Plays Well With Others (Sort Of…)

1 Comment » Written on February 19th, 2010     
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One very difficult part of songwriting is the first time you share your new idea. Your song idea, your “baby” sees the light of day for the first time and is put at risk of criticism. But, as a songwriter that is committed to giving God your very best, it is a vitally important thing to do, even if it is emotionally difficult.

You need a “Trustworthy Truth-Teller” for developing your songwriting. Not necessarily a co-writer – though some people really thrive in that situation – just someone who can provide some solid, honest, caring, constructive feedback.

If you’re looking for someone like that, here’s some tips.
1. Find someone you can trust. Someone who knows and loves you and is committed to seeing your work become the very best it can be. This relationship will take time to develop, because you don’t know right away if the person is committed to both. Someone who feels like they are competing with you for attention will not be helpful.

2. Find someone who tells the truth. The rare gift is someone who can lovingly tell you that something you’ve done isn’t very good – AND you can deeply trust that they have said it not because they want you to feel bad (even though you might feel bad for a while) but because they love you and want your gifts to thrive.

The best songwriters receive constructive criticism from loving critics.

Start with small steps. Ask someone you think you might be this kind of a person for an opinion about a song of yours – or a section of a song – that you already know isn’t that good. (You know that not EVERYTHING you write is gold!) See what they say. See if they are loving and honest. If they are, trust them with something more. You’ll grow in your trust of them and become increasingly open to the constructive input of others along the way.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to develop these kinds of “trustworthy truth-teller” relationships across the Covenant Church?

If you are interested in connecting with someone with whom you could potentially have this kind of relationship – leave a comment to this article, and leave enough contact info that others can get in touch with you. Your first connection may or may not be the “trustworthy truth-teller” you’re looking for, but the search will help you grow, and eventually you will find someone who can be that kind of a gift to you. Your writing will grow and a result and the church will be blessed by your efforts.

Rooting for you,


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One Response to “Plays Well With Others (Sort Of…)”

I agree that sharing is key in writing. In fact I’m not sure great songs can be written outside of community. In a sense it’s impossible to release something into a group of people and not have it come back to you equipped by them. Good or bad.

In my experience there are three elements to good writing:

1. The freedom to do what you need to do creatively to be inspired. The creative act is one of borrowing. It’s okay, eventually it becomes more you then the influences but it has to start somewhere. If that’s the case then, we need to be by discipline pushing ourselvs to lean into our creation theology and find the goodness of God’s creativity all over the place and then appropriate it to our context. So opera, films, relationships, weird music, easy listening tunes, poetry, etc. We need to push ourselves beyond our creative comfort.

2. A community – an honest group of people who want the best for each other. Letting go of the notion that we own what we create and allowing the grace of community shape it into something better.

3. Faithful practices. For me the best creativity comes from places of structure that don’t yield brilliance every time, but over time they do more than not.

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