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Songwriting
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Intentional Songwriting & Stewardship

Hannah McClure and Paul McClure

0:30:32 · Songwriting

Paul and Hannah McClure share their journey of learning to be intentional songwriters, and give tips on working songwriting into a schedule, co writing, and stewarding what God has given us.

Perfectionism

  • “The biggest part of songwriting is stewarding. We are catching those ideas and stewarding them well, and the gift that’s on our lives.”(Paul)
  • Paul and Hannah used to write songs when they felt inspired, and wrote very unintentionally. “If you want to be a songwriter you’ve got to write.” (Hannah) 
  • A big breakthrough for Paul was realizing how much perfectionism and fear had kept him from writing songs, even though he had songs on Bethel Albums. (Paul)
  • It doesn’t matter what setting you’re in, fear is going to try and hold you back from writing songs. (Paul)
  • “A small step of progression is 1,000 times better than a delayed step of perfection. Perfectionism procrastination and paralyzes progress.” - Rick warren 
  • Perfectionism will kill creativity and songwriting. (Paul)

Scheduling Songwriting

  • If you really want to be a songwriter, how much time do you spend actually writing your songs? (Paul)
  • Just pray about your season. Hannah felt a shift in her season to focus on songwriting. She felt like it was worth the investment to get a babysitter a few times a week. “It may seem like something that’s not very fruitful in the beginning, but it really pays off in the end because you start to see progression in your songwriting.” (Hannah)
  • Paul will just put in his calendar a few times a week a songwriting session. There’s always something else you can spend your time on. There’s an old way of thinking that spending time on songwriting isn’t important. Paul didn’t like to songwriting until he started writing on a weekly basis. The more they write the more they realize they love to songwrite. (Paul)
  • They don’t experience writer’s block, because songwriting is such a normal part of our life that they don’t actually see it as that. 
  • “Writer’s block gets taken care of when we treat songwriting as a normal part of our life and not something we do sometimes.” (Paul)
  • Hannah remembers when she first wrote songs she felt very vulnerable. She forgot about it because of how much they write. If you feel scared just keep pressing through, because it will become less scary the more you write. (Hannah) 

Co-Writing

  • Paul rarely writes by himself, because it works so well. Paul and Hannah don’t normally write with more than one person. Paul suggests to write with at most three people. Writing with a big group of people never works out. (Paul)
  • Scheduling co writing has been the biggest breakthrough for Paul, because someone is always going to have something. You rarely experience writer’s block with 3 other people in the room. (Paul)
  • Dare to suck. Throw your ideas out there and be willing to try things that may not work. Ideas spark other ideas. (Hannah)
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Paul and Hannah didn’t know that melodies were their strengths. Start figuring out if you’re good at lyrics, melody, or chord arrangements. They try to write with people who are good at lyrics. (Hannah)
  • Find people that compliment you when you co write. (Paul)
  • Paul and Hannah love to use Google Docs to share with people, because they like to see everyone’s ideas. Even if it’s not what you land on for the song, it’s inspiring to see the other ideas. (Hannah)
  • Paul used to hate writing verses. Faithful to the end was their first time trying it to write a verse, and they just started writing all their ideas out. They had a three page document of verse ideas. It can even just be a concept, it doesn’t have to be an actual song line. When you have more content to choose from its allows you to be picky. (Paul)
  • “Songwriting is putting a puzzle together rather than starting from nothing.” It’s much easier when you have ten lines to come up with two lines. (Paul)
  • Record all your ideas, you’re not going to remember it. (Hannah) 
  • Bethel Music practices rewriting songs often. Be willing to look at it and be open handed. (Paul)
  • There are instances where the Lord speaks to you and you write it all in one sitting, but that is very few and far between. The first draft is not always what makes it onto albums. (Hannah)
  • Paul and Hannah lead their songs first at church before they try and record, so they can know what it feels like. (Paul)
  • Play your songs for people and ask them how that hit them. Don’t keep it in the small area of people who write songs. Write with people who don’t write music. Ask your pastor how it hits him. If you can’t find people in your area, skype write. (Paul)
  • Write for your church. Bethel is not the only model. Write for your congregation. “Beautiful worship songs are birthed from a place of love for our people.” (Hannah)
  • You have to stick with it even when it’s not working, try different things. (Paul)