Songwriter’s Block and Ordinary Praise

This is the third post in a series about songwriting. You can read the first two posts here and here.


Twice a year our church holds an Open Mic event. It’s a time for us to gather as friends and share our creative gifts. Usually, I’ll try to write a song or two to share how God has been at work in my life.

But there’s been one small problem these past few years: I’ve had songwriter’s block. These days, I rarely write anything that I think is any good. I try but the results too often feel rehashed and uninspired. When I sit down to write, nothing comes to mind and it feels as if I’ve forgotten how to create music.

wrietersblock

Why Can’t I Write Songs?

People sometimes ask me how I write songs. Do I write the lyrics first and then set them to music or vice versa? Usually, for me, it’s neither. Lyrics and music happen simultaneously. A moment of inspiration strikes and from there the song just sort of writes itself.

That’s because, for me, songs overflow from strong feelings. Many of the songs I’ve written have come from a place of deep discouragement and desperation. There is so much pent-up, raw emotion–such a need to express myself to God and be heard by him–that it bursts out as words and music.

And perhaps that explains why it’s difficult for me to write songs these days. Life feels more settled now. The valleys aren’t as low. The dry seasons don’t seem as pressing. That isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. Many of my same doubts, insecurities, and sins from the past persist. But none of these struggles feel very urgent or interesting. And if it’s something I’ve explored creatively before, why write a new song about it? Why would anyone want to hear it?

Praise in the Ordinary

Perhaps my inability to write songs in the ordinary reflects my deeper tendency to only cry out to God in times of crisis and for my heart to only well up with praise after a dramatic deliverance.

If that’s true, then it’s worthwhile for me to fight through writer’s block and continue to write new music. After all, I still have many challenges I can lift up to the Lord. And God is still very much at work in me, guiding my way and transforming me into the image of his Son.

There are new songs for all of us to sing but we must be more intentional in seeking them out.  Songs flow easily out of desperation and deliverance. But in the ordinary, we need to sit down and think. We need to ponder and reflect on how God has been good to us. We need to learn, as it were, how to write the lyrics first and then the melody, and vice versa. That might not be as exciting as waiting for the magic moment of inspiration, but the end result are just as rewarding.

This has been my experience with blogging consistently. As with songwriting, I used to only write when inspiration struck; when I had an idea or experience so urgent, that I was bursting to get it out. Those posts still come but writing monthly has meant some posts aren’t the most exciting. Writing consistently has forced me to reflect and ponder God’s Word even when life seems boring. It has forced me to push through some serious writer’s block, to keep going when I’ve felt like trashing my article and taking the month off. Writing consistently has been a challenge, but also an immense blessing.

How about you? You may not be a songwriter or a writer, but I think the basic idea still applies. Do you find yourself praising God when life is ordinary? Does your praise overflows outwards – whether that be in a meet-up, a creative outlet, a jam session, corporate worship, or in your private time with the Lord?

What a testimony it would be for us to model contentment in God to a restless and distracted world, which despises the ordinary. Whether we are songwriters or not, let us be people who are constantly finding new reasons to praise the Lord.

A New Song

Thankfully, I was able to scrape together a song for open mic night. The song is basically about what I covered in this post: how both my songwriting and praise have seemed to fade in the ordinary, and yet God is patiently at work in my life leading me to glory. Hope you enjoy! Lyrics are below:

Lyrics:

Verse 1:
The melodies used to come easy in the silence
when I needed you to meet me in the dark
I would tell you of the sorrow in my heart
Now, from the wreckage of the hurricane,
I finally found the semblance of a home
Hear the sounds in the streets as I go
But it seems the still voice fades on the paved road
Along with the lines and the lyrics that you gave Lord

Verse 2:
Turns out that you need a lot of courage just to wake up in the cold
And strength when the days pass slow
But the words don’t flow like they used to
When I would sit and sing the rhythm and blues
And it seems the still voice fades on the paved road
Along with the lines and the lyrics that you gave Lord

Chorus:
I need a new song in my soul Lord
I need a new song in my soul Lord
I pray that I’ll praise you forever

Bridge:
In the congregation
sing a new song how you walked us through
We bow low in the dirt and wait cause seeds grow slow
But the strength of the Spirit makes all things new
And every day’s one day closer
Til we pass from faith to face to face
I’m four years from the bottom
And I still praying that I’ll reach your hill
Guide the way


Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.

(Psalm 33:3-4)

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