Write Like a Musician

Breakout Session


We tend to think of practicing piano as physical and writing as mental, but musicians and writers share many of the same narrative challenges and creative work requirements. The life experiences we write about are like a composer's musical score—it's the writer/musician’s job to interpret and deliver the material. Informed by personal experience as a classical pianist, this session applies lessons from music practice to the work of writing creative nonfiction. We’ll focus on seven aspects of music practice that can be applied to writing, including warming up, knowing our “arrival points,” and treating our bodies like our instruments.

Key takeaways from this session:

  • Apply the process of musical interpretation to the telling of your own story
  • Recognize the “arrival points” in your writing and learn how to make them sing
  • Respect the power of the warm-up

View Slides [PDF]

View Handout [PDF]



  • Lillie Gardner

    Lillie Gardner is a writer and piano instructor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her creative nonfiction and fiction have been published in the Delmarva Review, Long River Review, Slag Review, and more. She’s an essays reader for Hippocampus Magazine and a book reviewer for EcoLit Books. Lillie studied music and writing...