This week I have been spending a lot of time finishing songs to be submitted for my next album. Normally, I like to have at least double the amount of songs I will end up using – and choose the best of the lot. The past few days i have spent more time RE WRITING than I did writing the songs in the first place.
What is re-writing? Well, for those of you who don’t write songs, writing a song is generally inspirational (for the most part). You may get an idea for a song melody, or a title, or a great lyric, and can build something from there. When the song is ‘finished’ – and the inspirational moment gone, it’s a great feeling to know you have created something from scratch.
Normally I will leave a song for a few days, and then come back and listen to it with fresh ears. Most of the time I will hear a lyric that needs to change – maybe it’s too cliche, or doesn’t say what I really meant to say. Or, in the case of a worship song for congregational use, maybe it’s not theologically sound and needs a bit of tweaking to project the right ideas. Then starts the process of changing, re writing melodies and lines, and alot of ‘cutting out’ – the most painful part! Trying to say more, with less words is a skill that I dream of mastering one day and is often the greatest contention for a songwriter.
Re writing is a bit like life really. How many of us review our decisions, our jobs, our ministries on a regular basis? Or do you keep doing what you have always done because that’s the way you have always done it? Or maybe your’e afraid to touch on elements of your life you are not happy about, because it’s just like stirring up muddy waters and you are afraid it will just be a lot messier than if you had just left things alone.
Re writing is not about inspiration. It’s a cold hard look at the song of your life. Is it singing the way it should? Does it sound ok for the most part, but could do with of a bit of change here and there?
The great encouragement about re writing is that, for you to begin the process it has to be a good song to start with. If it wasn’t you would just scrap it and start again. Many of us live GOOD lives. Maybe you haven’t done anything in your life that you would say ‘was a big mistake – I really need to start over”. It’s actually harder to re write than it is to start again. But it’s not enough for us to live an ok life. It’s time to look at our song and see if there is anything that needs to change – big or small. Your life will then become a life of intentionality. Just like a well written finished song, we will achieve our purpose – what we were truly born for.