The Heart of Songwriting

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About the Book

A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Memorable Songs

In this insightful and detailed guide to the craft of songwriting, Dove Award-winning producer and career songwriter John G. Elliott digs to the core of Christian songwriting, demystifying the writing process. From getting started all the way to when and how to make a demo, this book covers the practical steps, potential pitfalls, and big-picture perspective that every songwriter needs—not only to create a great song but also to sustain a successful career. You will learn the essentials of lyric, structure, rhythm, style, and editing, plus how inspiration, creativity, and persistence play into success. A solid spiritual foundation underpins practical training as the author discusses the unique dynamics faith brings to songwriting.

Drawing on decades of proven success, John G. Elliott lays out what distinguishes a great song from a good song, how a songwriter can achieve memorability, and why some songs and songwriters have longevity. Specialized topics include prophetic song, writing for congregational singing, the role of the Holy Spirit and inspiration, and the habits of successful songwriters and composers. Filled with practical instruction, tips, and chapter assignments, this book is transformative for both aspiring and experienced songwriters of any genre. Great songwriting is within your grasp!


  • John G. Elliott


  • Forerunner Publishing

Publish Year:

  • 2019


John’s book is a must read for the Christian songwriter. He understands both the craft and the inspiration behind powerful songs. In this book, he puts practical tools together with spiritual insights which are incredibly useful. I have known John for over thirty years and am honored to call him friend. I trust his heart and his skill. Do yourself a favor and read it. —Michael W. Smith
Award-winning, multi-platinum recording artist

I don’t know anyone who has the heart of Christian songwriting more than John G. Elliott. He not only knows how to craft a song but, most importantly, he knows the Holy Spirit, the source of all creativity and truth. John’s songs have a lasting effect on the listener. If you are a songwriter looking for encouragement, you would do well to read John’s book. It will be a blessing and a source of inspiration to you. —Ricky Skaggs
2018 Inductee, Country Music Hall of Fame

When I need a solid word from God, I listen to John G. Elliott. —Max Lucado
Pastor and author

John G. Elliott is one of the most skilled songwriters I know. I wish I’d had this book, with the tools in it, to learn the craft many years ago. His songs are timeless . . . there’s no one better to learn from. —Misty Edwards
Chief singer and worship leader, International House of Prayer

A true guide and inspiration . . . John’s passion is to bring together the diligence of the craft of songwriting with the nearness and presence of the Lord and His love and power. John is an amazing songwriter . . . the real deal. —Mike Bickle
Director, International House of Prayer, Kansas City

About the Author

John G. Elliott is a Christian songwriter, Dove Award-winning producer, accomplished recording artist, and on the international roster of Steinway Artists. He has been nominated for eight Dove Awards as a songwriter and producer. Numerous artists have recorded his songs, including Pat Boone, Steve Green, Sandi Patti, and Ricky Skaggs, and he has cowritten with such notables as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Paul Overstreet, and Gloria Gaither. The Gospel Music Association and ASCAP have frequently invited John to chair workshops and moderate panels on the subject of songwriting. He ministers worldwide as a worship leader and speaker. John and his wife, Carol, live in Kansas City, Missouri, and are on staff at the International House of Prayer. They have five married children and three grandchildren.


  1. Foreword (by Misty Edwards)
  2. 1. Who Is Qualified to Write a Song?
  3. 2. Songwriting and Success
  4. 3. Songs That Hit the Mark
  5. 4. The Role of Inspiration
  6. 5. Memorability
  7. 6. Where Do I Begin?
  8. 7. Titles, Ideas, and Lyrics
  9. 8. Rhyme
  10. 9. Tell Me a Story
  11. 10. Editing—The Three Rs and the Three Cs
  1. 11. Speak to the Heart
  2. 12. Writing for Congregational Singing
  3. 13. Structure, Style, and Mood
  4. 14. Practical Tips
  5. 15. Christian Music and the Bible
  6. 16. The Prophetic Song
  7. 17. Habits of Successful Songwriters and Composers
  8. 18. Writing for Albums
  9. 19. Demo Time
  10. 20. A Song Is Born
  11. Appendix: Copyrights and PROs


Available Now