Use Music As A Writing Prompt
Ending Writer’s Block Once and for All
I am on a crusade! True, it is a one-man crusade but still, I believe in the power of one. I want to end writer’s block for all of you….forever! I know, I know, I am aiming for the stars, but I also believe that man’s limitations are only determined by the size of his imagination, so bear with me while I explain how any future writer’s block need not happen.
Last week I wrote an article about using memories as prompts. I also wrote an article about using photographs as writing prompts. Those two articles, when combined with this article, will forever protect you from the dreaded “dead brain syndrome,” otherwise known as DBS!
Music has been around since the first cavemen played some tunes using coconut husks as bongo drums….and….music has served as an instant catalyst for memories and emotions since my Aunt Martha brought my Uncle Rufus to tears singing “Kill Your Man Slowly.” If you think about it you know I speak the truth. Think of one of your favorite songs and then do some contemplation. What emotions does that song bring to you? What memories are associated with that song? We all have them, those songs that make our eyes misty, or those songs that remind us of an important event in our lives….and if we all have them, then don’t you think that music just might be a great way to end DBS?
But please, don’t take my word for it. Let me demonstrate how this works for those of you who are groggy and not grasping my point. Allow me to name six songs from the past and tell you how they jog my writing brain and give birth to articles.
Here, There and Everywhere
I hear this song and I think of Bev. I hear this song and I think of love. Of course, this song came out when I was in college, so I can easily shift my thoughts to those wonderful and exciting days, but more than any other memory, the thought of Bev and the love she has brought into my life….well, I can get misty eyes listening to this one and let’s leave it at that.
How about you? Do you have a special “love” song that makes your knees weak and your heart palpate? I think you do; now write about it.
Between an Old Memory and Me
Lost love….lost lovers….I’m guessing most of you understand this message. Sitting in a bar, not wanting to talk to anyone, chewing over the lost opportunities, the words not said, the pain of seeing her leave, the memories, once sweet but now bitter….tell me you don’t remember!
My past is littered with lost loves and missed opportunities, and there is a good chance I’m not alone with those thoughts….but we survive…and we learn…and hopefully we grow…and that, my friends, is what life is all about.
This song was played at the funeral of my fiancé in 1998. Need I say more?
Isn’t it amazing the way certain songs can instantly make the tears flow? Aren’t we complicated creatures? I have cried listening to songs and I wouldn’t be able to tell you why. There is just something about the haunting melody that leaves me trembling like a little kid….but…what a great release. I hear this song now and I have nothing but wondrous memories of a beautiful human being who was taken from us far too soon.
And you? Does this song move you in a similar fashion? Do you have a special “sweet melancholy” song? Write about it. Explain those feelings to your readers. I promise you that they will have similar reactions and understand completely what you are feeling.
Pull out those old pictures
- Use Picture Prompts To Improve Your Writing Skills
Try this writing exercise to jar loose some ideas and get you back on the creative road once again.
Psychedelic baby and loving it! Welcome to the 60’s, that crazy, exciting, totally unpredictable decade that so shaped my life. I hear Cream play and I’m back there in the college dorm eating pizza at three a.m. I hear Cream play and I’m marching for Civil Rights. I hear Cream play and I’m back at the Filmore working backstage in 1969 and rubbing shoulders with musical legends.
And so much more….Vietnam and turmoil and hate and love….black and white and distrust and trust…say goodbye to the norm and say hello to the abnormal.
And what generation are you from? What music reminds you of that time and what memories do you have?
Running down a Dream
I have always been a dreamer. I have always been willing to drop what I’m doing and chase after excitement and adventure. It’s in my DNA and I’m so grateful for it. Look, over there, that’s Mount Rainier, well hell, let’s go climb it. Hey, I hear there’s a jazz festival in California this weekend, well hell, let’s go to it. I hear the Northern Lights are spectacular in Alaska well hell, let’s go see them.
Life is too damn short to hesitate. I refuse to be cheated of the limited time I have on this planet, and that’s what this song means to me. It was a beautiful day, me and Del were singing, little runaway. Can you feel the wind in your hair with the top down on the car, cruising down the road and running down a dream? If so then write about it.
You know how sometimes there are just songs that make you happy? This is one of them for me. My feet start tapping, I can’t sit still, I start singing and I’ve got a big old grin on my face all the way through it. I cannot listen to this song without feeling good about life. Same thing can be said about “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Stupid song, really, but the song is like magic to me.
- Use Past Memories As Writing Prompts
Our lives are filled with stories to write about. Look no further than inside yourself to find inspiration for your next story or novel.
Now You Do It
Now it is your turn to play this game. Here is what I want you to do:
- List three songs that remind you of a major change in your life
- List three songs that make you happy
- List three songs that make you sad
- Llst three songs that make you think of love
Now that you have your lists, you are ready to write. Remember, and this is important so pay attention….we all share commonalities. If a song makes you sad, and you write about why it makes you sad, I guarantee you that readers will not only relate but thank you for sharing your feelings. If a song makes you angry…say it reminds you of your ex who stole from you…then I guarantee readers will understand that and tell you so.
But let’s say you are not an essayist. Let’s say you don’t like to write about personal events and feelings. No worries! At the very least these exercises will jar your brain and shake out some new creative ideas to write about. Remember, that was the whole purpose of this article in the first place….to end DBS.
Don’t try and thank me, really. I’ll send you my bill and you can pay through PayPal.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”
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