Wynonna, Cactus Moser Suggest Patience and Working Past the Suck on Songwriting

Country superstars Wynonna and her husband Cactus Moser have decades of multiplatinum musical success under their belts – yet they’re still so enthusiastic about their craft that even the current COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop them from working: they recorded Recollections, their new EP (released on October 30) at home while they were in lockdown.

Wynonna has a simple piece of advice for aspiring songwriters who wish to be similarly prolific: “You have to work past ‘I suck,’” she says. To explain what she means, she lists the thought process that she sees many artists going through as they work on a song: “Number one. ‘This is amazing!’ Number two: ‘Man, this is tricky.’ Number three: ‘This sucks.’ Number four: ‘I suck.’ And number five: ‘God, this is amazing.’

Wynonna knows all about this from personal experience, as well: “I’m thinking back to those times when I almost walked away, saying, ‘This is so stupid, wrong, bad – I’m bad, this sucks.’ And I worked past that.”

Writing something that feels worthy will be more likely, Moser says, if you “Find any way you can to write about something that’s honestly what you really feel or believe. You’ve got to speak about something that’s really truthfully real to you, or you’re never going to get to something good about it.”

To do that, Moser says, “You have to sit there and be patient and persevere. It’s not like, ‘Let’s write for three hours and then we’re done.’ More often than not, that’s a great start – but if you give up too quickly, you don’t get to what’s really the heart of the song.”

Wynonna agrees that patience is key. “It’s like, for God’s sake, just sit in the room. Allow time. I think that’s the biggest thing I can say to people. If you’re trying to do this based on time or appointment? No, no, no. Hang in there a little longer, [and] you might come up with your favorite thing – it happens!”

Whatever process a songwriter decides works best, Moser says it’s important to approach it with discipline. “If you’re going to do this, do it daily,” Moser says. “I’ve lived that for over 35 years – I’ve written every single day, one way or another. It has changed how it works for me.”

Even with all this experience, Moser adds that he’s still finding out new things about the writing process, and he urges other writers to stay open-minded, as well. As he says, “Songwriting is an ongoing, never-ending learning process.”

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