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The Love-Hate Relationship I Have with Songwriting

Updated: 6 days ago

I have been writing lots.

Not on social media or Microsoft Word, nor on this blog (which I have shamefully neglected). In these past two months, I have been writing lots in my $2.50 lined notebook with just a pen (sometimes a pencil), about all the things my heart whispers in the quiet of the night, and all the emotions my heart wants to sing.

My story in songwriting began when I returned to study music two years ago.

I’ve been playing the piano for 30 years. I learnt what I needed in my youth through classical music training.

Then, I had to grow up. Life happened. Life also fell apart. I was lost for a long time; living in a fog, and sometimes I couldn’t tell what was real and what was not.

At one point, I learnt that I had to do something nourishing for my soul again.

When the opportunity came to return to school, I took a chance (and a risk) to study music again. That’s when I unexpectedly discovered songwriting.

Songwriting for me is an intricate process, from the moment a thought or an idea comes to mind; it may linger in my head for a bit, or it might stay and convince me to reach for the notebook to pen it down.

I am still discovering this complicated process of writing, as sometimes it doesn’t come to me in words. Sometimes, it appears to me in a series of sounds. I start to hum or sing it. Then maybe it eventually attaches to a word (or a few words).

If I’m smart and mindful at the point of discovery, I’ll record the idea either on paper or my voice recorder on the smartphone. Otherwise, it gets lost in translation, and I feel utterly stupid for not capturing it, and for dreaming of something crazy and unrealistic.

It is also not very ideal to capture it when I am unexpectedly awoken at 2 A.M. and I’m trying to fall back asleep.

Most times, melodies come to me in the quietest, most mundane moments of my day. It happens especially when I am loading the dishwasher or doing the dishes (I don’t know why).

While I love the aspect of freedom in my artistic journey, I can also fall into a trap of hating the outcome of it and the tangled emotions I deal with after releasing my raw feelings into a story.

Sculpted, scratched, and sanded down to reveal some naked truth inside of me.

I have written lots before in blogs, letters, journals, and diaries. However, writing a song is so different.

It compels me to write a story with a complex set of musical elements crafted from somewhere within my heart, which has been both healing, and scary.

I love the creation of something new and unique, yet there is also a fear to share them with the world.

This is exactly the love-hate relationship I go through each time I write a song. If you’re an artist or a creative, do you ever feel that way too in your medium of art?

In the past year of writing songs, I’ve released three which have been unexpectedly healing for me;

Greatest Gift; a song I wrote as a gift to the music instructors who lost their jobs from the abrupt closure of the music program at the college where I was studying at.

Pink Walls, a song that was written from the perspective of a child; revealing a child’s memory of growing up with violence in the home, and their journey to make peace with the past.

And, Sandcastle; a romance story with ocean vibes that echoes feelings of heartbreak from knowing the person you love stays only for the best parts and gives you up at your worst.

I’ve learnt so much about myself, and coming to terms with my own trauma. I never knew music could be this powerful, especially from the creation side.

I’ve always been taught to play other people’s music, but I guess for as long as I can remember I have always yearned to create. I feel it is a way of making sense of this complex thing we call “life”.

And the most surprising part of it all, is when the art emotionally impacts someone. I’ve never made anyone cry before with my music. And to know that I can help someone heal or process their emotions this way, has been very rewarding.

If you are a songwriter, how has writing songs impacted your personal life? Tell me, I'd love to hear your story!

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