This week I was invited to give a talk to worship leaders and teams about songwriting. I have a lot to learn about communicating and public speaking, especially when its on-command. I find it very natural to take a break during a night of worship and “pour my heart out”, but a formal lecture environment still scares me.
But on the way over, I did manage to come up with three things that might be helpful for the writing process.
1. fall in love with the process - If you see writing as a means to an end, you probably won’t write anything remarkable. I liken this to having children. It’s easy to love the idea of having a big family. It’s another thing to actually learn how to love every stage of raising kids. When Megan and I first starting having children, it was a major adjustment to me. Everett, my oldest, used to scream every time I sat down to the piano. Not what this songwriter wanted to happen with my first child.
Writing is agonizing and you spend much of your time banging your head against the wall just to finish, only to find that its not that good. Then when something good comes out so effortlessly you go back and try to recreate experience only to fail again. AAHHHH!!!
2. give your songs to God - I wrote a song in college about how doing music for a living was like charging tickets to the sunset (I think I’ll charge tickets). This music thing is a gift from God that was freely given. How can I hope to be compensated on something I didn’t pay to get? Seems a bit foolish. Music is a gift and growing in it, practicing it, writing it, singing it is also a gift intended to be given away.
3. no one really knows what they’re doing - Just because I’ve had some songs that have done well and maybe had some opportunities that others haven’t had yet doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing. I used to think Paul Baloche had it all figured out. Now that I’m friends with Paul, I realize he doesn’t know either. Everyone I’ve met that I thought had it together is really just doing the best they know to do and stumbling in the right direction.
Myth-buster: Everyone else feels as clueless as you.
Press on with what God has put in your hands. Don’t give up when it gets hard. Don’t be enamored with what others have that you don’t. There’s no secret wisdom.