An essential part of my (Stephanie’s) creative process is making a playlist. Why? Because music is the main inspiration for my stories. The lyrics of songs that are important to me often spark ideas for characters and storylines. In my book Ballads of Suburbia, each character writes about the defining moment of their life, prefacing it with a song lyric. Those lyrics—lines like “It’s up to me now, my daddy has gone away” from “Had a Dad” by Jane’s Addiction, and “She’s been everybody else’s girl, maybe one day she’ll be her own” from “Girl” by Tori Amos—gave me the earliest sense of who my characters were, and what their stories would be about.
When I get obsessed with a song or an album, it is usually because that music is speaking to some part of me. I’m guessing you know what I mean. Scroll through your music library. Listen to a song, album, or playlist that has been making you feel all the feels. Pay attention to what a particular song, or a particular line or verse, makes you think of or see. Maybe it’s a really strong image that you can paint, draw, or photograph. Maybe it’s a scene—a real one, like a memory, or a fictional one that you’re just starting to make out—that you want to write a poem or story about.
Send what you come up with to [email protected] with the subject line “Creative Prompt” by Monday, February 29 at 6 PM EST. Please include the title of the song or lyric that inspired you, as well as your first name, last initial, age, and city/state/country.
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