As we approach the New Year, most of us seem intent on setting goals and making resolutions in hopes they will bring us greater fulfillment and success; so it seemed like a good time to talk about our goals as songwriters. What do you want to accomplish as a songwriter? What are your goals for the songs you have written? Have you ever really thought about your songwriting goals?

First, let’s look at you—the songwriter. What does it mean to be a real songwriter? Do you see yourself as one? I love what Robert Sterling says in his book The Craft of Christian Songwriting: “If you write songs on a regular basis—whether or not you make any money from the effort, whether or not you receive any recognition from others, and whether or not the songs are any good—in my estimation, you are a songwriter.”

So, what kind of songwriter are you, or more importantly, what kind of songwriter do you want to be? One way to know is to determine your audience. Are you writing for yourself, others, God? There is nothing wrong with writing songs just for yourself, for your own enrichment; after all, songwriting is a wonderful form of self-expression and the act itself is immensely beneficial. Writing songs to sing to God is a timeless manner of worship; one the saints and angels will joyfully employ for all eternity! However, if you are writing for a broader, human audience, especially if you are seeking fame or financial gain for your efforts, then you will need to take a serious approach to develop the craft of songwriting. It’s not that God deserves less than our best, it’s just that as a loving parent, He is delighted with our childish attempts in a way others will not appreciate.

This leads us to the second question: what are your goals for your songs? Have you ever really thought about setting goals for individual songs? Do you see yourself performing your song live? Do you want to record it yourself or would you like another artist to record it? Who do you hear singing your song? Will you market your song on iTunes or on your own website? Can you imagine hearing your song on the radio? Can you picture yourself winning a Dove Award for your song? Sound far-fetched, crazy, beyond your wildest dreams? Perhaps, but is it any more crazy than to keep writing songs and have no idea why you’re doing it? Remember, “If you shoot for the stars and miss, at least you’ll hit the moon.” However, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

So here’s your assignment: Determine your purpose as a songwriter. If you are writing solely for yourself, or as a form of communion with God, then keep it up. If, however, you are writing songs to minister to others or for others to sing to God in corporate praise, then perhaps it is time to set some goals to become the best songwriter you can be. Read books, attend workshops, collaborate with others, master the art of songwriting. Also, take inventory of your songs and decide which ones are worth promoting, then implement a plan to take each song as far as it can go. Let’s start this New Year by getting our songs on the right track.

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