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The Story of "Imaginary Friends" and "Real Songs"

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The Story of Imaginary Friends and Real Songs

Question: My songs don't end up sounding like what I imagined. What can I do?

Answer: The problem is that one song is imaginary and the other is real.

I'm not trying to be funny. This is a very important point...

That fact that we hear music and that it exists is an objective fact. It can be measured. It's real.

I'm real. You're real. And when we were kids, we probably had imaginary friends.

But you outgrew your imaginary friends.

I'm not saying you're crazy if you talk to yourself from time to time (it might mean you're a genius!) but you no longer keep the company of imaginary friends.

Just like imaginary friends, it's easy to cling to imaginary ideas of how your songs will sound when they become real.

But, you stopped clinging to fantasies and (SPOILER ALERT!) the tooth fairy a long time ago.

If you want something to be real, you have to make it real.

Make real music. Warts and all.

It's the only way you get better and it's the only way you bring your imagination and reality closer together.

Quick example...

I bet you can imagine yourself singing melodies far beyond your range or even with an entirely different voice. But if you tried to make those sounds come from your own voice, you couldn't do it.

(As hard as I try, I don't sound like Stevie Wonder even though I can imagine myself sounding exactly like him.)

Wouldn't it be great if what you heard in your imagination was closer to what you could achieve? Or vice versa, if you could make music that was closer to what you imagined?

Let me bring the point home again...

To bring your imagination and reality closer together, you have to make more real music.

Your sound is waiting to be discovered and let loose.

Forget about your imaginary masterpiece and make some real music.

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11 Responses to The Story of "Imaginary Friends" and "Real Songs"

  1. Genero December 19, 2015 at 11:14 AM #

    Awesome post Graham! I never thought about it that way.

    • Graham English December 20, 2015 at 9:18 AM #

      Thanks, Genero! Great to see you here. 🙂

  2. Fatimah The Lyrical Angel Dixon December 20, 2015 at 8:20 AM #

    I love when confirmation comes, I spoke with my mentor the other day and this was sort of a reference. I can definitely understand the difference between the two, but I did tell him I have to get the music and message or of my head so that others can hear what I hear! I will remember that the next time I complain about my own voice!

    • Graham English December 20, 2015 at 9:20 AM #

      It's a struggle every musician faces. But making your imagination and reality match is much easier once you recognize the struggle and know how to handle it. 🙂

  3. Nikolaus Liedlein July 11, 2016 at 11:41 AM #

    That was a fine one, thank you.

  4. Trevor Dimoff July 11, 2016 at 7:34 PM #

    I agree Graham, this happens to me all the time. But it also means that that I can imagine better than I can write (yet), which is a good thing, there's more to learn!

    Time for me to go write and continue improving my skills.

  5. Domingo Lopez July 12, 2016 at 1:50 PM #

    Graham , I need your help please. I have someone interesDted in buying two songs that I wrote. They are copyrighted by me. I have never sold any material. What do you suggest? Thanks, Dom

    • Graham English July 13, 2016 at 11:25 AM #

      Congrats! Contact an entertainment lawyer in your area to help you with the negotiation.

  6. Sam Kearns December 20, 2016 at 7:02 PM #

    I've been writing songs for a couple of years now and have always struggled with getting songs finished and being blocked. Lately I've been very intentional about letting songs be what they are instead of what I wished they were. The problem is, when they are done I just don't like them, and so I have no desire to show them to other people or play them or promote them. They're just these odd little things that I don't feel connected to.

    This gets pretty frustrating. After a while I fell like i am wasting my time developing my song writing in directions that just aren't taking me where I want to go. I'm struggling to understand the point of it.

    • Graham English December 28, 2016 at 10:08 AM #

      You have to keep writing and deliberately practice the aspects of your writing that you're not satisfied with. And you may need to work on your mindset and focus on how far you've come, not how far you have yet to go. Every song written is a step forward. If you look at your current songs and compare them against ideal songs, that's going to create frustration, stress, and low self-worth. But if you look at your current results and measure your improvement, you'll create confidence and motivation. The big difference in a positive mindset is that you measure your wins and growth against your starting point instead of measuring your progress against your future idealized goal.

      Keep focusing on how far you've come, not how far you have left to go.

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