How Music Can Help You Transcend Writer’s Block

By Taylre Rene Malloy~Self-Love Literature Contributing Writer

It’s no secret that music can transform your state of consciousness. Whether you’re into Jay Z or Mozart, music restores the soul. As you listen to music, a chemical reaction occurs inside your mind as the feel-good chemical, dopamine, that’s associated with intense pleasure activates. Bob Marley understood the healing powers of music and coupled with his own unique writing process, this power made him a prolific reggae artist.

Over the past year, both music and songwriting have proven to be a real game-changer within my writing process. Whether I’m writing a hot and steamy romance scene or an action pumped suspense scene, music is my go-to mood enhancer. Writing to music has helped me defeat writer’s block in every arena and songwriting, in particular, has proven to be a key element in world-building and character development. Below are five songs that truly inspire me.

Feeling Good – Nina Simone

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“Birds flying high you know how I feel. Sun in the sky you know how I feel. Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel. It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.” -Nina Simone, Feeling Good

The lyrical interpretation of this song is so compelling and timeless that just listening to it has the power to bring any character to life. As an impassioned yet joyful artist, Nina Simone’s lyrics are often a shout for freedom. “Feeling good,” is a mantra for any writer who specializes with characters that need that extra kick of soul spunk and resilience to face whatever challenges the world throws at them. As I allow the melodies of this song to unlock my mind, I take away from it an inner freedom that no society, government, nor machine can diminish. Whether you’re viewing the world from the eyes of your character or from the context of your own existence, Feeling Good by Nina Simone teaches us to smile sweetly at the lessons of life. No matter the odds.

To My Groom – Ishvari

Though little is known about the origins of this song within the United States, To My Groom by Ishvari is a lovely composition known to unblock the heart chakra and restore inner peace. Composed exclusively in Hindi, I found myself hypnotized as I listened to this song for the very first time and use it whenever I need to invoke wildly authentic passion within my writing. This song is also very nice to meditate to and has been known to be an instant mood raiser for me. Once your meditation is complete, try writing whatever comes to your heart. Don’t be afraid to explore this side of the writing process, as it can be incredibly healing for both you and your audience.

Ishvari specializes in pure chill-out and lounge instrumentals with an Indian flair which can be great for writing historical or contemporary fiction, or whatever your heart desires. Ishvari’s members are Prahada Guuray, Uday Singh, Sarasa Pankaja, Sumati Nidra, Dinkar Bansi, and Radhika Anandi. Their latest album, Sunrise on Silk Road will leave you breathless. Take a listen before your next writing session if you wish to experience maximum writing enchantment.

Kendrick Lamar and SZA – All The Stars

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“Corrupt a man’s heart with a gift That’s how you find out who you dealin’ with A small percentage, whom I’m building with I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning.” -All The Stars Kendrick Lamar, SZA

Afro-futurism offers a critical message to many African American songwriters, poets, and lyricists. If you’re a writer of Afro-futurism like myself, this song will help open your mind up to the many possibilities of worlds and universes for melanated characters. The concept of Afro-Futurism spans beyond galaxies and offers a breathtaking perspective for Black writers. I listen to this song whenever I need to visualize or transcend the limitations society places on me, and more importantly onto the psyche of African American fictional characters. Who said that young black children can’t live on alien planets that offer new ways of life and culture? Or that there isn’t a highly advanced Kemetic civilization living harmoniously in a not so distant universe, just waiting to enlighten humanity? The possibilities are endless!

The goal in mind while writing to this song is to critique the present-day dilemmas of African-American characters, and to revise, interrogate, and re-structure the historical events of the past in order to reshape the future. I love using this song to build confidence in my writing, especially if I’m writing something politically charged or revolutionary. For me, this song offers an expansive perspective on my writing allowing me to world build through the use of science fiction, technology, and Proto-African symbolism.

Elephant Castle – Marmor

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Another rare track indeed, and I must admit that my taste in music is a bit eccentric. As an instrumental interlude for the soul, Marmor by Elephant Castle will help you enter into what I like to call Goddess Mode – a state of consciousness where your wildest imagination becomes awakened, offering any writer a potent dose of creative nirvana. Making their debut release in 2006 on their Cosmic Chill Volume 3 album, Elephant Castle offers a variety of tracks for the free spirit that will truly take your imagination to a different dimension. Try listening to this song if you write strong female (or male), protagonists and need to add an extra pinch of Goddess to their character. You definitely won’t regret it.

Fight The Power – Public Enemy

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“What we got to say power to the people no delay. Make everybody see. In order to fight the powers that be.” -Fight The Power, Public Enemy

Last, but certainly not least, Fight the Power by Public Enemy has to be my ALL time favorite song in history to write to, and for good reason. Incorporating various elements of activism and profound allusions to African-American culture, including the civil rights movement, the black church, the colonialism era, and increasing racial injustices within America, Fight The Power is my go to theme song whenever I write, regardless of the genre. In the context of the history of race relations, 1989 was a powerful year in the ongoing struggle for equality for Black people in America. Listening to this song brings me closer to this struggle and the writings of Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X.