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By Jon Nicol - 07/19/2003 - 01:40 PM EDT

Courage. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, and difficulty.” It is easy to forget how vital courage is as a songwriting “tool.” Courage…

Courage to make the umpteenth phone call for the day, suspecting yet another rejection is crouching around the corner.

Courage to hope for a yes, but ready to roll with a no.

Courage to turn off the TV and do what you know you need to be doing.

Courage to relax and give yourself permission to shut off your mind, watch some TV, or read a novel.

Courage to be alone with yourself.
Courage to trust a writing partner.

Courage to finally call the local recording studio and schedule time.

Courage to avoid the predictable, easy rhyme and the cliché that “works every time.” Pun intended.

Courage to listen to the radio in order to appreciate, enjoy and learn rather than to criticize, envy, or imitate.

Courage to put a song away for a week, month, year. See what the absence does to it.

Courage to make sacrifices so you can walk that road that’s been waiting for you. But never forget—no song and its success is worth trading in your spouse and your kids and your family and your friends.

Courage to write about what matters, not what “will make it.”

Courage to recognize you might only be a drop in the ocean of songwriters. But even drops can make ripples.

Courage to be simple.

Courage to sing your song before it’s “polished.”

Courage to hang in there.

Courage to say, “I’m a songwriter,” even though you may never be published.

Courage to take the time to learn the guitar, or the piano, or to sing--just so your song can be heard.

Courage to write about something other than “love.” The Beatles did it. They did OK for themselves.

Courage to forgive those who dismiss your dream; yet never let their lack of vision hinder your sight.

Courage to tell your worship leader or pastor, “I’ve got this song…”

Courage to dive into the deep well of past pain--you might just come up with some healing water for someone else’s heart.

Courage to learn as much as you can about the rules of your craft.
Courage to break the rules.

Courage to write about your fears.

Courage to laugh at yourself and forgive yourself.

Courage to get up 20 minutes earlier to "find the time” to write.

Courage to ignore the clock when “the stuff” is flowing.

Courage to spend 60 bucks on a voice recorder to keep in your car for those moments of “this could be something.”

Courage to drive down the road and ignore the people who stare at you because you’re singing your latest “this could be something” into your voice recorder.

Courage to just pull over until the inspiration is has been captured.

Courage to hear ruthless honesty about your song.

Courage to play in one of those coffeehouses or bars where no one seems to listen or care that you’re there.

Courage, when someone says how much they like your song, to graciously say, “Thank you so much,” when all you want to say is, “It still sucks.”

Courage to remember that the worst critics will tell you only what you want to hear. The “best” critics are the honest ones. An honest one with tact and sensitivity helps too.

Courage to be your own “best” critic.

Courage to separate your identity from your successes and failures. Be yourself, not another person’s perception of who you are.

Courage to venture, persevere, withstand. Courage to be a songwriter.

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