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My Advice to Struggling Artists: Seek First God’s Kingdom

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The key to creativity is worship and prayer.

A few years ago, I walked into Cason Cooley’s studio in East Nashville—a warm room strung with lights and jammed full of guitars and pianos and books—and sat down with my friends to start a new project. I looked around, thinking about all the other times I had done this very thing, marveling at how little I still knew about it. What do we do first? Do we sit around and play the songs for a day? Do we record scratch guitars? Do we pore over lyrics first?

In some ways, making art is like looking at a hoarder’s house and wondering where to begin the cleanup. It’s also like looking out at a fallow field, steeling your resolve to tame it, furrow it, and plant—but you know it’s littered with stones and it’s going to be harder than you think. I was a grownup. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I shouldn’t have felt that old fear, anxiety, or self-doubt, right? Then again, maybe I should have. As soon as you think you know what you’re doing, you’re in big trouble. So before we opened a single guitar case, we talked.

I told my collaborators that I felt awfully unprepared. I doubted the songs. I was nervous about the musical direction the record seemed to want to take. I wondered if I was up to the task. I told them about the themes that had arisen in many of the songs I was writing: loss of innocence, the grief of growing up, the ache for the coming kingdom, the sehnsucht I experience when I see my children on the cusp of the thousand joys and ten thousand heartaches of young-adulthood.

Then we prayed. We asked for help. If you’re familiar with Bach, you may know that at the bottom of his manuscripts, he wrote the initials, “S. D. G.” Soli Deo Gloria, …

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Source: Christianity Today Magazine

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