Songwriting: Humbled by Gratitude?


Eight years ago I had to hang-up my ballroom dancing shoes due to my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Yet, I was so excited to be invited to a local ballroom dancing class just for “beginners—again”. In spite of my remaining physical weakness, from MS fatigue, I remain determined to reclaim my life! The idea of reclaiming my life seems like such a noble goal. But there are those times when I feel more like an awkward newborn calf trying to take its first steps — and ballroom dancing would be no exception!

As I tried to mimic the steps of the patient dance teacher, I felt as though I had grown several extra pairs of left feet! With each dance-step, I started to feel more like an insect than a human being. When the lady next to me commented that she felt like she was dancing with two left feet, I exclaimed, “Be thankful for just two, I am sure I have at least six!”

My pride was melting into tears, when God reminded me of the days I spent in a wheelchair just a year before. He reminded of the times I sat and begged for a chance to walk again. My heart sank from my shame; I was humbled by gratitude. Not only had God answered my cries to walk again, He was now allowing me to dance not with precision, but with gratitude!


Often when I face the empty page of a new song, I feel again like that night on the dance floor. Each new hook shows promise, but a new song needs me to put more on the page than just a hook; I need to write a full lyric. At that moment of writer’s fear of the blank page (AKA writer’s block), my pride must again be melted. When I remember that my talents are God’s performing through me and not my own talents alone, I am humbled by gratitude for His working through me. He knows how each song will be used and only He can form my clumsy words into a song that can bless another’s life.  When someone writes me with a story of how my lyrics have touched their lives, I am again humbled by gratitude! I know then that my songs are not mine. They belong to Him. For He is the Holy Author of every Song!

Have you had times that gratitude transformed your work as songwriters? Tell me about times when you were “Humbled By Gratitude.” Please write me and share your stories! Tell me about it.

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Songwriting Made Simple: Ask as a Child

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During the last few weeks, my co-writer and I have been working on a children’s song. We have re-written the same chorus lyrics at least a half dozen times! We had hoped to be finished by now, but we were blocked.

Then, I went to my childhood journals and found the simple phrases needed to complete the chorus. Since most of my childhood (my school years) was spent in an abusive foster home, I would stay quiet by writing to Jesus in my journals. Here are examples of what I wrote to Jesus:

  • Help my heart fly like a butterfly.
  • Please bring Joy To my World everyday!
  • Bring Peace on Earth…my home is on the earth…so bring peace to my home.
  • I like being one of the children in of the world.
  • You love me; help me love others.
  • You make all my days special.
  • Thank you for making each day just for me.
  • You are my Momma kisses and Daddy smiles.
  • I love to play with friends.  Please find me some.
  • Please know my name.
  • Let me touch your smile.
  • I am sad.  Help me smile.
  • Help me to be good not bad.
  • Help my home be happy.
  • Let me hold your hand.
  • Make me safe.  I always feel lost.
  • Help me sleep.  I hate the dark.
  • Help me know some songs.

Those prayers were spoken to Jesus when I was a child, and I still say them now—‘cause I’m still His child!

What about you?  Where to you go to find simple phrases for your lyrics?  What simple, childhood prayers do you still say now?

Saving the Singer’s Inside Stuff


Two weeks ago I checked into Nashville Southern Hills Medical Center for the removal of approximately a dozen tumors in my large intestines. Each tumor was about the size of a golf-ball in diameter. My surgeon had many concerns about the damage the swelling from my diseased intestines could have caused to my diaphragm, etc. Knowing that I am a singer/songwriting, he assured me that everything possible would be done to save my “singer’s inside stuff.”
Unfortunately, when he opened my abdominal wall, he also discovered that my Gall Bladder also had tumors in it, and was nearly gangrenous! It had already started to seep toxic fluids into the already incurable large intestines, as well as the abdominal wall! It took nearly a six-hour operation to remove all the toxics and diseased tissue from my abdomen.  My abdominal region was damaged far worse than we had originally thought it to be.
But here’s God’s beauty in all this damage! Once all the disease tissue was removed and the diaphragm (the main singer’s inside stuff) could be seen more clearly, my doctor said it was smooth and pink: “Like a baby’s behind!! It was as if someone had gone inside and wrapped my “singer’s inside stuff” in a protective layer before any of the intestines became disease.” I know that someone had done just that—My God!

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.