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So I decided to write this article after a period of writer’s block I went through. I tried all the normal things like going away from it, trying not to think about it, searching for real world inspiration but nothing was working. It was only when I was sitting down, making revisions to a screenplay and listening to a random music playlist on Spotify, that the inspiration came to me. I realised it was because of the music playing.
I figured this must be something that helps me get into the creative mood so I thought I would share my go to five artists when I’m writing. Some of these you may have heard of and some you may need to look up. Obviously they are not all going to be to everyone’s taste but hopefully there will be something that you can get behind and it will help you keep the “creative juices” flowing as it were.
This is my first choice when selecting music during my writing periods. I’m not sure what it is but there’s something about Whisper Rock that just keeps me going longer than almost every genre and this guy is truly one of the greats. A lot of people consider his songs to be “sad” or a “bummer” but for me, they are relaxing and allow my mind to focus on the task at hand. The songs are well-structured and the melodies aren’t wildly different allowing one song to merge into an entire album. Often I’ll find that an hour or two has passed when I only intended to write for 30 minutes; it is incredible really. Yes there is somewhat of a sad theme to some of the songs but I feel this works to the advantage of the writer. It gives you the chance to experience that mind set and the work will reflect, but it also can have an adverse effect. If I am writing happy and joyful moments while listening to whisper rock, I find myself consciously trying to write positively as a sort of protest to the theme of the song, if that makes sense. Overall, certainly one of, if not my top choice for music while I’m creating.
This man completely changed the way I viewed folk music. I used to think that folk (not to be stereotypical or offensive) was for people who lived in the deep south of the USA, who drove a pickup and played a banjo but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The combination of folk and indie that Alexi incorporates is incredible. It’s soothing and mellowing without being a downer and it can keep me going for a long time. It’s the music I like to listen to when I know I’ve got a lot of work to get done and just need to trudge through it. It gives me that “keep going” vibe, metronomic would be an apt way of describing it; the sort of thing that you would listen to on a long drive or a long writing session in my case and, it works wonders. When I listen, I hear myself keep repeating over and over in my head “don’t stop now,” and for me that’s a rare occurrence as I am terrible at getting distracted or procrastinating. Highly recommended for those long evenings with deadlines coming up.
Not to everyone’s tastes but extremely uplifting. A staple among the rock scene for years now. The continuity of their songs and albums has kept them as one of the greats virtually since they arrived on the scene. I find myself listening to their albums when I am trying to portray uplifting or discovery scenes during screenwriting and if I’m describing dramatic events in story writing. This is likely due to my personal bias, but really, what isn’t? I find all of the albums timeless and even the songs that are written as “sad” songs, I still find that the beats and riffs put me in the “never give up” feeling. With the tragic death of lead vocalist Chester Bennington in July, it marked the end of something truly special. New content will be sorely missed but, with the diversity they created over the years, we should all have plenty to fill those times where we need to be put into that dramatic and uplifting moods and spur on that wonderful creativity.
If you’re trying to delve into the messy turmoil of romance and love then look no further, Diana DeGarmo does this with such intensity, even the most anti-romantic people could describe some of the most heartfelt moments. People finding romance or heartbreak and the healing process, her selection of songs will give you the perfect inspiration to create the mushiest loving moments, deepest and most depressing heartbreaks, or some of the most uplifting recovery realisations. There isn’t a huge selection of songs available but she does have two EPs on Spotify which I can highly recommend when dealing with the delicate region that is relationships and all that goes along with it.
Finally I would like to include the late, wonderfully talented Eva Cassidy. The range of music she produced in her career works with almost any writing style but, specifically for me, I will always listen to her when I’m writing character discovery periods. For example, if I am writing about a relationship that has progressed beyond the initial infatuation period and the persons involved are learning about each other as well as themselves, I find her style a perfect fit. I also like to listen to her when I am trying to create a melancholy or bleak atmosphere. Really though, she has such a range, from uplifting interpretations of sad songs to heavily vocal driven covers of popular ballads, hopefully you’ll find something to get you in the right mood for what you’re writing.
I hope this list has been useful to you during your various writing periods and moods and I hope that there is something here you can get behind or at least give you suggestions to something that might. Certainly for me, I don’t think I would be able to push myself in my writing without artists like these. Obviously the choices are virtually endless and completely personal. If you have any suggestions that really work for you, I would love to hear about them and I wish you happy and productive writing.
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you” — Beatrix Potter