By Chris Davis (Worship Pastor, Mid-Cities Church)
Co-writing can feel daunting and intimidating if you've never tried before. What if people don't like your ideas? What if you don't like theirs? Though any time you share your creativity can feel vulnerable, there are ways to get the most out of a co-writing session. Here are a few tips on how you can be an amazing co-writer.
1. Be Prepared
Be on time. Bring something to write with, record with, and an instrument (if you play). Also bring a few song start ideas to share with the group. When you come to a writing session prepared, it shows the other writers that you’re serious about your craft, responsible, and trustworthy. Furthermore, when you’re willing to invite the group into a song you’ve already started, it shows that you are more interested in writing a great song than receiving all the credit. This encourages other writers to do the same.
2. Be Intentional
Start the session with a goal in mind. This is particularly important when writing in a group of three or more. If every writer has a different idea of what topic, style, feel, or tempo the group should be writing, the session will be a waste of everyone’s time. Take a few minutes to establish some parameters and an overall goal, then get creative together.
3. Be Kind
I know this may come as a shock, but creative people sometimes have a hard time sharing their ideas if they don’t feel safe. If you want to draw out the best from your co-writers, you have to create a safe environment. Ask your co-writers for their ideas first. Don’t be rude if their idea is not all that great, don’t be married to your ideas, and don’t take things personally if one of your ideas gets rejected. If everyone writing feels safe to share their ideas, you will end up with a better song, as well as a better co-writing experience.
4. Be Brave
I once heard Mia Fieldes say (in her deep Aussie accent), “Dare to suck!” Although there are probably more appropriate ways to say it, she’s right. If you keep your ideas to yourself out of fear of them being rejected, you’ll end up with a song that’s less than what it could have been. Be sure to speak up when you have an idea that will benefit the songwriting process—even if you’re unsure it will be accepted. If the group doesn’t use your idea, it may lead to something even greater. And therein lies the beauty of co-writing. One person’s moment of bravery to share an underdeveloped idea can lead to something incredible.
When the team shows up prepared, establishes a goal, and shares ideas freely with kindness and humility, not only does everyone have a great experience, but the songs they write can be truly amazing.
About the Author:
Chris Davis is the Lead Pastor of Worship Arts + Missions at Mid-Cities Church. He and his wife Sheila have three amazing boys. Chris provides leadership for the staff and casts vision for Mid-Cities Worship. He loves coffee, making music, worshipping Jesus, and hanging out with people.