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Song and Sermon Writing: Wisdom from Jacob Dylan

April 21, 2008

In the May issue of Interview, Jacob Dylan had this to say about song-writing:

I mean, I’ve always had this disciplined approach to it. You have to have a work ethic and you have to be educated in what you’re doing. You have to take it seriously. It doesn’t mean that everything you do has to be serious. But you’ve got to have the tools. There are certainly a lot of people—and I won’t name names—who are getting by simply on expression. And I guess that’s valuable in some sense. But songs are not better just because they’re emotionally honest. To write a song well, you have to put some work into it and grind it out.

Great advice for both song and sermon writers. Too often we bank on emotion to get us by in our songs an sermons. Dylan pulls us back center by emphasizing education, tools, thoughtfulness in our communication, in our art. There are a lot of songs and books being written these days that glorify being “emotionally honest,” but if these pieces aren’t complemented by thoughtful, educated reflection and hard work then they may not even be worth putting out there. Song and sermon writing are a craft. Heed Dylan and treat them as such. Get your tools and work them.

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