SongTown USA: Writing from the Child's Heart

When I first began writing, I wrote from an innocent and raw place.

I was 11 years old when i wrote my first song. As I recall, it was about Lee. She lived up the street from me and we had been classmates at school since first grade.

Lee was really cute and funny. She was also very smart. I had a crush on her. Big time.

So I wrote my first song about my first crush.

I had something to say. It came from a place of passion. I wanted so badly to be able to say to Lee what I was writing down on paper.

I imagined myself stopping her as she walked by my house on the way home from school one day and playing her the song I wrote for her. She would cry. I would hug her. We would sail off into the sunset together, although we would have had to be home in time for dinner.

I was able to lay it all on the line in my song. It was not well written, but it was REAL and it was heartfelt. At the time, it was my masterpiece!

I never got up the courage to play the song for Lee or to even tell her that I had a crush on her. Time moved on and so did I. There were other crushes to write about and other real things that I needed to process and put down on paper.

Now, I am in a place where I write every day. The farther I remove myself from my "child's heart" and the more writing becomes a job, the more I fight the temptation to "just write something" instead of writing something that moves me.

In fact, in many ways, these blogs have taken the place of the "real" writing I did in the beginning. Here, I'm able to open my heart to you and to write what I'm feeling on a given day. I'm able to tell you about my passions, my victories, and my disappointments.

As I write this today, I'm challenging myself to stay close to the "child's heart" that guided my writing in the beginning. That's the place where the REAL part of me lives. And that's the place where hit songs will come from, if they come at all.

If you sit down in front of a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen today to write, stop for a moment before you begin. Think about the emotions you are feeling today. Think about what it is that matters MOST to you right now. And write about that.

Don't try to make something up. Just write something down. Something real. Something that MOVES you.

The passion with which you write is more important than the quality of craftsmanship your song displays. If you are REAL in your writing, you can learn to write better songs. If you are not real in your writing, even a perfectly crafted song will come off as stiff and "made up".

Plenty of people can teach you how to write better. No one can teach you how to be real. Your "real" is something only you know. That’s the place where true, universal emotion comes from and THAT is how you connect to people through songs.

Keep it real and write on.

Marty Dodson

Marty Dodson is a songwriter, corporate trainer and entrepreneur. His songs have been recorded by artists such as Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and The Plain White T’s. He once bumped Psy out of the #1 spot on the K-Pop charts but that’s another story for another day. Marty plays Taylor and Batson guitars. Follow him here:, at and at Twitter @SongTownUSA or visit

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