Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Soundtrack of Your Writing Life

I usually can’t listen to music while I write. I listen to it while I do dishes, daydream, and do other miscellaneous stuff that I don’t really have to think about... but I’ve never been one to listen to music while I’m writing because it usually ruins the flow of my words... maybe ruins is too strong a word, but it definitely messes with it. Oddly enough, during the writing of my current work in progress, I’m building a bit of a playlist

It’s an odd thing for me, because I normally don’t see my writing in scenes, like a movie, but that’s what’s happening here. There are these songs that fit into the character’s lives, the same way that songs fit into mine. I have one picked out that so wraps up the ending, Daughtry’s What about Now? Don’t ask me why. I mean, I love the song, but it came on the radio and I swear, in my head, I was seeing the ending credits... my characters, in this poignant vignette that takes them from beginning to end... well, it’s hard to explain without telling you my ending, now isn’t it?

I’m really excited about this part of the process with this novel. I have songs that bring me back to different times in my life. Red, Red, Wine will always be bottles of Boonsfarm with my friends at that weather beaten beam over the creek in the forest preserve. Blister in the Sun will always mean singing at the top of our lungs in my friends broken down, practically taped together car that he bought himself and we all called “The Beast”. The soundtrack to Cinema Paradiso will always make me think of my favorite person. I can’t help but think it’s a major breakthrough in my writing, that my characters are developing their own songs for moments in their lives.

Do you have songs that go with your writing? Do you have a playlist in your head, and does it change for the different writing you’re doing? Do the songs belong to you or your characters?

Just as a little side note – the links throughout are for a site called Singers Room. It is very cool and I would have included separate pages of the site but for some reason my computer is running really slow today and I couldn’t get everything to page up... not the site, it’s me. Anyway, they not only have music, but they have articles about various artist and they feature brand new, up and coming artists just starting out. So if you’re into music, feel free to check them out.


spyscribbler said...

I'm a bit like you were, in that I can't write while listening to music. I do have one of those white noise tracks that does a certain rhythm or pulse or something to help keep me at optimal attention. I'm not sure whether it really helps or not...

But sometimes, I do listen to music. I have one album I listen to when I really need to write fast. And then I've taken to listen to movie soundtracks sometimes. I have "Eastern Promise," "Gladiator," and "The Other Boleyn Girl."

Realmcovet said...

Oh yes INDEED I have songs for characters. I'm working on putting every song that my ears have had the pleasure of hearing on my present playlist. I'm currently obsessed with DeVotchka. Always been enamoured with Joy Division and I love love LOVE Arcade Fire. I like alot of heavy stuff too, (Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, Atreyu,...)fer story battles n whatnot, ya know??? :D

LOVE yer taste.

I can go either way as far as listening while writing goes. Sometimes it inspires, while other days it just distracts the hell outta me.

Like today. Today would be a good day to turn the volume DOWN.

Josephine Damian said...

I listened to Mozart to stimulate my brain while doing school stuff. Must have worked cause I just found out my thesis was approved! Yup, I'm officially now the Master of the Domain.

During my first novel, I listened to music my characters liked - to put me more into their heads before I wrote about them. Didn't listen while I actually wrote, but in between writing sessions when I was writing in my head.

BTW, liked your first paragraph in Nathan's contest.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Spy,

I don't know why I can write with it now, to be honest. Something about this novel, I guess. Usually, I could work with music with no lyrics on, but not anything with singing... art is different, if I'm drawing it's whatever moves me for that piece... sometimes classical, sometimes rock, just depends.

Hi Realmcovet,

See, my characters have never had their own music before... maybe they did and I wasn't paying attention... these characters are teenagers, so maybe it just fit in that way - music is such a part of teen years, universally.


Congratualations!!!! Yay, Josie, yay, josie!!!!

That's awesome - I'm very proud of you... and, you know, looking forward to your fiction now that you'll start having some time for it.

Thanks, too. I know how hard it is to get the Josie seal of approval on fiction. I just ran across Nathan's contest last night and copy pasted directly from my current wip. There are so many new faces there these days, it's fun to read through the entries.

Zoe Winters said...

I used to do playlists. It was a big nanowrimo thing on the years that I did it. I don't normally listen to music when I write, but when I do, it has to be instrumental, no lyrics. Lyrics throw me off because I'm playing with words already and I don't need more words cluttering up my headspace.

I like a group called "Apocalyptica" they do some alternative/kinda metal music that's all instrumental.

Mary Witzl said...

Um...The Circle Game, by Joni Mitchell. And part of 'Mutti' by Rammstein. Also a Chinese pop song that my kids play over and over and which I now sing under my breath wherever I go. I blame their eclectic music tastes and the fact that they cannot study (or do anything, seemingly) without music: bits of their weird songs have woven themselves right into the fabric of my stories.

Erica Orloff said...

LOL! I listen to the same group as Zoe. All . . . the . . . time.


I have thousands (!!!) of songs on my iPod. And while I don't do specific writing playlists for a specific wip, there are some things I gravitate toward when writing. If I just want background music, I listen to Corinne Bailey Rae. If I want to feel "moody" I listen to Apocalyptica. I also list to Beethoven's 9th a lot. If I am writing a scene with a lot of violence or action, I will put on some techno or Moby or club music. (I like Fatboy Slim.)

Zoe Winters said...

Really, Erica? That's awesome! hahahaha. See? Somewhere in there we are kindred spirits, just not on everything, haha!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Zoe,

Okay, now I'm going to have to find Apocolyptica and see what all the fuss is about :-)

Hi Mary,

Oy, my kids songs are in my head too, unfortunately, that means a lot of cartoon theme songs and parodies from Christmas carols.

Hi Erica,

I remember you talking about your shuffle selection before... funny how much music can become a part of your creative process...

Kathleen Peacock said...

When i was younger, I used to listen to bits of film scores when writing. The music would drown out distractions and there were no lyrics to distract me.

With my last book, I did start listening to music more - especially if I was having difficulty getting into a characters head. I ended up creating playlists for a number of my characters.

A quick check reveals that Bristol has a lot of Belle and Sebastian, Carly has a lot of Cass Elliot, and Ellery is heavy on the Prince and Scissor Sisters.

Travis Erwin said...

I nearly always listen to music when I write and didn't I once mail you a CD I'd made that is pretty close to the soundtrack of my life?