The songwriter who writes for a cause, Nesma El Shazly may have stumbled on the career of songwriting but she tells us how she’s always had a knack for songwriting and why it’s necessary to be passionate, to pursue a creative career and the power of saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way.
What do you do consistently for time management?
I don’t have any consistent habits to manage my time! I’m a very random person, I live it day by day. I don’t go with a time management calendar or plan at all. But I try as much as I can to limit my time. For instance, if I spend to much time at work and I feel like I get consumed with work. I have to get to a point where I take a pause and reflect and go like ” I have to stop”. Because I have to spend time with my kids and my family, to make up for the time I got busy with work and vice versa. I try to balance my time in a way I can measure myself.
What is one resource you wish you knew about when you were starting out?
I wish I knew that there were courses about songwriting before I started songwriting. They call me a natural songwriter. I taught myself the guidelines and structure and everything out of my love for music. So, the two things I wish I knew were: I wish I knew there were workshops and courses for songwriting. I wish I knew the same was available for talent management and courses about how to survive in the music industry. These were one of the things I think would have been very useful. One final thing to mention is that when I was starting out there was no internet. There was no accessibility for information like there is today. I wish at the time I was starting out I had access to online courses, to motivational videos. I’ve discovered motivational videos really make a difference in a person.
What’s the best career advice anyone has ever given you?
The best career advice I ever got was to follow my intuition and to follow my guts. Without fail, every time I do so I’m always right. The other piece of advice is “There is no such thing as quitting”. When someone is pursuing a career or a certain passion or something they wish they could do there is no space for quitting. There is no option for it. There are times where I’ve tried my best at something and I feel like I didn’t get to the results I wanted. Times like these, I can just take a pause, reflect and see where the drawbacks or what’s holding me back. Then, I start the journey again. But for me to quit is not an option.
What do you do to motivate yourself when you feel like giving up?
Actually, I never felt like giving up. I think this is something built in my character, it’s built in my DNA. I don’t go to this mindset of giving up, to begin with. What motivates me to push forward is looking back on where I started and where I am now. I always see how much I’ve evolved and how far I’ve gotten on my journey. This makes me feel like “There’s no way to stop now! I’m not going to come this far to stop this far!”If I remain with the same level of focus and perseverance I will get to where I want to go.
So, for me, giving up is not an option. I never thought of it. I’m very driven by passion and that’s what drowns out any thoughts I might have had about giving up. For me, I just keep going until I get to the results that I want to get to at any cost. Yes, there will be obstacles and challenges along the way but everything in life has a solution. Everything in life can be overcome because we are the ones who put ourselves in the “giving up” or “I can’t” mindset, it’s all psychological. So, I don’t give my mind the chance to even think in that direction.
How did you transition from writing to songwriting?
Songwriting was always there. I’ve been writing songs since I was 11 years old all due to how much I love music. I’m not a musician, so this was my only way to express my love for music through writing. I never imagined that I would write something that one of these days was going to be sung and produced and that I’d be able to share it with the world. I used to write songs only for myself. To me, it was like a hobby next to writing because ever since I was in university people would tell I was a good writer. They would tell me I had a very good writing style. Then, I began working in magazines so I was writing more. I started to acknowledge the fact that I’m talented as a writer.
Still, I didn’t get the chance to see a song that I’ve written come to life until I worked with Hisham Kharma. Kharma wanted to do a song that was cheerful, a song about happiness. Without seeing my previous writings, he knew that I was very expressive. He told me “I feel like you could write something worth singing, write the lyrics, why not give it a try?”. Obviously, I was a little bit intimidated in the beginning because I’ve never been through the process of actually writing a song. And yet, I told him “I’ll give it a shot and we’ll see how it goes”. Then when it came out, it was a very good song, people loved it and people connected with it.
Ever since that day, he has been handing me opportunities of songwriting. Every single time, I meet the expectations of everyone whether it be a client or a cause. I learned then, that this was always my calling but I was waiting for the right opportunity to share it with the world. So, for me these two things were always in parallel, being a songwriter and being a writer. But songwriting came to light a lot later than my established career as an author and writer.
Photographer: Khaled Marzouk
MUA: Menna El Telt