Five for Fighting on deliberate practice and writing 100s of bad songs

I just interviewed one of my favorite singers, John Ondrasik (known as “Five for Fighting”) for While the interview will be up in 2 weeks, I thought I’d share a few snippets that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for the next few days.

– He achieved his first hit in his late 20s – Superman. He called himself another example of a 20 year overnight sensation with more than 20,000 hours spent working on his music.

– He graduated with a degree in Applied Science and Mathematics from UCLA just in case his music career didn’t work out. His mom was a piano teacher and his dad was an engineer and their influences in his choices are strong and obvious.

– While he wrote Superman in one hour, it took him more than 3 months to write his 2nd hit – 100 years. He described getting that second big hit very hard because music studios want you to regurgitate what has worked. A great work ethic, a willingness to stand up for yourself and a bit of luck is what he said he needed.

– When speaking of his creative process, he said he advised young songwriters to write 100s of bad songs. Superman was one of a 100 songs he wrote that year. He also spoke of how he made sure he spent a lot of time outdoors when looking for inspiration. If he felt stuck, he’d take a 2 hour hike and write outside. Staying healthy and happy helps him a lot.

– Finally, when talking of an idea that inspired him – he spoke about the idea of taking nothing and making something out of it. Artists, creators, and entrepreneurs do it. It’s result may be a low note or a high note – it almost doesn’t matter because true happiness lies in the journey.

His thoughts are a lovely collection of the many ideas that this blog stands for. It’s a great reminder that there are no shortcuts. More to follow on the interview soon.

And, thanks for taking the time, John.