3 Powerful, Made-For-Writers Playlists You Should Hack

flow

Flow is a subjective state that people report when they are completely involved in something to the point of losing track of time and of being unaware of fatigue and of everything else but the activity itself.”-  Quote from Talented Teenagers: The Roots of Success and Failure 

I have a restless mind. I can’t  read anything for ten minutes without losing focus and switching to something else. And it’s worst online. I am convinced online reading is responsible for this distracting, unsettling habit I’ve cultivated.

I am not sure what causes it, except that it is worst when I am having a depressive episode, and that is understandable, considering the chemical imbalance that depression creates in the brain. (The last eight months I have been dealing with a most stressful experience that sapped much of my brain power, concentration and motivation.)

But I am a writer, and for writers, being controlled by a restless mind is one counterproductive habit that’s a major deal-breaker. Try adding writer’s block to that. On a bad day, I may not get anything done. Sometimes, as my readers here will notice, these ‘dusty days’ have extended for months.

The consequence? Everyday I don’t write delays my dream of getting my freelance writing business off the ground. My confidence plummets. I lose writing flow. My vocabulary becomes constricted. My blogs become ghost towns and I become frustrated with myself for not making the progress I should as a writer.

How I Plan to Get my Groove Back like . . .

But Stella got her groove back, and I’m dead-set on getting mine too. (Ok, ok, maybe the method may not be as erotic… nevertheless I am gonna find a way to recapture the flow I desperately need to get my writing groove back.)

So I am on a journey to find solutions to help myself beat this thing. I am open to ideas from the experts in this writing business.

Over the next six weeks, I will challenge myself to test a few of the free (I have no money, remember) tools and hacks other writers have recommended, plus those I hope to discover  for myself along the way.  I’ll share how each is helping a dusty writer find her inspiration and get her writing groove back.

Playlist #1- Music To Listen To While Writing Essays, Papers, Stories, Poetry, Songs

Today, I’m starting with music.

Why music?

Calming music has always been a good antidote for my stressed mind.

So just before I knocked out this post a short while ago, I headed to Google. I entered the long tail keywords “music to help writers focus while writing,” and landed on YouTube. YouTube account, Soundings of the Planet comes up first in the Result pages, and I choose the first song in the 7-track playlist. It’s entitled Music To Listen To While Writing – Essays, Papers, Stories, Poetry, Songs. There are 7 tracks. It’s 47:03 minutes long, and is a series of beautiful instrumentals by Dean Evenson (www.soundings.com).

The titles in Track Listing looks promising:
1) Pure Light Mind – Meditation Moods
2) Calming Insight of Ourselves – Meditation Moods
3) Touch of Grace – Sound Massage
4) Timeless Spirit – Sound Massage
5) Pondering the Lotus – Peaceful Pond
6) Welcome to my Pad – Peaceful Pond
7) Water Caress – Peaceful Pond

So does the 641,372 views it has attracted. I press ‘Play‘ to see whether this music will deliver on the claim in the playlist titles.

Easy Listening. Check.

As I write this sentence, I am now 27 seconds into the video and I am still on task. Can I finish this post by the time the video ends? Stay with me to find out.

The selection of songs are relaxing. That’s the first noticeable thing. Most of the sounds seem to be piano and violin. Between the stringed instruments, I can hear what sounds like croaking bullfrogs and twittering birds; nature’s music is cleverly integrated. The sound massage the composer intended is working.

From one song to the next, the music is quiet, melodic, never jarring. It’s definitely mood music, easy on the ear and calming to my nerves.

And so far, words are flowing, which is definitely another plus for this solution.

Of course, it helps if you like instrumental and classical music. If this is not your type of music, then this will probably bore you to tears. But it works for me because I’ve always loved classical and instrumental music.

Evocative journeys for your writer’s mind

The sound massages evoke images. In the last 3 minutes of the track, I am transported by the sensory blend of oriental chimes and nature sounds to romantic places in my imaginings: a rugged, open, mountain vistas, birds making sleepy calls as a dusky sunset settles across the landscape as a lone rider on  horseback treks quietly across the desert home. I can see how a writer could get her groove back listening to this music for writing tracks.

The track ends and I have successfully completed a new blog post, breaking the long months-long writing fast  on this blog. Yeaaah. Music To Listen To While Writing – Essays, Papers, Stories, Poetry, Songs definitely gets my voteHere’s the link if you’d like to listen for yourself.

Playlist # 2: Music for Writing 1- The Phantom Music

Writers are listening to and liking this type of music for work, as you’ll see by the comments on the YouTube page. While you are there, check out Music for Writing 1 The Phantom Music, 1:49 minutes of curated music writers commenting on the page attest is successfully helping them. One writer wrote, “This helped me through major writers’ block I can’t tell you how many times. Thank you a million times over,”while another writer said, “Aiming to reach my 100,000 words in my novel. Six thousand left to go. Wish me luck!”

Playlist #3 – Music for Writing 11: Attack of the Music 

Other playlists on the page explore other genres and mix instrumentals with popular songs. Maybe Phantom’s epic theme music selections from the Lion King or Harry Potter movies or the strident tracks in Music for Writing 11: Attack of the Music will give you the writing gears you need to vanquish that 100,000-word novel, difficult speech, college paper, or 17-page creative writing project you have to complete in the next few hours.

Takeaway from Music Hack

So the result of Test 1 is conclusive. Music, not just any music, but instrumental music along the tone offered by this YouTube track does it for me. If like me, you suffer from Distracted writer syndrome (my coinage) as I’ve described, I’d recommend this music as a solution. If instrumental, easy listening is what you are after to quieten the noise in your brain, then try out this Youtube playlist.

Remember I’m hunting for solutions, so why not leave a comment sharing the writing focus hack that works for you while writing. Sharing will help other writers overcome this debilitating writing issue.

Pssst…. 

I’m Karen Taylor, a professional blogger, writer and online journalist based in Portmore, Jamaica. Thanks for stopping by. Need help with your next writing project? Reach me at gee4214@gmail.com. I’m on LinkedIn.

Have a Courageous Day

Sometime we wish others a good day, a wonderful day, a fantastic day.

I don’t frequently hear or wish others a courageous day.

But every now and then that’s the kind of day we need.

Especially when it has taken everything to roll out of bed and you just feel like sitting in a huddle, wishing not to face the world today

When your nerves are bundled in knots, tears are clogging your throat, you have nothing left to say but your soul is screaming and your hands are shaking

The sun is out but inside a bitter blizzard is brewing.

You need a brighter day

Only God can give you courage

From his infinite resources.

He can empower you with strength.

When faced with mind numbing, courage sapping situations, I often find consolation in music. If what you need right now is just an ounce of courage, here are three songs I use to get some  inspiration when I am depressed. If you too are having just that kind of day, let me share these three songs to help you press on through this tunnel.

Those who have overcome say there is indeed a light ahead.

1. To Find My Strength by Natalie Grant

2. His strength is perfect when your strength is gone – Cece Winans

2 Kings 6:16:  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”


When your strength is gone

You may need to let go and let God.

Lean on Him. Wait on Him.

He will embrace you.

3. Survivors never Quit by Glacia Robinson

You are not a victim. You are destined to win.

Feel the thorns and press on.

For those that are for you are more than those that are against you

Have a courageous day.

A ‘Jackass-Kicking’ Life Lesson from the Tale of a Donkey

Morguefile.com Photo

Morguefile.com Photo

Ya pick him up, ya lick him down
And bounce right back!
What a hard man Fe dead
Hard man Fe dead.

                                 – Prince Buster

The story is told of a man who had a donkey. For many years the donkey served him tirelessly. Trudging patiently back and forth between field and home each and every day; travailing to the marketplace under many hot suns and over many rocky paths, hampers laden with produce, never sick, never refusing to work, it followed its master’s behest year after year with faultless loyalty that one can only find in a donkey.

When the donkey became too old to work, the ungrateful man decided he was going to bury the donkey.

Alive.

So he dug a hole in the field and put the donkey in this hole. Then he started shovelling dirt onto the donkey.

But as he shovelled dirt onto the donkey, the donkey shook it off and stamped on it.

The man kept pouring more dirt on the donkey, and each time the donkey did the same thing:

Shook off the dirt, and stamped it down some more.

The man realised that the donkey was not being covered as fast as he liked, so he decided to increase the amount of dirt. Soon, he was piling it in onto this stubborn donkey who was taking just too long to die.

And then he noticed something. The donkey was no longer in the hole. As a matter of fact, there was no hole.

Now, looking him squarely in the eye was the dumb donkey that he had spent the last hour trying to put down.

Turns out that each time the donkey had shaken off the dust, he had stamped it until eventually he had made himself an elevation. The more dust the man threw at him, the higher and faster Donkey rose.

Unbeknownst to the dumb man, all along he was giving the street-smart beast a platform to leverage himself.

The Lesson

What lessons can we learn from this story?

We all have something in us akin to the street-smartness and hardiness of this donkey in my story. We all have some inner strength and resilience, but we often short-circuit those life hacks when we stop believing in ourselves and instead internalise the negative chatter that we allow other people to plug us into.

Some of us have served the people we love with loyalty. In return they have thrown dirt on us, some even scheming to bury us. Eventually if you let them, these dirt-throwers will smother, clog, and eventually destroy your self-worth and self confidence, your hopes and even your pipe dreams.

But like Donkey, you can shake it off, stamp on it and elevate. Change the dirt into a platform from which you elevate yourself: find a new lease on life, stop speaking in a whisper and start making your voice heard.

Dumb ass or no, you’ve got a butt and a kick in your arsenal. Start standing up for yourself, cause nobody is gonna do that for you. Becoming a roaring dragon if the enemy hold around you is the Great Wall of China. Find your inner beast and move through that wall to find your freedom.

Emerge from that hole that friend, that husband, that wife, that parent, that doctor, that community, that church member, that co-worker, employer or trusted partner has thrown you into, thinking you were gonna lie down and die.

Emerge from the ashes like a Phoenix with your chin high, eyes bright, your fiercest, most beatific donkey smile, and make it known that you may be a ‘donkey’, but you have 99 lives! And a kick and a butt for anyone who wants to test it.

And remember what my countryman Prince Buster says, ‘you a hard man fe dead’.