5 Reasons Songwriters Need To Know Why They Write


Knowing why you write will make you a happier, more successful songwriter.  Whoa.  That’s a pretty bold statement, isn’t it?  Well, today, I’m going to give you five reasons I believe this is true.  So let’s get to it.

1. It provides direction.

If you know why you write, it’s a lot easier to figure out what to do next.  For example, if you write as a way to preserve family stories and history, then your next step might be to pull out the family photo albums to find ideas.  Or you might want to record some songs as Christmas presents for your family.  On the other hand, if you write songs about fishing that you hope fishermen will buy, you can focus on writing fishing songs and figuring out how to market them to fishermen.

2. It clears the clutter.

Knowing why you write not only provides direction to your writing, it helps you identify what you SHOULDN’T be doing.  For example, if you write songs to get them recorded by others, why are you spending so much time booking your own shows and shopping for stage clothes?  Just go to shows of people that might record your songs and get to know them.  If you write to see kids light up and dance in the living room, you know you can stop making videos and trying to get views on YouTube.  Just find some kids and a living room.

3. It helps you find your tribe.

Or maybe it means you don’t need to find a tribe.  Your tribe is that group of folks who care about what you care about and share similar interests, passions, and goals.  If you write to express your love of beer, maybe you shouldn’t be looking for cowrites at a church choir convention.  Find a band playing in a honky tonk.

4. It helps you spend your time and money wisely.

If you’re writing to hear your song on the radio, you don’t have to spend money demoing that novelty song written in Russian.  You also know you don’t have to watch hours of YouTube videos on “how to write hit songs” if you know you really just want to write songs to cheer up sick children in the hospital.

5. It lets you know which advice and criticism to ignore.

You post a song online and some bonehead rants about how your song, “This Is How You Milk A Cow,” will never get on today’s country radio.  Since you know you write to entertain and educate kids about farming and country life, you can just laugh and go on with your day.  But if they say they were confused because for the whole first verse, they thought you were talking about being an astronaut, then you know you might need a rewrite.

So, yes, I believe you’ll be a happier and more successful songwriter if you can define why you write.  Irrelevant criticism won’t drag you down, and you’ll spend your time and money on things that get you closer to what was important to you deep down anyway.  You’ll have a better idea of which opportunities to pursue and which to ignore.  And you’ll have a better chance of finding like-minded folks with which to share your journey.


So, why do YOU write?  Spend some time thinking about it if you haven’t before.  If you’re feeling really froggy, post it in the comments.  There are no wrong reasons.  Just honest or dishonest ones.


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Brent’s Twitter: @Razorbaxter

Brent Baxter Music:  http://www.brentbaxtermusic.com

16 thoughts on “5 Reasons Songwriters Need To Know Why They Write”

  1. Funny, I thought there would be more comments on this one… Why do I write? I think it is because I can’t quit. I think it is called an addiction.

  2. To work through things in my own life, then share my music with others. I see myself as a goodwill ambassador that can enhance the quality of life of others for the time I am performing. If I can do that with my own songs… bonus all around!

  3. Writing music is a commentary on life. It’s a way of releasing the “Andy Rooney” of the subconscious. After all he gave us astute observations such as “Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them” or “I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” It is useful to have such inspiration for lyrics and the music will surround them.

    1. Hi All, wasn’t too sure what I would gain by signing on to Songwriters…but this has been an opening window of fresh air for me again… I write for expression and interpretation of what is going on around me, the people around me, the world and at times politics and all grounded by my spiritualness. I think I will gain insight here so I will continue..Thanks Brent for the blog and info, as poets, songwriters we are dark, high on life , happy, sad and above all “WIRED DIFFERENTLY”…That s why Writing Is What We Do…. AVERYMELLODEE…thanks again.

  4. I think there are singer-songwriters, like myself, who write, first of all, instinctively innately to express an emotion or experience. It’s who they are and it’s what they do. But, secondly, we singer-songwriters hope to touch the soul, heart or mind (in that order) of the listeners who come to hear them. And through it all, we craft that which we’ve created in a way that would move another artist to record what we do. It’s the latter that your article has moved me to improve.

  5. I’m retired. I don’t need to write to make a living. I love to cowrite. I’d love my songs to be recorded but I won’t die if they’re not. I want to become a Christian/country writer that pro writers want to write with. And it would be a blast to travel with some other friend/writers like Hits and Grins.

  6. I write to tell a story. No matter what my inspiration, I’m trying to entertain my listener with a beginning, middle and end, or as my English Prof put it, set up, conflict and resolution.

  7. I write to tell a story and capture an emotion……and hopefully my song(If crafted well) can move or touch someone. Brent thanks for everything you do…….really appreciate it.

  8. My fiancee actually does the majority of lyrics for our songs. I generally do the musical side of the songs. However, I come from a family of traditional writers. (Daddy successfully published 7 novels. My mom was a well respected technical writer all throughout the late 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, and my brother also published several novels. So I’m not unfamiliar with some of the disciplines of writing. Every now and then though I have a massive brain fart and something wonderful comes out. Now getting those moments published well that another story and why I subscribed to this website and blog posts.
    I write and compose because it’s some kind of natural force inside me. When I mix or write a nice song, the world seems to just get better. (subjective? of course but so what!)
    Part of my joy right now is watching as my fiancee continues to blossom and improve her skills. She never realized until this past year that she has a flare for this and now I often times have to drag her away from her note book when it’s time to sleep or she will do what I do when I’m in the middle of a mix. She will go without stopping till she falls asleep on the couch with pad and pen in hand. Not to mention chain smoking up a whole pack of cigs in one night.
    In summary…writing fills a void in my soul that nothing else does. (same with my fiancee.)


  9. I write lyrics only and need musical collaboration. I am a story teller dealing with current events, personal experience, my thought for the day that just popped in my mind. I am inspired by what I see, I hear and feel so their is emotions attached to my lyrics.

  10. I write because I always have something to say. I write because I know other people are going through what I’m going through. I want to write songs and sing them on stage and see thousands of people at my concerts singing along. After the concert have people come up to me and say, “that song helped me through a difficult time.” Before you know it my songs rises number one on the charts because it relatable and meaniful. I’ll leave off by saying, “You can write and play music everyday but if you do it right, you can spend the rest of your life doing something you love.” Seth A. Hilliard

  11. I write music because I want to inspire at least one person. If I can do that, then I’ve done my job correctly. I want to give someone something to look forward to. Something that will give them hope or change their life in a positive way.

  12. I write first and foremost because it feels good. Writing a song that makes someone feel something, and identify with the song truly is a high. Second…and I’m being real…I really would aspire to write that amazing song that wins Song of the Year at CMA’s. Lofty….but true! And if I am really being honest….I would totally allow someone to record my song and win me that award…but I also want to be out there performing my own tunes as well. Although I play and sing cover songs well, the songs I write are the ones I perform best because they are coming from inside of me, and I can interpret them the best! Have an amazing weekend all!

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