What Do Ukuleles Have To Do With Writing?

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.