The Songwriting Process Is Like a Greenhouse

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 15, 2010

Brian Doerksen says, “For me this song is a ‘life message’ song, even though I wrote it in a few days. I feel like it took years of leading worship and the heartbreaks and joys of life to get to the place of being ready to write it.” He says, “I wrote it as a call to worship incorporating key things I believe about worship.” He believes God wants us to come to Him just as we are, though “when true worship happens, we don’t stay the way we are. When we make that choice, we experience the pleasure of worship, the treasure of being with God.” That’s where those wonderful lines come from, “One day every tongue will confess You are God, One day every knee will bow/ Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now.” 

Paul likes to compare the writing process this way.  Creating a song is a lot like having a little plant growing in your greenhouse. It’s good to have lots of little plants at various stages growing there.  Not all of your ideas turn out to be worth pursuing, but some of them may grow into beautiful flowers. Don’t try to hurry it, or force it to grow, just visit it occasionally, worship a little with it, and see if anything more comes. Spirit-birthed songwriting is an organic process. Our songs grow out of the seed of God’s word that’s planted in us, nurtured by the warmth of our fellowship with Him. As our relationship grows, our understanding and our conversations (songs) with Him deepen. God reveals Himself to us in new ways and we want to sing those thoughts back to Him as we understand Him more. 

Don’t take a song out of the greenhouse too soon. (Remember the old TV ad slogan, “We will sell no wine before its time.”) Eventually you’ll need to apply your knowledge of the craft to it and finish up the song, but don’t be in too big a hurry to get into the edit mode, unless you’ve gotten yourself into a deadline situation. 

Try to avoid arbitrary deadlines. They just put unnecessary pressure on you and cause you to release songs before they’re really ready. There are lots of 70% songs out there. If the writers had just waited a little longer before considering them finished, perhaps they would have ended up with a 100% song. 

“Deadlines are a two-edged sword,” Paul says. “Sometimes they can light a fire under you and put a sense of urgency in your writing. But there are several songs that I feel could have been stronger if I had had a little more time to brood over them. Many of the songs made the recording deadline but I can’t help thinking in hindsight how much stronger they could have been if given more time.” 

See what grows by itself for a while. There will probably come a moment when you realize that that’s about all the free flowing stuff you’re going to “hear,” and that’s the time to begin to apply your craft. 


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