For some artists, songwriting is a business, for others it’s how they share their mountain highs and valley lows, and Ne-Yo is no different. The hit maker was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame last night and shared how the exercise of putting his feelings on paper changed his life.

According to Billboard, Ne-Yo was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award, which is typically given to young artists who’ve made a significant impact with their music.

The artist told the room of some 900 people, “I was a pretty riled up little kid, and if not for my mom giving me the pad and the pen and telling me to take my emotions and put them there, then there was no telling then I might I have been sticking you up or something.”

Ne-Yo is responsible for numerous hits across several genres of music including Beyoncé’s “Flaws and All” and “Irreplaceable,” Rihanna’s “Take a Bow” and Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight” among dozens more.