Writer’s block sucks.
Whether you’re a major author like J.K. Rowling, an indie published author like some of my friends, working on your debut novel like myself or a student slogging through term papers and portfolio projects, you’ve probably dealt with this. You stare at the screen, the blinking of the cursor silently mocking you, frustration growing until it erupts like Mount Saint Helen. Personally, writer’s block can make me extremely cranky.
There are hundreds of posts out there on the subject, a plethora of things to try when your muse goes on vacation without you. Some of the most common are step away, go outside, read, that kind of thing. For me, though, I often want something that will shake the words loose a little faster. That’s when I turn to one of my life-long loves – music. I usually have something instrumental playing while I write, but when I’m stuck, these are the songs I turn to, in no particular order of importance.
1. Better When I’m Dancin’ by Meghan Trainor
I’ll confess, I have some of the lyrics from this one on the wall of my work room. It’s also frequently the one I start with. If I can get myself up out of my chair for a little while, that’s even more helpful than just listening to music and this one gets me up. I don’t mind admitting I often dance around my work room (or the living room or wherever I’m writing) when I’m battling writer’s block. There’s just something about this one I can’t help dancing to.
2. Something Wild by Lindsey Stirling Ft. Andrew McMahon
This awesome song from Pete’s Dragon is another I’ve posted lyrics of on my walls. Given the things I’ve dealt with in my life and how terrifying it is to be working towards traditional publication, this one is on my list for the hope it gives me. It reminds me I’ve beat the odds before, risen above the crap that’s come my way and am stronger for all of it. When I can tell fear is holding my muse hostage, this one can easily end up on repeat.
“Even though you’re scared, you’re stronger than you know”
3. Rather Be by Clean Bandit Ft Jess Glynne
As with most of their work, the video is…umm…unique. In an awesome way. The beat of this one has the same effect as #1 in getting me up and moving. The lyrics have a similarly inspirational feel to #2, though I think it is actually a love song of sorts. Dancing + inspirational = win in my book.
“If you gave me a chance, I would take it / It’s a shot in the dark, but I’ll make it”
4. Stronger by Clean Bandit Ft Julia Michaels
Yup, these guys get two in a row from me. It’s fairly common for me to play them back to back. This one is another fear buster, as well as contributing to the dancing that often has my cats running from the room. Frankly, I love everything I’ve heard from them, which is unusual for me with any artist. On the days when I can manage to write while listening to songs with lyrics, there are a lot of their songs on my writing playlist.
5. Let’s Go by Matt and Kim
The lyrics on this one are a bit odd, perhaps, but that’s part of why I like it. That and the upbeat vibe can help me get my energy back when I’m lagging. Especially towards the end of the day when energy begins fading or any time I just can’t seem to get my brain to function.
6. Dance Of The Ice Weasels by Tartanic
This one is, admittedly, out of left field. Strange name, and the type of music can be a bit of an acquired taste. I got hooked on (good) bagpipe music about a decade ago and these guys are one of my favorites. This is another energy builder for me. Bonus is, if I close my eyes, their music takes me to one of my favorite places – the faire where I spend my summer weekends. Sometimes a little escape there is just what I need to get the words going again.
7. OMI Cheerleader
I enjoy both this awesome remix and the original. The original video is hysterical, so that’s a bonus. I love love love his style, and Reggae/Reggae-esque music in general. This one is super danceable, and the lyrics feel like the fit perfectly with writing romance.
8. What Lovers Do by Maroon 5
Still upbeat but a little slower than a lot of the other songs I have here, this one often ends up at the end of the playlist as a sort of cool down if I’ve been dancing myself into a frenzy. The beat is tough to resist.
9. Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of – Backstreet Boys
I’m gonna show my age here for a minute – I’ve loved these guys since middle school, when they first came out. When I heard they had new music, I was all over that. I was beyond thrilled to see Kevin get the solo vocal time I always thought he deserved, and hot damn, they’ve aged well. Of course, Brian being shirtless doesn’t hurt, even if it is distracting.
Drooling over these amazingly talented men aside, I adore the message of this song. I could have used these words when I first discovered them in the 90’s, and somehow that makes it even more powerful to me now. Because I am showing what I’m made of. I rose above the bullying of my classmates and disparaging comments of teachers to chase my dreams and make a life I’m happy with. This song is my go-to starter when I’m really feeling like I’ll never succeed as an author.
10. In A World Like This – Backstreet Boys
This is another where danceable music meets inspiring words. I know a common fear among writers is that their idea isn’t unique, that it’s just another take on something that’s been told hundreds of times before. This song reminds me that the world can always use more stories, especially powerful love stories, and to put my heart into every line. It helps give me what I need to keep going, keep trying.
When I really need a pick-me-up, I’ll actually watch the video rather than just listening to the song. The message is incredibly powerful, especially the end. A warning, though – it does include brief imagery from 9/11.
There you have it – my top ten list of writer’s block busting songs. I hope even just one of these can help if you’ve stumbled across this post in a search to end your own battle with the block. Spread the word, share the love!
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