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The Song Every Writer Needs to Hear

I’m lucky enough to be in an amazing in-person critique group that meets every other week. After our last meeting, I had a new story idea marinating and was feeling especially contemplative. Then my #1 writing inspiration song came on the radio, and I sang along and maybe cried a little. And then I thought to myself, “This is the song every writer needs to hear.”

What’s my song? Be Still by The Killers. I’d quote every line of the lyrics here if I were sure it wouldn’t be a copyright violation, but instead I’ll link to the song on YouTube here and iTunes here. Because when this writing gig feels hard, as it so often does, this is the song we need to hear. It’s all about the strength and beauty inside you and the courage to keep doing the thing you love, no matter what.

When I’d dried my tears and finished feeling all the feels, I wondered, What if there are other songs like this out there? What if each of my writing friends has their own song that every writer needs to hear?

And so, without further ado, I give you the awesome answers I received to that question:

“I highly recommend Ali In the Jungle by The Hours. There’s the normal version and then possibly a live version where the language is a tad more…salty. Such an inspiring, no-excuses song!” ~Christine Hayes

My Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors–by Moxy Fruvous. Not inspirational so much as just fun.” ~Heather Bouwman

Hey Jude. Every time.” ~Annie Laurie Henderson Cechini

Brave by Sara Bareilles, and here’s my obscure one: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test by John Mayer.” ~Monica Swanson Tesler

“It’s kind of literal, but Manchester by Kishi Bashi.” ~Rebecca Petruck

Plow to the End of the Row by Adrienne Young. I heard her on NPR in 2004. She inspired me to keep writing — plowing. I’ve written a blog post about it.” ~Caroline Starr Rose

Jimmy Eat World, The Middle. I find it endlessly encouraging.” ~Susan Adrian

Vienna Teng’s Level Up gets me going.” ~Jennifer J. Stewart

From Helen Boswell:
Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol
Only the Young by Brandon Flowers
Breathing Underwater by Metric
“I always listen to Where the Story Ends by The Fray when I’m nearing the end of a draft.”

From Erin Shakespear:
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (Have you seen the music video?!)
Uprising by Muse
Roll with the Punches by Lenka
The Show by Lenka
Live Like You’re Dying by Lenka (“I adore her!”)
Roar by Katy Perry
New Soul by Yael Naim (“I adore her too!”)

Thanks to everyone for their great picks! If you like these songs, please support the artists by buying them! 🙂

And now I’m wondering…What did we miss? What’s your most inspirational song? What song do you consider the one every writer needs to hear?

(Originally published May 15, 2015)

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