It was awhile before I heard about writers having playlists for certain books. Interesting concept. Some writers have certain customized soundtracks that they listen to while working on a particular story.

I myself wanted silence most of the time while composing the first draft of my WIP (work in progress). I would drive alone with the radio off and think — or go to the small apartment gym where we lived and look vaguely into the distance while my brain spun as I exercised. I didn’t want noise. Or, I wanted only the background of the jazz station that was piped into the exercise room by the apartment management.

But then it happened a few times that when I needed to work out (or my knees don’t operate properly) people were watching TVs in the small space so loudly so they could hear above the treadmill. So that meant I needed something to be able to create my own little bubble and concentrate in public. Thanks to our son, I figured out how to order songs off iTunes and put them on my phone.

These songs have now influenced and worked their way into my manuscript.

Or maybe it was the other way around – there are certain elements in the text (and in me, or that I see in life) that are also reflected in these songs.

While doing the elliptical, then floor exercises, then the treadmill — I listened to the songs below. They’re broken up into ones that I listen to in that order of activities. But I do sometimes mix it up. ‘Cause that’s the joy of modern technology.

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson – the greatest song ever, to begin a workout with. Especially when getting started on that torture machine (the elliptical). It’s so upbeat and I appreciate the humor, i.e:

“I’m smoother than a fresh jar ‘o Skippy.” (:

“I’m too hot — hot da** — make a dragon wanna retire man.”

“Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty — smoooch.”

Here are my favorite videos of dancing to Uptown Funk:

This 60 year-old dance teacher and her students have such energy in the first one! (: (: They’re at a competition and it’s amazing – you’ll be inspired. The second one is their appearance on Ellen.

Shake It Off – by Taylor Swift – just genius, and also a great beat for gettin’ ya goin’

Rich Girl – by Gwen Stefani & Missy Elliot — such a cool pairing and a cool song

Gangnam Style – by PSY – Love his philosophy of “Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy.” Plus any song that has actions a preschooler can enjoy, I will probably also like:

Kids know it’s just fun to jump around.

I Will Survive – by Gloria Gaynor – I love that the words can be applied to anything bad in our lives that we need to leave behind.

U Can’t Touch This – by MC Hammer – uh, again the humor … & also just the attitude

Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) – by Shakira & Freshlyground – goosebump inducing:

“You’re a good soldier — choosing your battles…”

“Pick yourself up and dust yourself off, and back in the saddle”

“When you fall – get up, oh oh — and if you fall – get up, eh eh”

[and then some stuff in another language – which I love]

Good stuff.

<– This one also gets listened to on repeat.

Single Ladies – by Beyonce – she’s awesome, so is this song

Footloose – by Kenny Loggins

Let’s Make a Better World – by Judith Hill & Tata Vega – 20 Feet from Stardom (Music from the Motion Picture) Believe me, you’re going to want this version of this song. You’ll need to buy the whole album, and it is SO worth it. These women’s voices…!!!

Lean On Me – by Darlene Love (feat. Lisa Fischer, Jo Lawry & Judith Hill) — see above — the soul in their amazing voices

Flashdance – by Irene Cara

Power – by Jeremy Loops

Fight Song – by Rachel Platten – I LOVE this song. I’ve listened to this one 15 times in a row before, when I especially needed a boost to continue writing work.

(Also by this time I was back up in our apartment and could do the last few exercises I do up there. One involves standing on one leg and throwing a beachball against the wall – so I could sing out loud and just dance around. :0)

Apparently this one was overplayed on the radio at one point, according to my husband. Too bad, because it’s awesome.

Brave by Sara Bareilles – I know she wrote this song for her friend. But like all good art, it has a universality to it that transcends even what the artist meant when creating. I think that also, the love that goes into something makes it more vibrant in the end.

Celebration – by Kool & The Gang

Unwritten – by Natasha Bedingfield – If this isn’t an anthem for writers, I don’t know what is. But it’s actually great for everybody ~

Staring at the blank page before you; open up the dirty window; let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find…

There’s that universality again.

Old Time Rock and Roll – by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band


Sk8er Boi – by Avril Lavigne

The Best of Both Worlds – by Hannah Montana – kind of makes me poignant listening to these words now, considering Miley’s life trajectory since then

Independence Day – by Martina McBride  – pulls at the heartstrings, but has hope somehow

To Daddy – she’s such a maestro, Dolly (Parton) is – what a storyteller

Let It Go – by Idina Menzel

I Love Rock ‘N Roll – sometimes I just wanna hear Joan Jett (& The Blackhearts) scream ARHWWWWUH!!!!!! That’s really the reason I listen to this song.

The Climb – by Miley Cyrus – great lyrics:

“I can almost see it, That dream I’m dreamin’,  I gotta keep tryin’,

Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose, Ain’t about how fast I get there, Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side,

It’s the climb, Just gotta keep goin'”

— stuff like that

Emma Opening Titles (from Emma 1996 film) – for when someone’s blaring the TV & I want to read on the exercise bike

Thanks to all the writers, artists, musicians who brought this music to the world!

What songs are your favs for working out (or writing)? I’d love suggestions for others. Many people are much more ‘musical’ than I.