Songwriting has always been a central part of Village Hymns, and we believe that songwriting is a form of worship. Psalm 96 lays it out perfectly; it begins by saying, “Sing to the LORD a new song…proclaim his salvation day after day.”
Every year Village Hymns invites local worship leaders and musicians to participate in a 28-Day Songwriting Challenge – challenging them to write for 10 minutes every day for the month of February. It only takes 10 minutes a day to get started, then it only takes 28 days of writing until songwriting is a daily habit. Years go by, and these daily writings form a musical journal that documents your journey with the Lord.
How to get started
There are really just two steps to getting started:
- Grab your instrument of choice and start to riff.
- Begin to sing words, phrases, anything.
If you’re at a loss for ideas, look at your environment and sing about that. Look out the window and sing about what you see. Listen to your soul and put words to what you feel. Don’t worry about rhymes; don’t worry about how you sound. Editing is a necessary part of the songwriting process, but it comes later. It is an enemy at this stage.
Let yourself feel totally crazy and silly, daring yourself to keep doing this for 10 minutes. You’ll be amazed at the little gold mines of melodies and words that you come up with when you let go of judgment.
Songwriting as a habit
Habits don’t always seem significant in the moment, but when they stack up over time, they’re powerful. Writing for 10 minutes won’t get you a symphony; it may not even get you one complete song. But what it will do day after day is give you hundreds and thousands of songs and creative works. You’ll find that over time your lyrics and melodies become much stronger and ideas flow more rapidly.
People often think that creative inspiration comes mysteriously in intense spurts, and we often wait around for that feeling in order to write. However, the best way to ensure that these bursts of inspiration come more frequently is to rig the system. You need to inject creative time into your daily routine.
When you sit down to song write every day, chances are you’ll have more musical and lyrical ideas on paper than you would if you had waited around for creative feelings. This daily rhythm unlocks your creativity and gives you a chance to use your gift more than you may have otherwise. Not only is it healthy for the soul to write every day, but it’s also wonderful to establish a creative habit, a baseline of joy to return to each day.
Songwriting as a lifelong journey
The beautiful thing about songwriting is that there is no expiration date. There’s no reason why songs written at 80 years old won’t be better, richer, with fuller depth and beautiful melodies. Creating a 50-year vision for you and your creativity will put everything into perspective.
What would your life look like if you simply wrote for 10 minutes a day for the next 50 years? How many journals full of lyrics and melodies would you store up to tell the story of your life and legacy? Cultivating a songwriting habit now will be a gateway to a rich, creative life for many years to come. What if you released the pressure, saying to yourself: “I have 50 years to get this right?”
Commit now to keeping the creative flame alive through all seasons of your life. Remove creative blocks by cultivating a songwriting habit of 10 minutes a day, living into your identity as a creative, and connecting deeply with yourself and God. If you write from now until you’re 80, you will not only improve your skill tremendously and write some incredible songs, but you will also have the quiet joy of knowing that you’ve been a songwriter for decades and that your life has always been full of music.
If you’re a worship leader interested in getting involved with Village Hymns, please email [email protected] or visit our website at villagehymns.com. Julie Anne Vargas is the executive director of Village Hymns. Read other articles by Julie Anne Vargus at goodnewsfl.org/author/julie-anne-vargas/