Songs That Made Me Want To Live a Writer’s Life
Written By Regular Contributor, Kayla Dean
The first time a song changed my life was when I was ten years old.
I was sitting on the gray carpet in front of the TV when a trailer for the live action Peter Pan flashed across the screen. The lyrical piano line was so pure and melodious that I never really got it out of my head.
Back then there weren’t phones that could Shazam the song, so I wasn’t able to find it again. Even when I typed “Peter Pan music” into a search engine, nothing ever came up.
And then the commercial stopped playing on TV.
Several years later, I heard a song in Famous Footwear that was extremely similar to the one I’d heard in that commercial. To ears that hadn’t heard the song in a while, it sounded exactly the same. Only with words. I texted them to myself.
When I got home that night, I searched the words, found the group, and discovered the song. “Clocks” by Coldplay.
In my years as a writer, I’ve found many other songs that have changed my life, but none so profoundly as this one did.
Although I’d be embarrassed for anyone to see the little stories I wrote as a kid, they were all inspired by “Clocks.” I dreamed about this song, fairies and wide open windows the image that let me fall asleep. I’d like to think that the melody is just one of the reasons I stuck with this.
Finding great music that speaks to you as a creative person is a discovery process.
It doesn’t happen overnight, nor do the things we like always fall into expected patterns. I tend to like music with ambiguous words, or maybe no verbal expression at all. I most love the songs that allow me to imprint meaning, to interpret them in ways that create a strangely reciprocal relationship.
The song affects you, and you affect the song. The relationship between you and the song when you’re all alone is yours, even when you’re in a crowd of people. Since “Clocks” is such a well-known song, I’ve heard it in such a variety of places, but I’d like to think that song is just for me.
Music is so important to a creative life because it speaks to the relational nature of art.
Music, poetry, fiction, and a beautiful painting all have something in common: they all rely on the relation between the viewer and the text. When you really love a creation, you respond back and it becomes your own.
It’s like that theory of forms: maybe there’s real life that inspired the piece, the work itself, and our idealization of it. The third one is the reason why music helps our creative process. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer like me: all artists can benefit from a great relationship with music.
Music can place us in a stronger creative mindset. It allows us to persevere more sincerely towards our goals. Why is that?
Recently, I started plotting my second manuscript. The first one I wrote didn’t go so well. There were several reasons for that, but one of them was a lack of music with quietude. I had a lot of high-energy dance tracks that got me through that manuscript. I wrote faster, but tired of the story much sooner.
This second manuscript has been different. When I had to do setting research for my book, I found “It’s Time To Dream” by Henilios on a Youtube video. This time, I had Shazam handy. I searched for the artist instantly and found them. Now every single one of their songs is the soundtrack.
Every song tastes like rich, dark chocolate or the salty tang of the sea. It’s neoclassical music without words, so there is a lot of room for interpreting what may just be the best music I’ve ever heard.
Since finding these songs, the way I approach my writing has new depth.
I’m not sure if my writing is stronger because of the music, but it motivates me to seek quality in the things I write.
I don’t know where this story will end up, but I do know this: the process will matter because I trusted myself to it. That’s how the creative life works. Pursue interesting. Great music makes that search enough.
Kayla Dean helps authors and freelancers grow creative skills through actionable blog content, authentic personal stories, and a supportive community so they can make story the center of what they do. As a writer, graduate assistant, and writing consultant, she's passionate about living a creative life. When she's not reading from my stack of books or writing stories, you can find her exploring Las Vegas or flagging down a lavender latte.