“How are you doing this?” The casual question hung in the silence. Wasn’t the first time I heard it. All I talk about is what I’m doing. And I do a lot. But that’s not what prompts the curiosity. Dropping out of college to work on tech and be a nerd makes sense to people. But moving into songwriting and music from that? That’s trippy.
Obviously, there aren’t many transferable skills between tech and music. And it’s not like I have any musical education. So the jump is uncanny. But I find the path rather simple. Obvious, even. That’s why I had the courage to take it. I think that’s an interesting thread to pull on. Because we’re constantly confronted with things we have no idea how to do. And there’s actually one simple way that you can get almost everything you want. No hallucinogens, coffee, or miracles required.
To show you what it is, let’s talk about music. Now, I don’t know the first thing about music. My cat can read notes better than I can. But you know what? A few weeks ago, when I met the sweetest girl in the world and hatched the brilliant plan of writing music for her, I forgot that I don’t know the first thing about music. And the momentary lapse of memory lasted long enough for me to get a guitar. And a piano. Before I knew it, I was off to the races.
Here’s the thing about music: You have to practice. Sure, it helps to know some music theory to build chord progressions and write melodies. But one big aspect of making music is playing it. And that requires coordination. And coordination requires practice.
I knew that if I wanted to write songs for this girl, I’d have to practice. But not just practice. I’d have to go above and beyond. Because I’m starting out with negative points. I have zero things going for me, musically speaking. Not experience. Not knowledge. And certainly not talent. So if I suddenly wanted to become a bootleg Asian Shawn Mendes, I had some ground to cover. I was going to have to put in some serious work.
So that’s exactly what I did. In my first month as a songwriter, I wrote six original songs from scratch. And I’m writing more every week. I practiced multiple times a day. For hours. I lived and breathed music. Rearranged my entire life around it. Stopped doing plenty of other things just o make time for it. In fact, I barely slept just trying to get more practice in.
Some days, my fingers hurt so bad from playing the guitar that I couldn’t pull my blanket over me when I went to sleep. Other days, I was so sick of playing the same melodies on the piano that I wanted to jump off the balcony. But you know what? It worked. I still don’t know the first thing about music. But I do know enough to know that I’m improving. Besides, I played a few songs for the girl who started all this. And she really liked them. So I must be on the right track.
Anyway, why the sappy love story? Because this is a great example of a powerful truth: How far you go is determined purely by how much you’re willing to sacrifice. How much time will you put in? How much pain? How much energy? How much effort? What are you willing to give up? That determines how well you do. The simplest way to get everything you want is to give everything you have.