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Zoë’s Songs for Writing

This is my standard go-to playlist for when I'm writing. A mixture of quiet sad songs, a few angsty ones, and a handful about New York City. Some of the songs have been on this list for over 15 years!

By Zoë A. Gulliksen

June 10, 2022

Ever since I was given my first Walkman, I would pick my favorite song on a CD and listen to it on repeat for hours while writing. Decades later, this habit hasn’t changed. I love Spotify’s annual Wrapped feature which tells me what songs I’ve listened to the most over the past year. These are the songs I connected to while working on a specific story.

My “Songs for Writing” playlist is the result of years worth of collecting random songs discovered on MySpace, recommended by friends, or on a mix CD a boy gave me. (I pity the generations that will never experience the rush of your crush shyly handing you a burned CD with a handwritten playlist.)

My writing playlists have always started with a score from the 2008 movie adaptation, Brideshead Revisited, titled “No. 1 Sebastian” because this song instantly allows my brain to slip into a writing headspace. It’s followed by a mixture of quiet sad songs, a few angsty ones, and a handful about New York City. It ends with “A Waltz for a Night” by Julie Deply from my favorite ending of a movie of all time, Before Sunset. Each song tells a story and I’ve connected with them because they convey emotions I see in the characters I write. Even though I mainly write historical fiction, feelings of love and loss are timeless. I hope you also find inspiration within the chords of these songs.

Zoë A. Gulliksen