Writer’s Block: A six-song remedy

It’s been a funny old week. Our political system has descended into anarchy, the smirk’s been smacked off Boris’ face, Tom Hiddleston’s plummeted from hero to zero and I’ve been laid up with a particularly nasty bout of Writer’s Block.

I blame Brexit.

In my house it’s responsible for everything, from the lack of milk to the loss of the ketchup bottle lid. Damn those far rightsies and their misplaced ideology. They’ve bought chaos into our simple, orderly lives.


But perhaps I should give them a free pass for this one. Writer’s Block is a disease, you see. A vile, sweaty, panicky, soul-zapping one that compels you to stare at a blank screen, the ticking clock and your Facebook home page simultaneously. How many times can you refresh the page in a minute? Ask the recently diagnosed – my record’s 24.

The symptoms are chronic, the recovery swift. And the prescription? It varies from writer to writer. For me? Simple. It’s music everytime. Whenever I feel it coming on I reach for my iPod. I have a tried-and-tested six-song/album shot at a cure…

1. Cyndi LauperThe Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough. Everyone loves The Goonies. Fact. I’m there in an instant, riding my BMX down the road with Mikey. It’s such a rush – a voyage into the unknown. This movie captured an entire generation’s imagination. Something I occasionally need to tap into to set fire to that keyboard again.

2. Bruce SpringsteenDarkness on the Edge of Town. The most evocative poet of my lifetime. Often just the first few lines of a song are enough to kick my brain into gear. It’s the way he captures a mood, a last chance, a sense of desolation. His words are as compelling to me as they are inspirational.

3. The 1975The Sound. A bunch of Emo boys singing about angsty pre-children relationship stuff? Not the best fit for a happily married woman with two kids racing towards her forties. But I can’t get this song out of my head. And for good reason. I just need to hear the opening bars and BAM I’m back in the zone.

4. Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes. I wrote my entire first book to this album on a loop. I couldn’t get enough. It’s like crack for the internal conflict.

5. Ryan AdamsHeartbreaker. And he does it so well. As talented as he is troubled, like all good alpha males. I could listen to anything by him and be inspired.

6. Gillian WelchLook at Miss Ohio. I LOVE strong female characters. I write them. I embody one in my own quiet, unassuming way and I really want my daughters to do the same. When I’m stuck with the direction of  my female lead I often ask myself, ‘what would Miss Ohio do?’ She’d get pissed and follow her heart of course.

I can work with that…


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