A Writer's Block Breaker: 30 Songs For 30 Chapters

As most of you know, I'm slightly obsessed with books on the writing craft. And a few weeks ago, I was poking around in Barnes and Noble (as you do) and picked up the book Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Speculative Genre Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers  (Edited by Laurie Lawson) to flip through.

Now, I write romance, so you may be wondering what would make me pick up a book about speculative fiction, but I like to expand my horizons. And there are things to be learned from other genres. Plus, I love horror and may one day pen something with some scary stuff.

Anyway, this book is filled with short essays (1-2 pages) on different topics: World Building, Plotting, Creativity, etc. and at the end of each essay are writing exercises. (Hence the title Now Write!)

And I've only read a handful of them thus far, but it's turned out to be a great book already. And one of the exercises I read last night got me moving in all kinds of creative directions. This exercise was by Diego Valenzuela in an essay titled "The Constant Writer: How To Plot An Entire Story In Minutes and Never Run Out of Ideas"

I won't go into the whole essay because you should buy the book. But the exercise he suggests is so much fun and oddly effective at sparking ideas. So here it is:

Put your playlist on shuffle. Write the numbers 1-30 for your 30 chapters and then label each chapter with the song title that comes up. Then use those titles to help plot/spark ideas for your story.

I read it and was like--sounds interesting but how could that work? So, of course, I tried it.

Here's what I got with my own playlist:

Pretty cool, yeah? Especially that near the "black moment" time in a book I have Live and Let Die, Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone, and Walk Away. And then the last chapter is a song about goodbyes. 

But these are my songs that I'm already familiar with, so I decided to try a variation. I put on Spotify's Coffee House station and did the first 30 songs of that. And look, I ended up with a road trip book! And I kind of got a story idea from it. How awesome is that?

Then I was chatting with my friend Julie Cross and she did it. And when I looked at her list, I thought--hey she has a sci-fi space novel! Daylight, Extraordinary, Come Fly With Me, Defying Gravity, Radioactive, 93 Million Miles...


So yeah, you've just lost the next hour of your life because I bet you can't resist. ;-)  If you do one, feel free to post it in the comments. I love seeing other people's lists.