Through the years, I’ve had several reach out and ask how to write a song or how I write a song. So, I thought I would just do a blog post so I could refer to that.
First, I want to say that I am by no means a professional writer, neither do I consider myself a good writer, and furthermore, I’m honestly amazed that people would want to know how I come up with a song.
With that out of the way, I’d like to share a few links from Kyla Rowland’s website on songwriting. You may find after reading what she says, that you no longer care what I have to say (I felt the same way, lol).
Here is some wonderful information on songwriting mechanics and do’s/dont’s from one of the best: http://www.kylarowland.com/writing-info/ and http://www.kylarowland.com/writing-info/songwriting-mechanics/
I dabbled in writing a few songs before 2015, my first being in 2011 because I was asked to sing at a ladies’ meeting and couldn’t find a song to fit the theme. A few followed after that, but I still never pursued songwriting. If you’ve followed my blog for anytime now, you’ve probably heard about my chronic dizziness that catapulted me into more consistent songwriting so I won’t elaborate. But truly that’s where songwriting began for me. It wasn’t to show off, it wasn’t to put myself out there; it was to survive. And the ironic part was, I was so dizzy, I couldn’t even sing my songs in church or revival meetings. They stayed in my heart and went no further than my piano for a long time. God eventually started working in my heart to share them with people and the rest, I guess, is history.
So, how do I write a song?
In the beginning, it was because I was desperately searching the scriptures and seeking the Lord for answers about my health condition. And the songs poured from verses He would lead me to, prayers that I would pray or answers He would give. Sometimes from a sermon or word of encouragement from someone. I’ve found that while, yes, you can sit down and just write a song, it touches others more if it touches you first.
If you read Kyla Rowlands tips, I almost follow none of them (WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?? 😂). While I don’t necessarily suggest throwing songwriting mechanics out the window, writing what the Lord gives you or what’s on your heart is more important to me than rigidly following a set of rules.
I think songs must have structure, be to the point, have some sort of rhyme that’s easy to the ears, and have a pleasant melody. But more importantly than that (in my humble opinion) is – does this song point to the Lord? Does it bring Him glory? Does it encourage or bring about a sense of worship to Him?
There have been times that I asked the Lord to give me an upbeat song. But I still wanted it to have substance. He gave me “Let Jesus Take It” and “He’s Good Like That” to name a few. There have been other times that I asked Him if He would give me a song wholly centered on Him and not Him through my trials and “This Man” was written in less than 15 minutes. “Cast Your Care On Me” is the song that was written from the moment I felt His presence as strongly as I ever have. It literally felt like He was beside me, weeping with me and holding me in His arms. It was written at the darkest and lowest place I’ve ever been. “The Half Hasn’t Been Told” is my salvation testimony song. “What God Has Done” is my favorite family song to sing. Sometimes, songs take less than 30 minutes and a melody and words flow easily. Other times, I’ve had to walk off and leave a song on the back burner for months. Sometimes, my thoughts just need to be written down and we never sing the song I’ve written. Other times, I’ve written a song that we don’t sing until several years later. People always ask, “How many songs have you written?” It’s not a number I keep up with, but I have tried to go through my book and count. It changes often, but at last count it was between 125-130. We sing no where near all of them. I don’t like to keep a count, I’m not competing with anyone, and I don’t like to be compared to anyone or be called ‘the next so and so’.
Side note on my song that won that Singing News Songwriter’s Search: I believe with all my heart God allowed me to win that to open my eyes to the “publicity” of songs/professional artists. This is just me and my opinion, but I don’t feel the Lord leading me to send my songs to big groups. A lot is for show, that’s all I’ll say. (And, yes I realize there are people who do it for the right reason and groups need songwriters.) I’d just rather the Lord take my songs where He wants them and if they go nowhere, that’s ok. I understand that songwriters want people to sing their songs, and I’m thankful for each person/group that does but I’m not interested in selling my songs or making “the big bucks” from them.
Also, fun fact which can be rather frustrating, is that if I get an idea for a song I will try to go do a search to see if there is another song with the same title. If there is, I usually scrap it. I don’t ever want to be accused of trying to copy someone else’s work. But there are times when a song is so strongly on my heart, that there are similar ones with the same thought. In the end, grace is amazing and how many songs have been written about that? God has given us all different styles but we all go through the same trials. (HA. I didn’t realize that rhymed until I typed it and then I thought about deleting it because it was corny. But I’m leaving it. Maybe it will become my work’s motto.) So there’s bound to be many songs about the same topic. I remember when I wrote, “Let Jesus Take It”, Brian Free and Assurance came out with a new project just about a week later and there was a song on there called “He Can Take It”. I about died, but……..who really cares? I’m laughing now at how much it bothered me then. They are BRIAN FREE AND ASSURANCE and I’m Faith York. I’m sure no one will EVER put the two together and if they think I copied something, oh well.
One time when I was a teenager, I got asked to sing by myself at teen camp. (If a certain someone is reading this, you’ll know who it was.) The director got my mic ready for me and said, “If you’ll do it for Jesus, you’ll feel a lot better about it.” That has stayed with me my whole life. Do I always feel good after I sing for Jesus? BIG NOPE. Sometimes, it feels like a flop. But I’d rather feel like a flop doing it for Him, than feel amazing doing it for myself. That’s the best advice I can give you. Do it for Him.
So in summary:
- Write about what you know, what’s touched your heart or helped you in your journey. (A verse, a sermon, a trial)
- Make sure if you tell your story/journey in a song, it ALWAYS points back to Jesus. Always.
- Don’t worry about what others are doing or saying about you. Don’t let their reaction or actions to how He might be using you deter you from serving Him. He gave you YOUR talents and them THEIR’S, and He can use both even if they are the same.
- Ask the Lord to keep you humble. This will hurt, but it’s best.
- Don’t push your songs to people unless you specifically feel the Spirit’s leading you to do this. God is a much better promoter than anyone could be. He knows who needs what you’ve written. Trust Him and His timing. And if it’s for no one but you, thank Him for that too.
- Always pray for the Lord to help you write what He wants. The melody, the words, every part of the song – yield it to Him.
- GIVE HIM THE GLORY and allow Him to get it however He wants.
One last thing. I have many people ask me to help them write a song, co-write with them, or put a melody to words, etc. This is SUCH an honor. If the Lord allows me to, I am certainly willing but please keep in mind that it might not happen. Sometimes no matter how much I want a song to come, it doesn’t. Just because God lets me write a song from one sermon and not another, doesn’t mean it was the only one that helped me. Just because I help one person and not another, doesn’t mean I don’t want to help both. 🙂 Hopefully that makes sense and you understand.
Well, thanks for reading my ramblings, but maybe something helped you even if it was only Kyla Rowland’s links.