#summersparks DAY 15 BONUS POST: What Songs Rock Your World? by Claire Rudolf Murphy


Summer SparksWhat Songs Rock Your World?
by Claire Rudolf Murphy


Music can be a powerful tool in our lives, and in our writing. Think about it. We’re always singing or dancing at special times– birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals. Music can make us feel things that words alone cannot. It wasn’t until my last two books that I realized just how much it could enhance my own writing and how much I loved singing in my own life. While researching a book on women’s suffrage set in California I ran across a suffrage verse written to the well-known tune “My Country Tis of Thee.” My story morphed into an historical fiction picture book, so I had my two girl characters sing this verse as they marched in a suffrage parade. And when I did readings for my book when it was published, I asked the crowd to sing along with me. It also got me thinking about whether other protest groups had written verses to this song.

I am a NF history geek, so for years I had been researching protestors from many races and religions who had stood up for equal rights throughout our country’s history. Had other groups written verses to this song, I wondered? Sure enough they had and before I knew it, I had uncovered a terrific structure for a nonfiction book that I had been struggling with for a long time. Singing the verses at readings and getting others, especially younger people, singing, too, and writing their own verses to the song, has been great fun. Two choirs here in Spokane recorded the verses from the book, and it gives me great delight just to listen to them on my web site.

But enough about me. This is your month to come up with new writing ideas and bring new energy to your work. Since I am the last post of this Summer Sparks series, here is a list of suggestions of how to bring music into your writing life. A prompt follows the list.


  • If you listen to music while writing, come up with your writing anthem this month or even an entire play list to get your creativity pumping every day. I need absolute quiet, but before and after the work, a musical interlude brings energy.
  • Think about a manuscript you are working on. Where could you musical details in the story line? Snippets of a song, a character who plays an instrument, a character’s flashback brought on by a song. Even if you write nonfiction, music can be a part of a biography or event.
  • Because music brings me joy and uses another part of my brain, I have decided to join a women’s choir next fall. How about you? What activity, musical or other, could feed another part of your brain and make it stronger when you return to writing?
  • Opera singers use a term called tessitura (Italian for “texture”), to define the most comfortable range for a singer’s voice. Take a look at some of your manuscripts. Has the voice in each one found its tessitura? Or is there more work to be done?


Writing Prompt:

Make a list of ten memories from your life triggered by or focused around music. Such as driving along in the summertime listening to the Beach Boys, your worst birthday party, the song at a relative’s funeral. Free write on one of these memories for five minutes. Try to include other senses besides sound – sight, taste, touch, and smell.

Now study your list again and next to each memory, write down a scene you could build into one of your writing projects.


As we close up Summer Sparks, let’s sing out for Tracey Cox for her inventive program to encourage us all to dig deeper and find the music in our stories. Thanks, Tracey.


Claire Rudolf Murphy

Claire Rudolf Murphy



Claire is the author of:
My Country Tis Of Thee
Wild Garden JKT




Do you use music to find inspiration?
What background noise (if any) do you like to have?
What other things do you use that hasn’t been discussed?


Missed a SUMMER SPARK? Don’t worry, you can find them here:

Day 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic  by Kelly Milner Halls
Day 2:  The Power of Doodling  by Alison K. Hertz
Day 3: Cause & Effect  by Alayne Kay Christian
Day 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja  by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Day 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End  by Julie Gribble
Day 6: The Final Word  by Jodi Moore
Day 7: Inspiration Station  by Susanna Hill
Day 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar
Day 9: Platform Building Can You Build It? Yes, You Can!  by Tracey M. Cox
Day 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line  by Kirsti Call
Day 11: Burning Down the House aka Revision by Donna Earnhardt
Day 12: Persistence  by Donna M. McDine
Day 13: Writing Your Way to a Spark  by Kris Dinnison
Day 14: Hope In Your Heart  by Carol Gordon Ekster
BONUS: What Songs Rock Your World?  by Claire Rudolf Murphy
Follow-up #1: TIPS
Follow-up #2: 9 Ways to Tighten Your Story
Prize Announcement: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

34 thoughts on “#summersparks DAY 15 BONUS POST: What Songs Rock Your World? by Claire Rudolf Murphy

  1. I have tried having background music going as I write but found that I kept ignoring my writing especially if I was listening to Golden Oldies (I’m a huge Golden Oldie nut – 50s & 60s Rock & Roll – and have a huge collection on my computer). I then went to New Age Music but I kept drifting off, especially if it was Yanni… yup, I’ll admit it… I’m a Yanni fan. The only thing that I now use is the music from Mother Nature; the ducks and geese talking from down on the beaver ponds, the singing birds and chirping crickets, the wind through the trees, and babbling water in the brook

    I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, Tracey for a wonderful experience. I, for one, am sorry to see Summer Sparks come to an end. I ended up with 25 new PB ideas and have “sloppy copies” (first drafts) for 8 of them. I will definitely be here again next year!

  2. I love music! I always have a personal anthem…it changes from time to time. I also use the website coffitivity.com for background noise…sometimes with the radio on as well. Thanks for a great post! And thank Tracey for a fabulous program!!

  3. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 1: In Celebration of Summer Magic by: Kelly Halls | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  4. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 2: The Power of Doodling by Alison Hertz | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  5. Pingback: #summersparks Day 3: Cause and Effect by Alayne Kay Christian | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  6. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 4: How to be a Marketing Ninja by Corey Rosen Schwartz | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  7. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 5: A Visual Writing Prompt: Begin at the End by Julie Gribble | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  8. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 6: The Final Word by Jodi Moore | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  9. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 7: Inspiration Station by Susanna Hill | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  10. Pingback: #summersparks. DAY 8: Voice and Word Choice in Picture Books by Tara Lazar | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  11. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 9: Building a Platform by: Tracey M. Cox | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  12. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 10: 5 Ways to Hook Your Reader with Your Very First Line by Kirsti Call | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  13. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 11: Burning Down the House by Donna Earnhardt | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  14. Pingback: #summersparks 12: Persistence by Donna McDine | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  15. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 13: Writing Your Way To A Spark by: Kris Dinnison | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  16. Pingback: #summersparks DAY 14: Hope In Your Heart by Carol Gordon Ekster | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  17. Thanks Claire for the great post it was very thought provoking! I love music and often listen to it when brainstorming and trying to get inspired. However, when everything is “progressing nicely” I love complete silence. It seems that I don’t get distracted and I can hear my own thoughts. Also, thanks so much Tracey for Summer Sparks. I’ve learned a lot and the challenge has really challenged me to focus!

  18. Inspiring post. I find I can listen to music while writing, but it can’t have lyrics or I get distracted. Love the writing prompt. Thanks a bunch 🙂

  19. Music, occasionally inspires me as a writer. More so, I feel silence is best to allow the thoughts to flow from my head. Thank you, Claire for the inspiration. Tracey: So many summer sparks are sparking brightly for me. I am thankful for all that you do and did to make our Summer Sparkles sizzle! ~Suzy Leopold

  20. I don’t normally listen to music when writing (always afraid I’ll be distracted) but as I haven’t done it before that is exactly what I’m going to try this evening. Thanks for the inspiration and prompt!

  21. I looooovvvveeee music, come from a family of musicians, wanted more than anything to be a rock star, but happen to be tone deaf. I can dance, and I can lip sync, and I can rock it out in the shower and in the car on lonesome long drives, but haven’t used music to inspire or accompany my writing. I look forward to trying this venture out. Thank you Claire and Tracey.

  22. Love today’s writing prompt. I have a hard time listening to music while writing–I keep concentrating on the song and singing along!

  23. It’s funny how I forgot all sorts of things but song lyrics, even from songs I haven’t heard in years, linger in the corners of my mind.

    The writing exercise made me think back and I remember a very funny experience from 5th grade. Thanks for the laugh.

  24. When I’m writing is about the only time I don’t listen to music. I guess I must because I met a girl I hadn’t seen since her childhood and she told me that the tunes I played on my radio, while transporting kids, was how she met her disc jockey husband!!!

  25. Pingback: #summersparks and that’s a wrap! | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  26. Listen to the music makes me sing the words without even know what the words are. Also, enjoyed reading your post, and sometimes a few words make it to an idea. Thanks for the fun and informative info Summer Sparks. And I hope everyone’s Summer Sparks.

  27. Pingback: #summersparks Follow-Up: TIPS | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

  28. Pingback: #summersparks: Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner | a writers blog by: Tracey M. Cox

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