Posted by Craig Borlase on 3 May 2018

TeachingHow To Stop Yourself Getting Stale

Chris Lawson-Jones – songwriter, worship leader and Integrity Music A&R man – on how he keeps creatively fresh. 

Have you ever felt jaded?

 

Well, I’ve got a six month old baby at home, so I’m tired pretty much permanently these days., But as a songwriter and A&R man, I’ve noticed that there are two different ways that I can feel jaded.

The first is after completing an album. You’ve gone from talking about it, dreaming about it, planning it, pulling team and budgets together, hitting all your deadlines, coordinating the artwork and the songwriters and the musicians. And once you’ve got the finished CD in your hand, that’s when I feel tired.

Then there’s the daily and weekly chaos of a busy life. When you’re juggling creative projects, work and family life, being exhausted is hard to avoid.

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But can you avoid it, or is it inevitable?

When it comes to projects, I try to get closure on them at the end. It helps to take time to sit with the producer, the artist or whoever else and make times to talk about and celebrate it. It helps to reflect like this. I also try to make sure that I’ve not got too many projects going on at the same time, and I don’t like going into another project when I’m still tired from the previous one.

It’s important to know yourself and what you need. I’m an introvert, so time on my own doing things that I find life giving is really important. I’ve learned that in the swirl of work, creativity and family life, I have to be intentional about finding that time. So I go running, and watch the local non-league football team with a couple of mates who I can talk with about things other than music. And since we’ve had a house that has needed renovating I’ve become a gardener. I feel about 70 years old but it’s really therapeutic. Find something life giving that’s different from the thing you would normally be giving your energy to.

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Has anyone mentored you in this?

I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head, and that’s probably a problem in itself. One of the things that we are not great at in the church is celebrating rest. It’s an important discipline - my friends working in mainstream jobs don’t seem to have much problem switching off when they leave the office.

Sometimes as christians we think there’s so much purpose behind what we’re doing that we can’t stop. The work is never done so we should never switch off. But we need to give ourselves permission to embrace other things in life, to not carry it all on our shoulders.

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What about music? What do you listen to that reinspires you?

Because of my job I listen to a lot of worship music, so I try to listen to as much other stuff as I can when I’m not working. When I run I listen to Spotify’s pop and discover playlists, and when I’m driving I listen to Radio 1, with a bit of Classic FM or Jazz FM just to keep my ears fresh.

We’ve never been in a place where it’s easier to discover new music. Rivers and Robots curate a great playlist called Indie Worship - full of really interesting sounds from all over the world. The Good Christian Music blog is also good for stuff that’s off the beaten track.

One last thing. As a worship songwriter it’s obviously really important that we pray, read the Bible and keep close to the Lord. But I think we also need to know what’s going on in the world beyond the church too. So follow the news, read magazines, be friends with people outside the church  and remain connected to what’s going on in culture and society - not so that you will be led by it, but so that we won’t be writing from an isolated, island mentality.

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Chris Lawson Jones playing My Jesus for New Wine Worship

 

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