My breakthrough in songwriting was a process.

I started writing at age twelve and continued through high school and then took a worship leader job at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City at the age of eighteen.

As I continued in this full-time position of leading worship twelve to fifteen hours a week, I began to quickly identify some of the hindrances I was experiencing with my songwriting.

Most songwriters I’ve talked with over the years say that they have experienced one or more of these six hindrances:

1. Fear.

Fear that people won’t like your song. Fear that your song isn’t deep enough. Fear that your song isn’t catchy enough. Fear of failure. Fear that people will think you’re prideful and self-promoting when you do your own songs.

I used to look at people in a worship service who didn’t look outwardly expressive during my songs and actually think that they were upset because I was playing my song or that they thought it wasn’t good or that I was prideful.

Fear was one of the biggest strongholds keeping me from writing.

There were two big things that helped me overcome fear. The first was sharing my struggles with a close friend and asking for prayer. The second was putting a little melody to the scripture, The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power and love, and a sound mind. This may sound overly simple, but by singing this scripture over myself whenever I was fearful, I began to see breakthrough.

Fear used to be one of the biggest strongholds that kept me from songwriting. Click To Tweet

2. Lack of diligence.

Having a desire to write or feeling called to write is like seeing a doorway right in front of you. But you can’t walk through that door until you take the initiative, put one foot in front of the other, and actually step through.

To make your dream into a reality takes scheduling, getting accountable, and following through. Set up some parameters and accountability in your songwriting in order to be diligent.

Sometimes you’re going to feel so dry and nothing within you is going to want to follow through with that “Songwriting” appointment on your calendar. Don’t bank on inspiration alone to get you into your writing session. Resolve in your heart to show up even on the days when you don’t feel like it.

Don’t bank on inspiration alone to get you into your writing session. Resolve in your heart to show up even on the days when you don’t feel like it. Click To Tweet

3. Lack of depth.

If you want to build an outstanding, breathtaking skyscraper, you have to build a solid foundation first. Do you have genuine depth in your relationship with God that comes through prayer and encounter with His word on a consistent basis? Create a reservoir within from which to draw as you write. There’s studying the Bible to get facts, but then there’s studying the Bible devotionally. You could read commentaries and study theology all day long, but meditating on the scriptures and going deep instead of wide will open up greater depths in your songwriting.

Do you have genuine depth in your relationship with God that comes through prayer and encounter with His word on a consistent basis? Create a reservoir within from which to draw as you songwrite. Click To Tweet

4. Comparison.

Envy is a killer. Unhealthy comparison sucks the life out of your heart.

It’s great to look at others to glean from them and be challenged. But beware of your heart going from a healthy challenge into envious distraction. The minute that YouTube video or your Facebook feed makes you feel uninspired about moving forward because you’re disgruntled or disappointed about how your situation isn’t measuring up to that other person, church, or ministry—stop and run the opposite direction. Say a quick prayer of blessing for the person or ministry and then get your focus back.

What’s God called you to do? That needs to be your focus.

A grateful heart is a key to growth. Thank God for what He’s given you and start writing.

Don't compare yourself to other songwriters. Pray a lot, focus, and follow through on what God's asked you to write. Click To Tweet

5. Lack of skill.

Some people believe they don’t have enough skill to write songs. Even if you don’t have the skill now, the good news is that it can be developed. You are limited only by your desire. There are many ways to grow in the skill of songwriting. Three simple but great FREE options are finding online resources, reading books on the area in which you need to grow, and starting to co-write with people more experienced than you.

Songwriting is not always a gloriously inspired experience. Knowing this in advance will help you push through the dry times to the gold that is waiting beyond them. Click To Tweet

6. Idealistic view.

Songwriting is not a continual experience of glorious inspiration. There are times when you’re going to feel dry and think that you have nothing to say. By understanding this in advance, you can prepare yourself to push through the dry times to the gold that is waiting beyond them. Every single person on the face of the earth, no matter how amazing their YouTube video looks, has seasons where they feel dry and uninspired. You’re signing up for the rhythms of songwriting inspiration. Know that ahead of time and you’ll be set up for success.

Remember that the people who will hear your songs have also experienced lonely, dry, uninspired seasons. They don’t need to hear from someone who’s “always inspired.” They need to hear from someone who has been where they are and understands the valleys and not only the mountaintops.

Every single person on earth has seasons where they feel dry and uninspired. Sign up for the rhythms of songwriting inspiration and you sign up for success. Click To Tweet

For me, overcoming these hindrances meant praying for God’s help, meditating on scriptures filled with the truth of who God says I am, and also actively warring against the hindrances. For example, if I was struggling with fear, I would face that fear dead on by doing the opposite of what my fear said.

Having victory in these areas doesn’t mean that they don’t still try to creep up from time to time. However, you’ll become a lot quicker to recognize them, combat them, and get back to creating with a free, open heart.

What obstacles have you encountered when trying to write songs? I would love to read your comments below.

Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Zion National Park, Utah . Check out more of his work here.

I’m Justin Rizzo. I enable worship leaders who feel isolated, overworked, and unfocused to experience peace, confidence and create thriving worship communities.

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Light of the World (Acoustic)


  1. Cheryl M Willis

    I don’t often write songs – but when things come for me…
    Most come out of Scripture.
    Context. Story. Application. Emotion.
    Did I interpret things correctly?
    Did I get the “picture” and am I conveying so others can see, relate and understand?
    I fear heresy…and since my writing isn’t “original text” — it can be a bit scary.
    It’s easiest to just sing the Psalms — trying to make the words fit in the rhythm & not fret over the lack of rhyme at times can be a bit of a challenge!

  2. Such a good article, very encouraging. I have found that having my instrument notepad with me as I study the Bible and pray, it seems to flow really well together to read, declare and then worship to press in or keep reading and praying.
    I have also foudn that songs are also like prophetic words to be released in a season. Waiting for confirmation for when and where and how to use them is key. Also, the greenhouse effect. The song stays in the greenhouse, I keep pouring it out to Him, He can change it and with the seasons some do and others never progress and that’s ok. I have learned to just enjoy the process and encourage others to start writing songs too.

  3. Aleksandra

    hi Justin!
    Thank You for the article!
    I’m just trying to overcome my hindrances in songwriting, that’s why I found your blog 🙂
    My question is: how your whay from “nothing” to the worship song (with lyrics, chords, arrangemente etc.) looks like?
    some patterns, steps, ways of thinking…

    1. Justin Rizzo

      Hey Aleksandra, thanks for your comment and question. I will be talking a lot more about the specifics of the process and also offering a class soon on songwriting. Stay tuned!

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