Writing Homework #13: Song Lyric Inspiration

Song and song-lyric writing prompts are nothing new, but I’m going for a slightly different tactic here.

My husband and I are both devoted Pumpkinheads, being teenagers from the ’90s, and early on in our friendship we bonded over our similar tastes in music quite strongly.

On our car trip for Christmas vacation, we popped in some Pumpkins for nostalgia’s sake–I hadn’t actually listened to Machina – The Machines of God in years.

I was caught by a single line from “Try, Try, Try” —

the automatic gauze of your memories

In five words, it says so much. How memory is imperfect and fades over time, and how that’s something beyond control.

Now, if I wanted to use this directly in my own writing, obviously that’s plagiarism. And plagiarism is bad, okay?

But there’s nothing stopping me, or any writer, from noting down lines we love, that speak to us, and adapting that imagery or emotion for ourselves, reinterpreting it.

I’m not going to go so far as to recommend you keep yet another dedicated journal just for song lyrics, like the vocabulary journal, but if you already do have a little notebook handy for your writing thoughts, add those song lyrics in, with whatever images or ideas they spark in you, however they make you feel. Take some time to listen to old favorites, especially music you might have neglected for a while, see what memories the songs conjure up, and write about that too.

When you need inspiration later for your projects, or when you need to capture a specific tone for a scene, you’ll have your own words ready to guide you.

Love Songs Are My Favorite: Inside the Music of WHAT WE NEED TO REBUILD

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Every book of mine has a playlist, it’s the way I roll.

If you weren’t around for the first two, you can catch up on your listening here:

What We Need to Survive :: What We Need to Decide

The final installment in the series has its emotional ups and downs just as the story does, so be prepared for a rollercoaster.

What We Need to Rebuild playlist

The Promise — What better way to start things off than with a song about strength and survival? Nina did make Paul a promise, after all.

Satellite — Paul’s always been watching Nina, in one way or another.

Sweetness Follows — Once again, they can’t all be love songs. Family’s complicated.

Colorful — Love doesn’t expect someone to be perfect; love accepts them as they are.

Peace — A song that covers all the bases of Paul’s hopes for the future.

Hold On Forever — The first time I heard this, I knew it would be something Paul would sing to Nina.

Losing It All — What they both want most is to be together.


I’m excited to get to finally share this, I’ve been sitting on some of these songs for two years now…and I’m even more excited to finally share the rest of the story! Next Monday, everybody, and you can finally find out how it ends!

Writing Homework #9: Every Song a Story

A long time ago, under a different name on an account long deleted, I was an active participant in /r/WritingPrompts, before it became a default sub and exploded into a crazy pit of meme prompts. I didn’t stick around, and to be honest, I have no idea what the community is like these days.

But I do remember one prompt in particular, to take a song that almost tells a story, and write a scene based on it.

My response to that prompt is lost to the sands of time (and the account deletion) but I do remember I chose “Shape of My Heart” because the song so clearly defines a character, but not the story itself.

So this week’s assignment is to seek out a similar song, not one that already lays out a story in great detail, but one that gives insight into the character or situation it describes, and write a drabble/scene/flash fic based on it.

I know, I know, song prompts aren’t exactly a new idea, but I want to present my take on it.

Have fun and keep writing!


Need to get caught up on your assignments?

Love Songs Are My Favorite: Inside the Music of WHAT WE NEED TO DECIDE

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With a new book comes a new playlist!

I don’t actually listen to music when I write–too distracting. (I usually listen to rain sounds, or nothing.) So this isn’t the music I wrote to, but a combination of the songs that inspired me, or the songs I hear on the radio that make me think, “Paul would sing this. Absolutely. This is his jam.”

(Spotify Playlist Link)

Be Mine – It was actually hard to chose a single David Gray song to include, because this was one of at least five I could have. The man knows his love songs!

Faster – Cheerful, sweetly sexy, and dirtier than I realized the first few times I heard it, until I started learning the lyrics.

The Living Years – Wait, not a love song? Family’s complicated.

Breathing – I always thought this song was a pretty good depiction of being in love with an introvert. You know, like Nina.

Hymn For Her – I could not have written a better song encompassing Paul’s character arc in this book. (He’s still trying to write Nina’s song, and someday, I’m going to have to, so it’s too bad Stephen Christian already did. Because he did, and this is it.)

Wanted – Wait, country? Paul may be from Kentucky, but he doesn’t sing country! (Elena doesn’t listen to country, either!) Except this wonderful little earworm is perfect for the list.

Grandma’s Feather Bed – I promise this song is here for a reason, but you’ll have to read to understand. (And just because I’m a lifelong Muppet fan, here’s The Muppet Show version too.)

The Guy That Says Goodbye To You Is Out Of His Mind – Title says it all.

I Won’t Give Up – No, no he won’t.


What We Need to Decide is out on Friday! Just a little longer, everybody!