What Earworms and Writing have in Common

According to Wikipedia, an Earworm is a piece of music that sticks in one’s mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it is not being played.

Who hasn’t had a bad case of earworms?  You know the songs ‘Henery the 8th’, ‘Call Me Maybe’, ‘I Would Do Anything for Love (but I won’t do that)’, and ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ are just a few of the songs that can drive us up to and over the edge of sanity.  Squidoo.com has a list of the top ten earworms, just in case these haven’t caught on.

In the article ‘The Science of Earworms: What makes a song get stuck in your head‘, Luke Lewis gives us 6 points regarding the anatomy of an earworm:

  1. Musical Exposure 
  2. Current Environment
  3. Stress
  4. Involuntary Memory
  5. Evolution
  6. Melody=thought

You might ask why I’m making such a kerfuffle over earworms?  Earworms and writing have several things in common. Each of these points can be correlated to writing.

  1. Exposure – Instead of listening to melodies, an author needs to be starting conversations with their writing.  I’ve read many a book that I’ve loved and/or hated based on conversations I’ve had or interviews I listened to.   Most of those books or stories wouldn’t have even been a blip on my radar without those conversations.
  2. Current Environment – Relavancy – what a word.  Just like songs, there are stories and novels that dive into the politics and social mores of any given generation.  The writing evokes emotions that can cause celebrations and mourning.  Yet, to generations prior or after, they mean nothing.
  3. Stress – I tend to remember novels and stories I’ve read during times of stress.  The strong emotional ties stay with me as a reminder of the challenging time I’ve experienced.
  4. Involuntary Memory – Much like music embedding itself into the hard drives of our minds, strong emotional memories associated with stories that have impacted us will trigger snippets of stories, memorable characters, and settings to spring into our minds.  Sometimes the trigger will be obvious, other times not so much.
  5. Evolution – Mankind has told stories and sang songs since the beginning.  It was a way to memorialize our history and honor those around us.  Writing that impacts us carries on that tradition.
  6. Story = thought  – A story is a mere heartbeat of life. It is a vignette, a moment. Strong storytelling will pull us into those moments and immerse us.  The telling and writing of stories have prevented and caused wars. They have taught cautionary tales to generations. Stories have recorded injustices.  Words have power, it’s all how they are used.

In the end I just want to tell my stories. I want people to read and discuss.  Will I create quoted works that will influence generations?  I have no idea. Much like an earworm, we never know how our writing will influence others.

Now, I have some earworms that  I need to share with my co-workers.  I think I’ll be starting with Meatloaf and move on from there. Bwhahahaha!



  • Meatloaf, I would do anything for love but I won’t do that! Good start 😀 lol

    • I have to blame the new M&M candy advertisement for my earworm focus. I can’t get it out of my head. 🙂

  • This is an interesting post. Like most, I’ve been subject to this or that earworm for decades. One of the upsides of the internet is a cure for what bugs you is most likely just a quick search away.

    Prior to the bits and bytes, your best option, if lucky, was to hope said worm lay hiding in some vinyl of a poorly cataloged album collection and if you were lucky to locate the proper disk you prayed for the record to spin.

    “Much like an earworm, we never know how our writing will influence others.”


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