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Finding Your Voice as a Songwriter

Jeremy Riddle

0:30:21 · Songwriting

Jeremy speaks about the importance of being a good student in your craft and stewarding moments of inspiration. He also touches on writing from authenticity and health while allowing space to be childlike in the creative process.

Your Heart Influences Your Craft

  • “I’ve never approached song writing logically, more methodically.”
  • Oftentimes we’ll try and steer creativity before we ever even begin the project itself. 
  • Creativity is not an isolated skill set. Like how writer's block is actually rooted from something else in your life that is hindering you from creating. (bitter, sexual sin, pornography.) 
  • Your creative process is actually deeply affected by your day to day life and your community. 
  • If your writing is connected to your heart, it’s instantly connected to everything that’s affecting your heart. 
  • “If you want to see something really beautiful come out of you, you have to guard your heart. It is the wellspring of life.”
  • How you criticize others with very much well determine your ability to create because you’re actually partnering with the opposite spirit. You’re partnering with a cowardly spirit, a spirit of criticism. 
  • “History belongs to the creative.” We have the chance to explore new ideas, explore old text and ideas and build something new with God.

You Reap What You Sow

  • “Whatever you wanna reap, you have to sow into yourself.” What you put into yourself actually comes out of you. 
  • If you’re wanting to create music, create a great playlist you listen to. Become a student of music. You’ll be surprised how much you listen to actually influences your sound. Allow yourself to be fascinated by music and sounds. 
  • Be willing to study the work of innovative artist. 
  • Be a reader or at least listen to audio books. Become familiar with literature. What you read carries a huge impact on how you write and articulate yourself. “What you sow into the realm of reading, you will bare fruit in your writing.”
  • Expand your language. Try reading different translations of the bible and you’ll notice it will expand your vocabulary and introduce different ways of saying something. 
  • Let your vocabulary and language provoke worship in itself. You don’t have to know the words of a song to worship God.
  • We need fresh language, and reading is a great way of expanding your vocabulary and giving yourself options.

Musical Growth

  • It’s important, as a musician, to spend time on your instrument. If you never practice, you could be hurting your songwriting growth and ability. 
  • Never underestimate the power of exploring, brainstorming and thinking around. This can look like brainstorming different ideas, melodies and lyrics. 
  • The time that you sow into your instrument will bare fruit.

How Does One Begin?

  • It begins by learning to pay attention. Oftentimes, we force ourselves into a space and try to force something out of us. But inspiration cannot be manipulated and commanded. 
  • True inspiration comes at any moment and any time, and if you don’t learn how to capture it in the moment it presents itself, you won’t know how to work with it the next time it comes around.

Discipline and inspiration are two different things.

  • Songs can come from anywhere: dreams, one liners, a movie, during sound check, while sitting at a stoplight. Train your mind to pay attention to moments of inspiration that the Lord gives you.
  • Capture the melodies running through your head on your voice memos or where ever works best for you, and then go back to it later to listen with fresh ears. You don’t have to develop it in that moment, but it’s good to capture so you can go back to it later. 
  • Songs can come to you in different ways. For Jeremy, some songs start with a melody and an idea, others start from a motivating concept and vision. 
  • Pay attention to the live worship sparks. Don’t be afraid to let your teammates know when you feel something significant on their spontaneous moment. 
  • Songwriting can sometimes be a frustrating journey, but seeing the fruit and reaching the finish line is so rewarding.
  • Songwriting can sometimes look like puzzle piecing melodies and ideas from different songs and moments together.

Give Yourself A Creative Childhood

  • “You have a sound and a song inside of you, you have a language of your own.” As a child, you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. You’re just exploring and playing, and it’s in that play and in that discovery that children come into knowing who they are. They discover their personality.” 
  • In seasons of exploration, we try to crame ourselves into a certain model, but that actually hinders our growth. 
  • “If you’ve never had a season where you get to just explore your creativity and sing whatever you want, I encourage you to give yourself a creative childhood.”
  • Sometimes we need to stop thinking about the congregation, and fix our eyes on God and think about our one on one relationship with Him. 
  • Trust that the authentic moments and conversations that you have with the Lord will move the hearts of others.
  • Production can sometimes be the fastest way to finalizing songs and finishing them up. There’s a deeper creative process that goes into creating your song when producing and having other listening ears.