It should go without saying that learning to finish a song is as important as starting one, but this is exactly where a lot of songwriters get stuck.
You probably know what I mean…
You get an idea, maybe a phrase that could be a great hook, or a melody that you think, “No one’s heard this before and I totally know where it could go…”
Or something happens and you think, “There needs to be a song about this” because you saw a need in the world or you’ve just come through something hard and you KNOW that God helped you through somehow and you want to share it in your native tongue of SONG.
So, you sit down to write(if you remembered to put the original hook and idea in your phone) but nothing happens… *crickets crickets…
Or, maybe you started the song and are stuck somewhere moving it into the chorus or you’re stuck in the “2nd verse blues” stage and just can’t seem to move it forward.
Maybe you’re wandering around aimlessly in the FORM or the MELODY or the LYRICS somewhere and the song’s getting FUZZIER instead of CLEARER and it’s really frustrating!
Am I right about this? Does this happen to you?
SO – if this has happened to you more than once or it seems to be the norm for your writing, I want you to know three things…
It’s not because you’re NOT talented
it’s not because God just hasn’t GIVEN you the rest of the song to torture you
It’s not because you’re not smart enough to finish songs
The only reason you’re not finishing your songs is because you have a WRONG PERSPECTIVE on them (and maybe about songwriting in general).
Here’s what I mean…
Having a wrong perspective only means we’re looking at the RIGHT THING from the WRONG ANGLE. It usually only takes a few minor perspective adjustments to get the right kind of focus and start seeing the results we want.
When a songwriter isn’t finishing songs consistently, it usually means there are self-esteem issues involved, an incorrect perspective on what GOD thinks about us and our songs, and a certain passivity that shifts blame and keeps us incapacitated.
But GOD is all about EMPOWERING YOU to write, not keeping you disempowered. He longs for you to feel the JOY of writing great songs and fulfilling YOUR CALL to write. He’s all OVER that stuff!God is all about empowering you to write great songs. #writebettersongsnow Click To Tweet
Even if you treat your songwriting as a hobby, there’s a certain amount of mastery required for it to bring you satisfaction. Sometimes songwriters don’t think they “deserve” to feel satisfied with their work or art, but God created us to do these things and to find His pleasure in them. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with being satisfied, blessed, and actually quite happy with the songs we write.
But unfinished songs block satisfaction, enjoyment, and the blessings they could be to us and to the world.
You see, unfinished songs are like unfinished emotional business.
When our minds don’t finish something for some reason, it causes a cognitive dissonance and a sense of dissatisfaction that accumulates over time until there’s a feeling of general dissatisfaction that can spill over into other things.Unfinished songs are like unfinished emotional business. #writebettersongsnow Click To Tweet
Our minds seek CLOSURE, completion, wholeness, and integrity.
When our songs go unfinished, it’s like a part of OURSELVES is still hanging in the balance out there somewhere and we can even become angry or depressed or otherwise dysfunctional and not even know why.
This is because WE are truly reflected in our songs, our song habits, our creativity, and the very way we approach the craft and calling to create.
If we’re undisciplined and unteachable, we’ll always struggle with this cognitive dissonance because we simply aren’t living INTO or UP to the desire and call we feel to do this.
Everything in life is connected – our spiritual lives are connected inextricably from our souls and bodies – – our inner life is reflected in our outer lives.
When we separate those out and blame our lack of songwriting success on ANYTHING but ourselves, we’re blame-shifting and avoiding where the real work needs to be done.
It’s kind of like a marriage that is struggling. If one or both partners are unwilling to face the INNER REALITIES about how they think about marriage (even secretly), the marriage cannot thrive because one or both are holding back.
Songs can begin to languish if left to themselves, like babies unloved…
We get a kind of creativity “fatigue…”
We certainly lose our creative momentum…
If you’re unable to FINISH songs, there are a few key questions to ask yourself:
What am I AFRAID of to finish this song?
Is there some inner resistance such as the fear of failure keeping me from COMMITTING to it as it turns out, i.e. I can always tell people I’m “writing” a song and keep putting off finishing it for fear of rejection?
In other words, is there an emotional/psychological REWARD for NOT finishing songs?
Do I really BELIEVE in this song and its message?
Am I willing to let the song teach me what I don’t know about songwriting?
What is it I DON’T KNOW that I need to know in order to finish this song?
Have I started in the right place? Are verses and ideas out of order or am I trying to put too many ideas into one song?
Am I too close to it and do I need to step away for a SHORT period of time?If left to themselves, songs can begin to languish. #writebettersongsnow Click To Tweet
Sometimes on a technical level, the inability to finish a song means:
Started with a weak hook
Hook doesn’t hold up throughout the song
Chased the wrong thought-thread to a dead end
Don’t really understand song FORM and how songs are assembled
Trying to put too many ideas in one song
Don’t study and understand great LYRICS and how to write them
Don’t know what makes for a great HOOK and how to find one
And so many more things we don’t have time to go into…
What Not Finishing Your Songs is REALLY Saying to You
There’s a certain amount of song CRAFT that we need to master finishing consistently and to finish well.
The inability to finish is telling us that we need to add to our knowledge base, not only our inspiration.
People often confuse lack of knowledge with lack of inspiration, but they’re actually very different. Inspiration comes from knowing that we KNOW how to do something and we rise in the POWER of that knowledge and strength to DO it.
Songs are often much easier to start than finish. It’s a lot more fun to get an idea than work it through and some people are natural idea/innovators/project starters and NOT managers, but…
The HUMBLE attitude of someone who really wants to honor God in any endeavor is to admit we can’t do it all on our own – we need help – we need to learn – we need to grow in the CRAFT of whatever it is we’re trying to do, whether its surgery, or painting, or running, or teaching…
Painters spend DECADES painting.
Athletes spend years and even decades practicing and training.
Doctors spend decades learning how to heal.
Why do we think songs just DROP out of the air on us perfectly and that the world should bow at our feet? To me, that’s the height of arrogance, even if God DOES give the inspiration for them, which I believe He does….Humility is the willingness to admit we don't know everything there is to know about writing songs. #writebettersongsnow Click To Tweet
DECIDE TO FINISH ALL UNFINISHED SONGS ONE AT A TIME (like the unfinished projects in your house)
Remember that DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT
Constantly ADD to your toolkit – never stop learning and growing!
HERE ARE TWO THINGS I WANT YOU TO DO TO INVEST IN YOURSELF AND YOUR CALLING TO WRITE GREAT SONGS:
FIRST – if you want to GROW, if you want to LEARN, if you want to humble yourself and get HELP from a loving community of creative songwriters, participate in our FREE Successful Christian Songwriting Facebook group you can access here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147256382368545/
The SECOND thing – IF you’re ready to take this thing to the next level, our coaching is here for you. I only work personally with SERIOUS SONGWRITERS ready to GO for it and invest in themselves, do the work, and GET THE RESULTS. If that’s you, schedule a FREE strategy session with me, but ONLY if you’re ready for bootcamp, ready for the kind of professional rigor it takes to be a real songwriter. Use this link to schedule a call and we’ll see if we can work together to get YOUR breakthroughs: https://secure.scheduleonce.com/JohnChisum