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.

Quotes That Helped Me (Hard Work Edition)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about hard work recently, putting in the hours, motivation, effort, and all of those sorts of things. I’ve always been someone who’s constantly working on something and that’s gotten worse during the pandemic, to the point where I feel guilty if I’m not working (I’m aware of how unhealthy that is and I’m working on it in therapy). I think that’s the new toxic positivity (not that that’s gone), the new idea that’s posed as good but when taken too far is actually really damaging: toxic productivity. I mean, I can see where it came from: telling people that working hard will get them further in life than hoping they’ll get lucky or whatever isn’t inherently bad but when you have famous or notable people saying that they never took a day off or are advising people to never let up… it’s well intentioned but it can sink into the brain and become something dangerous and unhealthy. It can create a mindset that sees valuable fun and relaxation and decompression time as a waste when it’s not only necessary for our health but can have beneficial and important results, like helping us to better regulate our emotions or inspire bright and shiny new ideas.

So I’ve tried to put together a collection of quotes that are about working hard but don’t encourage that work-yourself-to-the-edge-of-mental-stability mentality. At least that’s what I hope I’ve done. Hopefully they’re as helpful and inspiring to you as they have been for me.


“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.” – Iain Duncan Smith

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Saint Francis

“The level path is easy, but it will not bring you to the mountaintop.” – Dr. Idel Dreimer

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” – John C. Maxwell

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

“Let us remember then that we were made to do hard things, not easy, for if we do nothing but what is easy we will not go forward; then, as there is no standing still in the universe, we will degenerate, so that by doing something a little harder each time we prepare ourselves against something really hard.” – The Agricultural Journal

“Never slow down for the world, one day it will catch up with you.” – Nike

“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.” – Ben Hogan

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm, and genuine people.” – Tena Desae

“Sometimes in life you have an appointment with destiny, and sometimes you just have to get destiny to squeeze you in.” – Robert Brault

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Don’t work for recognition but do work worthy of recognition.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill

“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.” – Mark Cuban (I think, particularly in some industries, money and connections absolutely determine a level of success but overall, in the long run, hard work and learning everything you can will get you further in life and make your achievements all the more satisfying.)

“Inspiration is the windfall from hard work and focus. Muses are too unreliable to keep on the payroll.” – Helen Hanson

“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.” – Eva Young

“If you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.” – Taylor Swift


I’m not gonna lie, I love being productive: I love working through a list, ticking things off, feeling like I’ve accomplished things at the end of every day, but I’m also aware that while this urge to be productive can be helpful, it can border on pretty unhealthy. As I said, I’m working on it. Productivity can be (and should be) beneficial in our lives, not a tightrope we walk where we’re trying not to fall into unhealthy habits. Hopefully these quotes reflect that perspective rather than a toxic one.

What about you guys? What quotes do you use to motivate yourself? Please throw them in the comments!

Quotes That Helped Me (Growth Edition)

I’ve been thinking a lot about growth recently. I’ve been thinking about my own personal, emotional, and creative growth but also about growth in general, how we’re growing and changing all the time, due to both external and internal influences. And as I often do whenever turning over thoughts like these ones, I went looking for quotes. They help me make sense of my thoughts and prompt new avenues of thought. So I thought I’d share some of the quotes I found during some of my musings…


“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” – Abraham Maslow

“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

“Be patient with yourself. You are growing stronger every day. The weight of the world will become lighter… and you will begin to shine brighter. Don’t give up.” – Robert Tew

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren

“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” – Stephen Covey

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” – Anais Nin

“Rocks in my path? I keep them all. With them I shall build my castle.” – Nemo Nox

“I saw my earlier selves as different people, acquaintances I had outgrown. I wondered how I could ever have been some of them.” – Roger Zelazny

“Catch on fire if you must, sometimes everything needs to burn to the ground so that we may grow.” – A.J. Lawless

“Transitions are almost always signs of growth but they can bring feelings of loss. To get somewhere new, we may have to leave somewhere else behind.” – Fred Rogers

“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.” – George Shinn

“Life is all about growth and change. It’s not static. It’s not about some destination.” – Bill Burnett

“Always realize that you can get better. Your best work has not been done yet.” – Les Brown

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You won’t have time to make them all yourself.” – Alfred Sheinwold

“If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake.” – Eli Siegel

“People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” – Thomas Szasz

“You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” – Alan Alda

“Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be.” – Robert Brault

“If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found.” – Author Unknown

“Learning how to operate a soul figures to take time.” – Timothy Leary

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather

“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.” – Josephine Hart

“Living is being born slowly. It would be a little too easy if we could borrow ready-made souls.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Real birthdays are not annual affairs. Real birthdays are the days when we have a new birth.” – Ralph Parlette

“Readjusting is a painful process, but most of us need it at one time or another.” – Arthur Christopher Benson

“Growth is the only evidence of life.” – John Henry Newman

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” – Douglas Adams


Hopefully this selection of quotes has been inspiring. Inspiring rather than pressuring. Yes, growth is important but that doesn’t mean we have to strive for at it all times. Rest and the ability to be still are important too. As the quote goes, “There is literally nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so do not expect yourself to do so.” (I can’t find a reliable source for this quote so let me know if you see it attributed to someone.) We want and need different things at different times. But, if you’re ever in need of a little inspiration, this post will be here.