Three things that I think are extremely important for a writer, any writer—whether you write songs, blurbs, brochures or novels.
#1) DON’T PIGEON HOLE YOURSELF: Be a kingdom builder. Maybe that means you write some days, but maybe that means you do something you’re not as excited about doing the next; whatever it takes. Contrary to many great writers out there, I never sit down and say, ‘It’s time to write.’ The best songs I’ve ever written—the ones that other people are actually moved by—were written in 5 to 10 minutes, because I was focused on serving God, sharing the love of Jesus with someone, seeing my life, their life, the world through His eyes. That inspires me. And because I love music and melodies, my brain begins to channel that creativity into a melody or lyric. Maybe it’s that, or just maybe God is blessing me with the opportunity to communicate what I’m seeing in a way that words alone can’t do justice (first to myself then to others). I will never allow myself to be pressured to write a song. Writing is too fun for me, and the day it becomes a job, a science, an equation, is the day I will have to be broken into pieces so I can fall in love with it all over again.
#2) CREATIVITY IS A MUSCLE: Like any muscle, to keep it strong, you have to exercise it. Part of the reason my brain probably translates these inspiring moments (that come not by living for my thing-dom or trying to write the next inspirational hit song, but by living for his kingdom and being available to work at whatever it takes to reach people and build the house) is because I am constantly immersing myself in things that strengthen my creativity.
It’s like this…I exercise, because one day I’m going to need the strength to lift something. Well, one day, God’s going to give you a dream, an idea. And if you’re not ready, you won’t know what to do with it and it fades away. Everyone is different; some people are militant in the exercising of their creative muscle. I just consistently dabble in diverse things that stimulate creativity: noodle on an instrument (any instrument I can find lying around), read books (I just read “Peter Pan”), listen to music and appreciate it, appreciate things you normally overlook like the shape of a tree, or the color of a field, or the cracks in a sidewalk. I heard one creative leader say, “It is when we allow ourselves to be easily wowed that our capacity grows for God-ideas.’”
I don’t want to sit down and say, “Ok, I have to put in my creative strengthening time,” but I will tell you it is important to push away regularly, even if for only 5 minutes, and be creative.
#3) HAVE A TEAM: When I tell you to have a team, I mean one that you share your ideas with. And one you can take criticism from. Ed & Lisa model this for us…everything can be constructively critiqued. This makes all of us stronger artists, communicators and leaders. You’ve got to swallow your pride and take it sometimes, but I’ve learned that if a group of the right “THEY” have a suggestion for your song, there is usually some wisdom in it. Make sure it’s the right “THEY”. You don’t want Kool-Aid drinkers being the only audience you show your ideas too; they’ll love everything and not stretch or challenge you. But you also don’t want people who are not encouraging. You have to really seek out the right “THEY” to share your stuff with, and when you find them, if you hold onto all your ideas with an open hand and open mind, you will grow tremendously as an artist and leader. And so will your creativity.