YOU DON'T NEED AN AWARD
One thing I've observed in many other songwriters and performers is the desire to write hits, win awards, blow the top off bestseller lists, attract thick swarms of cameras. They expect validation of their art from every direction except within.
Look, I'd be a liar if I said I don't care what other people think. When somebody listens to a song of mine and admires something about it, it makes my day. And when somebody says, "Hey, I saw you play once; it was awesome!", that's a great feeling.
But as for all the fancy awards and accolades--you don't need them. They won't help you write better songs.
For most performers and writers, there's NO magic moment when suddenly everyone is going to love you and you'll be famous and financially secure for the rest of your days. There's no magic key, and realistically your chances of being lifted to the top are practically zero.
There will be milestones, that's for sure--maybe your first cut that gets published, your first album release, your first (mostly) positive music review. These are incredible highs, worth celebrating. But there'll be moments of doubt and hardship too.
Which is why it pays to be self-sufficient. It really helps to get you through the tough times if you have healthy confidence in yourself and believe in your own art. If you work hard, and if you've got a curious and penetrating mind, you can get really great at what you do. Ask questions. Challenge yourself. Realize that there's always something new to learn. More songs to be written. More music to be made.
Don't rely on anybody else to tell you you're on the right track. There's no way anybody could know that! Just keep working. Write. Perform. Record. Keep digging for material that moves you.
As you progress, your reasons for doing the work will change. You yourself will change. And hopefully you'll find that you don't need all the trappings--you're content to drive a used car--as long as you can do what you love and keep creating.
I guess what I'm getting at here is this: be yourself. Not what a record label, a radio station, your friends, your family, or even your fans want you to be. This is your thing, and it's your gift to the world. Don't give them what they think they want. Give them something better. Give them what they never saw coming.
This guest post comes from Nicholas Tozier from The Halted Clock.