Got writer’s block? Lin-Manuel Miranda has a playlist for you

Lin-Manuel Miranda, shown performing a song from "Hamilton" at the Tony Awards, has created a playlist to break through writer's block.
(Evan Agostini / Invision)

If you’re afflicted with writer’s block, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t want you throwing away your shot — and he’s made a Spotify playlist to help you put pen to paper.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright revealed his literary-themed playlist, titled “Write Your Way Out,” on Spotify with a tweet:


The 75-minute playlist kicks off with an unexpected track, “Happy Birthday Darling,” from the musical “Bright Lights, Big City,” based on Jay McInerney’s 1984 novel. “When you write, my son, make the choice / Find your voice, look down deep in your heart,” urges the singer. “Paint word pictures if you can / Paint the portrait of the artist as a young man.”

Miranda’s playlist contains an eclectic array of songs, including from top-charting artists such as Nas, Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple, as well as theatrical stars. Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” mentions the pain of writer’s block: “Blank stares at blank pages / No easy way to say this / You mean well, but you make this hard on me.”

Some of the songs work on more than one literary level. Miranda includes Eminem’s “Rabbit Run,” which shares its title with one of John Updike’s most famous novels. But the lyrics also address the difficulty of writing, with lines like “But sometimes I don’t always find the words to rhyme / To express how I’m really feeling at that time ... Stuck in this slump, can’t think of nothin’/ ... I’m stumped, oh, wait, here comes somethin’.”

At least one of the songs is a shout-out to a well-regarded novelist. The playlist includes “Song for Myla Goldberg,” by Portland indie rock band the Decemberists, a tune about the author of the novels “Bee Season” and “Wickett’s Remedy.”

While Miranda clearly wants to get his listeners’ creative juices flowing, he hasn’t forgotten about the importance of grammar and sentence structure. The list includes Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma,” which references the controversial punctuation mark (which is banned in this newspaper and many others).

And then there’s “Word Crimes,” “Weird Al” Yankovic’s parody of Robin Thicke’s hit “Blurred Lines.” Yankovic’s song takes aim at people who make errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. (Not “grammar, spelling, and punctuation.” Sorry, Oxford comma lovers.)


“Syntax you’re always mangling / No “x” in “espresso” / Your participle’s dangling,” Yankovic sings. “You finished second grade, I hope you can tell / If you’re doing good or doing well.”

The playlist finishes on a significantly less snarky note, with the song “Why” from the 2001 musical “Tick, Tick... Boom!” Performed by “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” actor Raúl Esparza, the song explores a man’s dedication to the creative life.

“Nine a.m., I write a lyric or two / Mike sings a song now on Mad Avenue,” Esparza sings. “I think, hey, what a way to spend a day / I make a vow / Right here and now / I’m gonna spend my time this way.”