Journaling: A Songwriter’s Creative Deposits

This is an example of how patched together one month's worth of my journaling can look! 

This is an example of how patched together one month's worth of my journaling can look! 

My very first writing happened as a preschooler. I would draw curvy lines and pretend that I was writing. I was always compelled to draw stick-pictures of what I wanted to remember. Over the decades I have refined my journaling skills, and often still doodle on my pages as I am thinking. My journals have outgrown the old cedar chest, and now have a closet of their own. Guess you could say I am a “Closet Journalist”!

As a songwriter I have come to respect each of those pages as a valuable, creative deposit in every song. My “Hook Books” are filled from unexpected lines gleamed by rereading my journals. For example, the chorus of my next song was literally taken from a journal page when I was eight-years-old. The beauty of journaling is that you will always have a bank of ideas that are written by a writer you know well!

Nashville renowned songwriter, Cindy Wilt Colville, recently posted a very interesting blog about how journaling has contributed to her twenty-five year career. She graciously granted permission for me to share her ideas on my blog. Enjoy and learn!

- Carolana 


Writing Your Life

(Reprinted with permission from

A valuable tool for capturing your life experience is journaling. This week I had a conversation with a songwriter who is in her first year of college. She is taking eighteen credit hours, so her plate is full. She told me she is committed to journaling every day. She is also engaging another tool to capture her life experiences, that is, to document any memorable events by writing them down on small pieces of paper and collecting them in a jar.

One key part of your songwriting life is your own life experience. It is the struggles, challenges and joys, successes and (to quote Bob Halligan, Jr.) the things that bug you that will inspire your songs and give them uniqueness. I believe that the desire to create songs is a gift that comes from God. It is your choice and opportunity to respond to this gift by doing the work it takes to write those songs.

I challenge you to journal: fifteen minutes every day for the next month. Set a timer and write whatever comes into your mind including scriptures, conversations, feelings, and any other details about your day. Do not edit anything you write. You will not have to show this to anyone. At the end of the month go back through your entries and highlight any insights and themes that have potential to be sources for song ideas. I would be very interested to hear if this discipline helps you to listen to your life.

I encourage you to write songs true to your own experience. Your most authentic creative expression will come from this place and have the greatest impact on those who hear your songs.