Imagine this with me. You’re in a groove of writing songs. Every lyric and melody just fits like a glove. You’re deeply connected with your style and you are finding inspiration with everything. Until it’s not like that. You hit a writer’s block. You thought you were immune to that kind of stuff. And it almost feels like you’ve been robbed of joy and everything you write now just doesn’t satisfy your creative appetite. Maybe you start to feel like you have to retire and leave songwriting to some other younglings who are hungrier. It’s super dramatic I know, but this is actually a feeling we face as creative people, especially songwriters. How do you get back up? What’s the remedy to this? I want to suggest from my experiences what I have learned so that the fresh expressions of worship in our lives doesn’t cease.
I want to start by saying that being a songwriter is not easy. It’s a skill you develop more than a talent you can use. The best songwriters, or those who keep producing fresh things, are those who understand seasons. One of the first steps in songwriting then is understanding and accepting seasons change. Imagine God is creating in the 7 days and He finishes the plants and trees on day 3. Day 4 rolls around and God says “man the creation on day 3 was so good in my eyes, let’s do it again.” Now day 5 and He says “you know what I am thinking Son and Holy Spirit? Let’s do plants and trees again.” And you wouldn’t believe this but now on day 6 nothing else has been created. I have just painted a picture of how people create when they do not understand seasons.
The purposes of God in your personal life and the Church as a whole is marked by seasons.
And when you do not change the lyric of your song, and express the new things God wants to do or is presently doing, you will stay stuck in the worship of last season. As you know, seasons go in cycles, so you’ll eventually return to that place. I am sure that the well you’ve dug will sprout new waters, but I encourage you to abandon the same lyrics and search for the fresh revelation in the different seasons. If what you feel in this season is doubt and uncertainty, maybe write on faith, courage, or the faithfulness of God. If you are in a season of pain, remind yourself of the kindness and nearness of the Lord. One of the first things is accepting seasons and realizing your songs to the Lord document a journey of love and growing. David knew a lot about that. His songs were directly in line with his life and seasons. What you do not want is to forsake your intimacy with God in the present season for love of the last season.
Looking back is great only when it is used to move forward.
To write songs in varying seasons, stop trying to be relevant in everyone’s eyes.
In the society we live in, the standard of what is great and worthwhile is always changing. If we aren’t careful we might actually be measuring our work by the wrong standard. The best worship to God is the honest, biblical, and love-centered kind. There is definitely more to be said about biblical songwriting and how we should do it but I will use these examples today to express my point. When you are not a faithful songwriter, you will always end up writing for the approval of man and not of God. Lots of times when writing I wonder, “eh will people sing this?” or “this is so not the vibe for Sunday morning”. And it strikes me there to repent because what I have done is decide if my songwriting is good based on if others like it and not if it brings glory to God and shows my love for Him. My lyrics might not be conventional in one song and others might not sing it, and that is fine! It means you are writing something personal, something that is for the ears of your Father only. But if we have the wrong measure we will always look for hits and pervert our search of Scripture to make a song that people like and not one that actually emanates from love for Him. When you get writers blocked ask if it’s because you are trying to be relevant and liked by others. There’s material to sing about in Scripture and your life, so stop trying to fit the material in the box of the wrong standard. Connecting with lyrics is good in congregational worship, and there is space for writing songs congregations can sing. But it starts in our personal writing. Let’s try to be authentic and set the pace for how mature worship sounds. If we do maybe congregational songs will start to have a more vast and profound expression of worship.
True good songwriting is for the Lord and not for man.
The best advice for songwriting is to be in communion with Him.
When we stretch our ability to commune with God we realize that we do not have to reach Him by the same avenue. Songwriting is just one tool to commune with God, but our God is one who can meet you outside your preference. Perhaps your songwriting will increase when you begin to commune with God in prayer outside, or when you listen to Scripture on a run. There is no set way we have to connect and hear the voice of God. It doesn’t have to be speaking in tongues while you pray in the dark more than while you make coffee in the morning.
Limiting where God inspires us can stunt the development of beautiful songs.
I am mostly known in my circles as the man who wrote his first song while in the shower. Trust me I love that song and its story is always humbling to say the least. Oddly enough though, I have never written a song there again. I might one day, but I am happy that I expanded the places and ways that God can inspire me. What matters most is that we have a heart that wants to be in communion with Him. I truly believe that you reading this has the potential to not give in to being conformed with what you have or what you usually do. Songwriting in varying seasons can be tricky but I believe these principles can inspire and help you to say that you will grow in your songwriting while growing in your relationship with God.