong concept, then it’s easy to write. Whereas if you’re not sure what the true story is, it’s bloody hard.” – Shelly Poole

“Often the simplest song is the hardest to write.” – Patti Smith

“All of my acoustic playing came from my songwriting. All of the chords I’ve learned and all of the voicings I play them in are a direct result of composing.” – Mat Kearney

“I don’t think about commercial concerns when I first come up with something. When I sit down at the piano, I try to come up with something that moves me.” – Lamont Dozier

“My task as an artist is to stay as close as I can to my own essence.” – Trixie Whitley

“A song is an ever-changing, ever-evolving and morphing thing.” – Simon Tong

“My songwriting has evolved, just as I’ve evolved as a person.” – John Oates

“I write about what I know and what I’ve experienced. That’s the only way it can be real to me. I love songwriting. There is something so satisfying in coming up with an idea and turning it into a song that means something to people…” – Aaron Tippin

“Songwriting is such an intricate part of me as an artist and as a person; I couldn’t just let someone else do it.” – Shakira

“It doesn’t stop. It really doesn’t stop. It’s the way I live every single day. I don’t do anything else. I have no other interest other than music. At all.” – Steven Morrissey

“No one can attack you when you’re songwriting; it’s you and a song, which is a great place to be.” – Gin Wigmore

“People haven’t always been there for me but music always has.” – Taylor Swift

“Songwriting is a great release. It helps me work through things.” – Jo Dee Messina

“I’ve always used songwriting as a way to help me organise reality.” – Jason Mraz

“You need to work at the craft of songwriting, but not only the craft. When I see people working both on themselves and the craft, and they combine those things… I just go, ‘That’s just fabulous.'” – Fred Eaglesmith

“Music is energy, emotion, expression, escapism, enlightenment. Music is so much more than just entertainment.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru

“I write a song because I want to. I think the moment you start writing it to make money, you’re starting to kill yourself artistically.” – Pete Seeger

“Something good happened to my writing when I stopped being afraid to do something simple, for the fear that people might think I couldn’t do something more complex. Don’t be confused by the word simple. Simple is not easy, it is clear voiced, and fearlessly elegant.” – Carrie Newcomer

“I always saw songwriting as the top of the heap. No matter what else you were going to do creatively – and there were a lot of choices – writing songs was king.” – Jakob Dylan

“Every musician out there wants to be judged on the merit of their songwriting, the merit of their performing abilities.” – Laura Jane Grace

“Nothing can stop a great song, so just keep songwriting.” – Manika

“Songwriting is the way of perpetual want. Songwriters are the blessed/cursed people. You will never have a moment’s peace in your life. You will always be wanting the next song.” – Jon Stewart

“Closed in a room, my imagination becomes the universe, and the rest of the world is missing out.” – Criss Jami

“You’re never quite sure where the song is going, because you might not find the word to rhyme with the end of the line. You have to find associative meaning to get you there. So it’s rather like doing a crossword puzzle backwards. A kind of strange, three-dimensional, abstract crossword puzzle.” – Annie Lennox

“Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.” – Osho


I hope these have been inspiring and thought-provoking. I’m always looking for more quotes so if you have any that you love, about anything, please stick them in the comments!

Quotes That Helped Me (Songwriting Edition – Part 2)

This last week has been pretty rough. I’m coming off the Phenelzine, which has been a pretty unpleasant process, and I just haven’t had the wherewithal to write anything to be perfectly honest. I’ve just been trying to get through each day. But I wanted to post something and this seemed as good as anything, especially since I’m officially finishing my Masters this week with Graduation on Tuesday. So here are some more of my favourite quotes about songwriting. I hope they inspire you.


“Songwriting really anchored me.” – Freya Ridings

“In a lot of ways, songwriting helped save my life.” – Mary Gauthier

“Creating something beautiful out of pain helps ease the pain. So, that’s kind of how I got to songwriting – quite honestly out of desperation.” – Mary Gauthier

“Music is catharsis for me.” – Sara Bareilles

“Songwriting is like going to church. I’m connecting to something, and it’s rewarding in really important ways. I don’t need to share it with anyone to feel good about it.” – Juliana Hatfield

“Music is the purest form of art… therefore true poets… seek to express the universe in terms of music. The singer has everything within him. The notes come out from his very life. They are not materials gathered from outside.” – Rabindranath Tagore

“For me, songwriting is something like breathing: I just do it. But that doesn’t mean you’re fantastic.” – Adam Duritz

“All I do is just try and learn from the best, and realise that however well I think I’m doing, I could always be better.” – Andy Fraser

“I use three main tools in writing: instinct, hard work and dumb luck. Dumb luck is missing a train and, while you wait for the next one, writing a key word, line or verse. When this happens often enough you begin to believe in fate.” – David Massengill

“My favourite songwriting trick is writing something like ‘XO.’ In my brain, I thought, ‘This is probably going to be a love song. How can I change that and find ways to twist that.’ As a songwriter, it’s your job for the song to take twists and turns that people don’t expect.” – Kelsea Ballerini

“I teach songwriting a lot, and I always tell my students, ‘You gotta write the little songs sometimes to get to the next big song in the chute.’ You gotta write ’em to get to it. You never know what’s going to be a little song or a big song.” – Mary Gauthier

“I think you can refine what you do, and become more consistent. And you write better songs that have a better shape and a better feeling. You evolve into and out of things, and go through stages, but, ultimately, you do improve.” – Richard Thompson

“You might ‘write from the heart,’ but you’d better polish with your brain.” – Margaret Atwood

“Don’t be afraid to write bad songs and then start over and re-evaluate. Songs are like plants, in that you grow them. Some grow really fast, and others need pruning and care… And, finally, a song needs to move you. If it doesn’t move you, it will never move anybody else.” – Corey Harris

“Ultimately all you can do is write songs the best you can, then put them out and see if people like them.” – Michael Kiwanuka

“Musical magic is created by human beings: learning their craft, trying things out, practising.” – Joe Jackson

“Songwriting never gets old. There’s always stuff to write about.” – Tori Kelly

“One of the nice things about songwriting is you can be inspired by absolutely anything.” – Jens Lekman

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

“It’s the ability to recognise valuable accidents that’s the key part of songwriting.” – Dean Friedman

“Anyone involved with songwriting will testify to the fact that each song, no matter how pure or from the heart, has its own story, its own peculiar way of getting written.” – C. Sigman

“I’ve always loved both writing and songwriting. The journey is fascinating to me.” – Manika

“What keeps me motivated to create new music is the joy of songwriting. The joy of being creative. The joy of writing a poem or essay. Writing anything. I just love writing, whether it is music or words.” – Nick Heyward

“Songwriting is the closest thing to magic that we could ever experience. That’s why I love songwriting.” – Rodney Atkins

“I write all the time, I don’t stop. I love it. It’s a fascinating and endless pool of ideas and thoughts.” – Mark Chadwick

“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.” – Plato

“Songwriting is such a sensitive energy. It’s just a vibration of frequencies.” – Victoria Monet

“Combining sounds that are from another universe with the classic songwriting structures never gets old for me.” – Harley Edward Streten

“I’m writing about emotions.” – Sara Bareilles

“My experience with songwriting is usually so confessional, it’s so drawn from my own life and my own stories.” – Taylor Swift

“For me, songwriting has become a practice of finding out what I’m really thinking.” – Kate Dimbleby

“I’ve always used songs and music and songwriting as a way to sort of let feelings go.” – Adam Gontier

“I fell into [songwriting] by mistake and I can’t get out of it. It fascinates me. I like to point out the rawer points of life.” – Keith Richards

“I never judge my own songwriting. It’s just my heart. What’s there to judge about your own heart?” – Jillian Rose Banks

“All songs are living ghosts. And long for a living voice.” – Brendan Kennelly

“I feel like my songs are like diary entries for me. So I usually write about things that have happened to me specifically or sometimes it can be someone who’s close to me.” – Sara Bareilles

“You know, I would say that songwriting is something about the expression of the heart, the intellect and the soul.” – Annie Lennox

“I think songwriting was the biggest way that I found my identity.” – Camila Cabello

“When you write a song… you’re sharing some of your life with the listener.” – Nina Baker


As I said, I hope these have been inspiring. I know they inspire me.

Quotes That Helped Me (Songwriting Edition – Part 1)

Since I’ve just finished my Masters – and a Masters in songwriting, no less – I wanted to do a quotes post specifically about songwriting. It has been taking up the majority of my brain for the last… I don’t know… very long time. So I wanted to pull together some quotes about songwriting because it is my very favourite thing, my most enduring special interest, the one thing that I know without a doubt that I could not live without.


“I think that talent, good songwriting and passion, will always outlast hype.” – Beau Bokan

“I write a song because I want it to make me feel better. Other people have different ways of letting off steam. Mine is writing songs.” – Ed Sheeran

“I write every day, even when I’m on a plane, in the tub or on the bus. It burns in me. Songwriting is my way of channelling my feelings and my thoughts. Not just mine, but the things I see, the people I care about. My head would explode if I didn’t get some of that stuff out. Not everything I write is good, but it’s all good for me.” – Dolly Parton

“I feel the emotion that life conjures up and the songs I write get me closer to my feelings and realising who I am. It’s a natural process.” – Taylor Swift

“Everything in life influences my music. I’ve always used songwriting as a means to share what I think is profound.” – Jason Mraz

“The songs have taught me enough over the years. I know they’re smarter than me.” – Trey Bruce

“There are going to be moments of deep, deep doubts, and you have to have faith that your initial idea was good and just muddle through.” – Ann Brashares

“A song will find the proper moment to come to life.” – Valerie Simpson

“It’s not just music. To me, it’s songwriting more than anything. A lot of people say it’s expression, but to me, it’s more than that.” – Brantley  Gilbert

“I love getting on a big writing binge and staying up a couple days working on song and knowing at the end of those two or three days that I’ve created something that was never in the world before.” – Dolly Parton

“Songwriting is a very mysterious process. It feels like creating something from nothing. It’s something I don’t feel like I really control.” – Tracy Chapman

“It happens so quickly it seems like it’s coming from somewhere else. It’s not. It just means that you’re in sync with yourself.” – Harry Nilsson

“There’s an element to songwriting that I can’t explain, that comes from somewhere else. I can’t explain that dividing line between nothing and something that happens within a song, where you have absolutely nothing, and then suddenly you have something. It’s like the origin of the universe.” – Nick Cave

“I tried to look at writing a song almost like solving a mystery. The song was there, buried somewhere in my brain. All I had to do was follow the clues until I figured it out.” – Jon Skovron

“I often say songwriting is like trying to climb down a ladder at night. You put your foot on the next rung and test it out and make sure it holds and then you reach for the next one.” – Crowder

“Songwriting is like working on a jigsaw puzzle, and it doesn’t make any sense until you find that last piece. It has to make sense or it doesn’t work.” – Chrissie Hynde

“All songs are already perfectly written. It is the writer’s job to find it and get it on paper.” – Beth Nielsen Chapman

“Each song has its own secret that’s different from another song, and each has its own life. Sometimes it has to be teased out, whereas other times it might come fast. There are no laws about songwriting or producing.” – Mark Knopfler

“There are no limitations with a song. To me a song is a little piece of art. It can be whatever you like it to be. You can write the simplest song, and that’s lovely, or you can just write a song that is abstract art.” – Laura Nyro

“The hell with the rules. If it sounds right, then it is.” – Eddie Van Halen

“I don’t think about the styles. I write whatever comes out and I use whatever kind of instrumentation works for those songs.” – Lenny Kravitz

“I really like this trend of songwriting that is honest and intelligent and serious and longing.” – Parker Posey

“I feel some kind of duty to be really, really honest as a writer. The same is true of my songwriting.” – Juliana Hatfield

“Honest always sells. Always has, always will.” – Ryan Tedder

“Just speak your truth, it’s an important cornerstone of how your life ends up sort of unfolding in front of you. Even if it’s painful, if it’s honest, it’s going to bring you to the place you deserve to be.” – Sara Bareilles

“Being so honest in my writing is cathartic.” – Brian Molko

“I’d say, at the end of the day, you know, from a songwriting practice standpoint, you write songs to make yourself feel something true and validating, and cathartic, maybe, and then whoever responds to it is, like, out of your control.” – Ben Hopkins

“The cool thing about writing music, writing anything, is that once you publish it, it’s there forever.” – Ryan Tedder

“If you pour your life into songs, you want them to be heard. It’s a desire to communicate. A deep desire to communicate inspires songwriting.” – Bono

“Songwriting ability is a gift. After a while, you come to realize, ‘I’ve really been blessed. I can write these things and it makes me happy, and it makes millions of people happy.’ It’s an obligation, it’s bigger than you. It’s the only true magic I know. It’s not pulling a rabbit out of a hat; it’s real. It’s your soul floating out to theirs.” – Tom Petty

“All I can be is me – whoever that is.” – Bob Dylan

“I always believed that I have something important to say and I said it.” – Lou Reed


I would like to write some more posts about songwriting in the future, what it means to me as a special interest, as a coping mechanism, what it’s given me, and so on. It means so much to me so it would be nice to talk about it more. I mean, it is my biggest special interest and I’ve yet to really talk about special interests on here. Sometimes the list of important topics feels endless, in both a good way and a bad way.