Clarify Your Reason for Songwriting
Songwriting doesn’t just happen. It takes works and intentionality.
In order to put in the hours it takes to be consistent, you have to start by clarifying your “why.”
These three questions below are the first thing I ask people when talking about songwriting. Take a few moments and think about your answers. Don’t search for the “right” answer. Just pay attention to the first two or three things that come to your mind.
1. What’s your history with songwriting?
When was the first time you felt a desire to write? Is it a dream you’ve always had? Is there someone you respect that you were inspired by? Do you feel God has called you to write? Maybe songwriting is a brand new desire and you don’t have any history. There’s no right or wrong answer, but getting clarity and beginning to understand your own songwriting history will be helpful.
2. What’s your expectation with songwriting?
Being a songwriter may sound glamorous, but it takes real work. If your expectation is perpetual warm and fuzzy feelings, you’ll be disappointed and probably give up quickly. There will be some amazing inspirational times, but your expectation should be that it’s going to be a labor of love. I have no interest (and neither do you) in signing up for labor alone. But a labor of love? I can do that. A labor of love is something I’m doing because of love and with a spirit of love. For me, my expectation is that songwriting will require hard work, but I know that it’s worthwhile because the payoff is my heart and the hearts of others being drawn closer to God. That’s a worthy investment and the kind of expectation that will help me persevere when it gets tiresome and I feel uninspired.
3. What’s your success meter for your songwriting?
Are you wanting to write corporate Godward-focused songs for your church to sing on Sunday morning? Are you writing songs to sing in more of a house-of-prayer setting where the goal is meditation and soaking? Do you want to write journey-of-the-heart type story songs? Having a goal will help give you the diligence to push through when the well feels dry and the process is difficult.
You don’t have to have your reasons fully figured out. But as you spend time thinking and praying about this, clarity will come, and so will your motivation to give yourself to the craft of songwriting.
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Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Banff, AB, Canada. Check out more of his work here.