What Do Ukuleles Have To Do With Writing?

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So this happened a few days ago.

It wasn’t an impulsive buy. I’ve had my eye on the store’s stock for a few months, waiting for the quality and price to be at my liking.

And now I own a ukulele.

Why did I buy a ukulele when I should be writing?

Right now, I’m in Waiting Purgatory. I’ve sent out my full-length play manuscript to a variety of play readings and production calls. I’ve emailed my resume to dozens of employers looking for a writing and content marketing expert. And now I sit at the edge of the black hole, anticipating any sign of rejection or acceptance to come spitting out of its dark mouth.

In other words, I wanted to progress at something while the writing world was debating whether or not to get back to me.

I brought my ukulele home, unzipped its case, and held it in my hands. Then I realized: I don’t know any chords.

I asked the Internet. And this is what it said:

ukulele chords and guitar chords for beginners
Credit: takelessons.com

I don’t speak ukulelese—but YouTube does. One video patiently went over four chords with me: C, A minor, F and G7.

C was a breeze. A minor—I still got this. F—why are my fingers so fat? Then G7—hand cramp!


It was like my instructor was Phoebe Buffay.

Friends Phoebe Buffay guitar bear claw, turkey leg and old lady
Credit: buzzfeed.com

I was Frustration City. My fingers kept holding down two strings instead of one. My hands were clumsy at contorting. My muscles in my fingers were downright weak.

I haven’t felt this incompetent since my first run around the sub after a stuffing-and-mashed-potatoes dinner almost fifteen years ago.

Why am I doing this? I can feel vulnerable and awkward just fine with my writing. Why am I bringing in yet another challenge into my life that questions my self-esteem?

I fought through the agony and self-doubt. Instead of throwing my new instrument, I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply and tried again.

A few days later, F and G7 are still a challenge. But they’re not a hot mess like on Day One.

And when I play those notes, I feel relaxed. I think about what I want: Producing my play, meeting new writers at a café, digging my toes into the sand as I write my next epic by rolling waves.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to take a step back and reflect. I get caught up in the hustle and bustle of action that I don’t schedule time to sit and collect my thoughts. How can I know what tickles my heartstrings if I don’t take the time to ponder?

That’s why I bought a ukulele.

What allows you to take a step back and reflect? Share your secret below.


  1. That’s nice, picking up the uke! I picked up the guitar when I was 14 and even now at 21 I can say that I haven’t progressed as much as I would have liked. I used to have the motivation to become very good but now I’m just content to maintain my current standard. I think that now the guitar is just being used to tide over the time where I take my writing break, just like how the uke is doing for you now. I wouldn’t say I’m that good of a writer but I put in effort to become the writer I am now. And playing the guitar is now just an outlet to show myself that I can do something other than writing. I wouldn’t want to be at a loss when I’m not writing, so I fill my spare time with things that 21 year olds usually do. And that’s when I get new ideas for the next piece of work.

    I think you’ll like the uke a lot. I’ve tried it a couple of times but by then I had already been playing guitar for five years already so I didn’t get a feel for it as it was much smaller. I will admit that it’s interesting though and you should be having fun with it while you await your results 🙂

    1. I did the reverse of what you did! I tried learning how to play the guitar years ago, but I found that I needed to build up the strength in my hand muscles, so the idea of learning the uke came to me. I’m glad that other writers like yourself have a uke/guitar connection. I’ll be learning slowly but steadily, but isn’t that how many creative pursuits go?

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

  2. You are awesome, Kaitlyn! I’m actually considering taking up the mandolin! Crazy, right?! As if we don’t have enough on our plates already 😀

    When my life is rough and tumble and mostly out of my control…which is mostly…I love to have something new to master. Currently, it’s blogging! I can’t say that I’ve mastered it yet, but I’m improving. Blogging, for me, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I write the post, publish the post, engage. I’m watching my stats improve and that’s what I need, some measure of improvement when much of life is rather muddy and often stuck.

    Speaking of, Dave and I are still working on getting our business up and running. Your name is still on our list of contacts. One way or another, I’ll be in touch with you about our social media needs and if we can find a good fit with each other. In the mean time, I’m rooting for you and your every success!

    1. Look how many writers are musically inclined! I just watched how the mandolin is played and that too is quite the challenge. I look forward to a blog post where you take on that instrument.

      Blogging is a learning experience. I’ve blogged for over two years now and I’m still learning. At least it keeps us writers on our toes!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

  3. “Why did I buy a ukulele when I should be writing?”
    For a relief.

    After much thought, I catapulted myself to a music store to adopt a ukulele. I am a computer graphic artist, but I need a break from it. For my art, I have amassed a stack of self-doubt, second guessing, and inner critics. The ukulele allows me to be a beginner again without any pressure. I am also reclaiming my inner musician; I played basic folk guitar as a child, many years ago. This was robbed from me by life circumstances.

    Art, music, writing, performing, acting, dance, etc. are all intertwined. Perhaps the roots shoot off, and a new branch of art needs to spring out of the ground.

    BTW, Ukelele Underground developed a wide-neck uke if you find a regular uke is too small. (Mine is a Concert size and it suits me.)

    Happy playing!

    1. I’m pleased that a fellow artist understands my need to “branch” out! I think I needed to tap into another vein of creativity, even as a beginner, so that I could further refine the writing craft that I hold so dear. Your insight is spot on.

      I’ll definitely check out Ukulele Underground. I may need the switch if I’m still struggling in a few months.

      And thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

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