In my mind, the single biggest distinction between pro and amateur writers is their way of thinking.
Here are some of the most significant differences I’ve seen over the years in my day to day life as a full-time staff songwriter:
1. Amateurs think “Somebody is going to steal my song.” Pros think, “I’m going to write my idea better than anyone else. If they write it better than I did, more power to them.”
2. Amateurs write when inspiration hits. Pros write anyway.
3. Amateurs think about what they want to write. Pros also think about what audiences want to hear.
4. Amateurs think about writing another song tomorrow. Pros think about writing a BETTER song tomorrow.
5. Amateurs think about getting more pitch opportunities. Pros think about writing a better song.
6. Amateurs don’t pay attention to the market or the charts. Pros STUDY the market and the charts.
7. Amateurs “do what they do.” Pros change and adapt with the market.
8. Amateurs think about getting in the room with a “bigger writer.” Pros think about getting in the room with someone that helps them write better songs, regardless of their success or status.
9. Amateurs demo everything they write. Pros carefully and strategically choose what to demo.
10. Amateurs think everything they write is a “hit.” Pros know that most of what they write are NOT hits.
11. Amateurs compare themselves to other writers and complain about their music not getting enough attention. Pros tend to not worry so much about everyone else and just concentrate on writing better songs than the ones they wrote last week.
12. Amateurs look at their best song as their one shot at success. Pros know that it takes lots of great songs to succeed, so they look at their best song as the song they have to beat the next time they write.
If you want to become a pro, the best place to start is to begin THINKING like a pro. Practice these subtle (and some not so subtle) differences and you will up your game.
Write on, Marty