I’ve always been a huge music fan. Growing up I pretty much killed every Walkman I had from listening to music all the time. Killed many pairs of headphones, too. At least MP3 players and headphones are way more durable and streaming music is awesome. As a kid I’ve learned to play an instrument or three only to discover as an adult that I was a mediocre musician on a good day. Best to stick to listening to music and singing along when I’m in the car.
So where am I going with this ode to music and how important it is in my life? How does this connect to a blog about being a writer? Well, it may be surprising to many people that it is not unusual for writers to create a playlist when they write. Music, at times, can express emotions better than the written word. The emotion a singer or instrumentalist puts into the words and melody touches a different part of the soul. On a personal level, music can helps me concentrate, it can soothe, it can inspire, or it can energize me.
Listening to music while writing makes sense to me because by engaging with another art form while creating your own art, I think it helps amp up the creative part of the brain. It opens up the dam of creative thought allowing words to flow like water.
Over the past year I’ve been experimenting with varying up the music I listen to while I write. Originally I could only write while listening to classical music. The main reason is because there are no lyrics, so I’m not tempted to sing along. After a while, though, I can only listen to so much classical music. In talking with other writers and listening to other writers’ processes, I heard many will tailor music to the project they’re working on. Made sense to me so I thought I would try that.
While working on a short story set in the future space, I created a playlist full of songs what sounded spacey and futuristic. It took me a little while to get used to but it seemed to really help put me in the right frame of mind. It was easier to ‘see’ into the future with the appropriate soundtrack. Probably would have been harder to do if I’d been listening to Beethoven unless the story was about Beethoven in space. Wait that could be an interesting experiment…
In addition to getting me in the right frame of mind, it was fun getting exposed to artists I would normally not listen to. I’m not the biggest fan of techno or dub step but if any music aims for the futuristic sound, it would be those genres. I also included artists I do like so that I’d have some sanity.
With that experiment a success I started working on creating playlists for when I write romantic scenes, battle scenes, and because I’m currently working on a novel set during the Middle Ages, medieval music (although there is only so much of that music I can take wanting to shove a lute up someone’s butt). It’s fun to compile these lists and the online streaming music service I use makes it super easy since they have so many categories to choose from.
In the future I look forward to experimenting more with my playlists and revising the current ones. Connecting music with words is just another road to inspiration for me.