One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given for writing songs is from a top, top guy called Steve Parsons who once gave me the analogy of moving into a new house and turning on the kitchen tap for the first time in months: initially as the water runs it can be muddy-brown and not fit for much; after a while it runs clear and the clarity comes allowing you (and others) to drink. This is how I’ve come to find writing too – if you allow the tap to keep running (keep writing) eventually the gold comes. Don’t be put off by the muddy water and get used to sifting the brown from the clear!
The other really helpful piece of advice that I’ve remembered over the years, that’s added quality to my writing projects, is to do with writing widely & with variety – i.e. it’s helpful to write several options for verse, pre-c, chorus and bridge sections and then fit the best bits together. It won’t always work like that (you might hit a sweet spot where all comes at once) but if you’re anything like me you’ll usually do this:-
you’ll start with an idea, catch a melody idea or hook, and then focus in on that – it might be a really catchy pre-chorus idea, for example. Then it might be that the other sections you’ve written either side of the bit of gold might not be as strong. Identifying where the weakness is around the strength, and then chipping off the rougher parts and writing something better, is essential in crafting the song into its strongest end result. It can be hard to look at the song you’ve written objectively and then ask yourself, “where could this be better?” (melody and lyric) but the real skill and discipline of song-writing is then in re-shaping sections and trying out different combinations rather than banging your head against the same arrangement.
Writing isn’t always linear like this, but these are two principles that will help you with the ‘craft’ of chipping away at a rough diamond of a song to get something better. I think this is especially important when you write for church congregations. I highly appreciate songs that have blood and sweat running through them, not lazy cliché, especially in lyric.
Remember to collaborate, ask a select few in your world not ‘what’s good about this?’ but ‘where could this be better?”. If you hear trusted friends or family humming or even singing a section later on, you have a good idea that it’s strong!
Finally, sometimes the best thing you can do with something you’re working on is to put it down, press pause, re-visit it later and start something new in the mean time.
Hope this helps! Give it a go!