Recently I was accepted into an inspirational music competition which I typically am not bold enough to participate in but I decided to take a leap of faith. I am so glad that I did, because I gained a new perspective on my music. I presented an original song and they gave me a very thorough critique. They shared with me some of the rules of songwriting and composition, stating that you cannot break the rules until you first effectively use them. They challenged me to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments according to their feedback and create more symmetry within the composition. So, initially I decided to scratch the song all together and try to re-write it over again but with a completely different approach. I had not realized that writing a song (according to songwriting rules) is much like doing math. I would just simply write whatever was laid on my heart, not considering all the rules and regulations. I found myself bound, uninspired, and a bit nervous if I could actually pull it off in time for the first round performance. After coming up with a verse and new chorus I ran it by my best friend who is quite familiar with the original version of the song. She listened and then said to me that she thought that this new version of the song is not true to the essence of what made the original song great. She encouraged me not to scratch the old version, but instead just adjust it so that it fulfills the request for more symmetry. So I wrote out all my original lyrics then I re-worked the song from there. I removed some lines that were just not necessary. I added a simple chant to sections of the hook to make it easier for the listener to sing along to, which was another critique. Yes, I am often accused of being too wordy! Any,way I share all this to say that I found a way to keep my sound and style in tact while considering that there is a business side to this music thing. Essentially music industry professionals are looking for music that is marketable and will sell records. That is the bottom line, even in the Christian genre of music. The blessing was that I was able to receive critique without hurt feelings but with a mind bent on growing into the best and most professional music artist possible. It also make me more passionate about studying songwriting more so that I don't just write uneducated, but that I write with widsom and yes, inspiration. What has been your songwriting pattern or process and what areas would you like to grow in going forward?