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Thursday, November 05, 2015

 

Oh What A Post!

While trying to think up a writing idea for you, I decided to clean out my inbox (you never know what you’re going to find in an inbox, right?) and crank up Jersey Boys.

So I’m a big fan of the Four Seasons and before I made it through even a half-dozen emails, I was singing (loudly). Possibly chair-dancing. And I didn’t have even a teensy germ of an idea for you. But as big girls don’t cry, I figured I’d just have to turn off the music—and that’s when it hit me: writing and music.

I have a friend who always listens to music when writing. She puts on the headphones and jams out, generating two or three thousand words at a sitting. Me? I can’t write ten words with music playing. If it’s music with words, I almost always start singing along (whether I know the words or not). And if I hear something that I recognize but never really paid much attention to back in the day, I still stop and listen. Because I’m amazed at what I’m hearing. I’ll invariably think, “Gee. I had no idea that song was about that.” It’s a no-win, no-write situation.

Maybe, I could listen to an instrumental and accomplish something; honestly, I’m not sure. But I can see how an instrumental could help set a tone while writing.

The friend I mentioned? She listened to "Tubular Bells" from The Exorcist while working on an edgy young adult manuscript. She said it was the perfect music to get her in the right (or wrong, as the case may be) frame of mind for the story. And that makes sense to me. I mean, if everything’s lollipops and butterflies in one’s personal life, it might be difficult to channel angst and destruction on the page. There’s nothing like a good, creepy song to get the creative, murderous vibe flowing.

Conversely, as a writer who primarily writes the funny, I don’t always feel the funny. Sometimes, I need to do something to take me away from my real world so that I can make others laugh. I might watch funny videos and yep, I might even listen to music (I recommend Julie Andrews, by the way).

How about you? I’m curious, especially during this National Novel Writing Month, how many of us writers need music (or any background noise) for the process. I’d love to understand how and why it works because I listened to Jersey Boys while (sort of) writing up this post. And as much as I love you, baby, I just can’t write to music.

~Cathy C. Hall

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9 Comments:

Blogger Smrithi Murthy said...

Instrumental works sometimes for me, when my mind's wandering too much, and I want it to focus. Agree about setting the tone too. But when am in the throes of an idea, don't want to hear anything (won't be able to, actually!)

5:29 AM  
Blogger Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I struggle to write with music on, although I've never really tried it with just instrumental stuff. I usually need quiet to write. White noise is okay - traffic, wind, etc - but quiet is best.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Robyn Chausse said...

I generally like it quiet, but if I am having trouble focusing I'll put on either classical instrumental or a Beta wave subliminal instrumental such as Brainwave Symphony: Energize & Focus at low volume as background music. They say that classical forms of music stimulate neuron centers that aren't stimulated by popular music. I can see where the popular songs would work, though, to lead a writer into the right mood for a piece.
To get a little woo-woo for a moment--if you think of energy, sound-waves can change the "vibe" of an area. Think of the serenity of a monastery and the chants that are sung. All the candles in the world would not create that sense of peace if the monks were playing acid rock. In that way, I doubt I could write a murder scene with "Over the Rainbow" playing in the background.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Donna Volkenannt said...

I like the sounds of silence when I write--not the Simon and Garfunkel version, but actual silence.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Sioux said...

I can write to low-volume, instrumental music. Soft jazz. Folk music with guitar and not too much fiddle or banjo.

If there's lyrics, my mind digresses.

4:15 PM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

So most of us here prefer quiet, it seems.

I just remembered something funny, though. When I was in college, I always had the radio tuned to rock when I had math problems to work. Different parts of the brain? Or maybe the music made the math more palatable. :-)

Thanks for weighing in, y'all!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

I love writing to music! If i'm working on a manuscript, I'll put together a playlist of songs that I listen to on repeat to set the mood. I'll have artists like Death Cab for Cutie, Greg Laswell, Andrew Belle, Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michelson, etc. When I wrote my last YA novel last NaNoWriMo, Taylor Swift's 1989 album had just come out and listened to the ballads on that a lot during the mushy romantic scenes, trying to get into the mindset of a lovesick teenager :-)

6:48 PM  
Blogger Suzanne Pitner said...

I don't often write with music, but when I'moved deep into a novel, writing the thickest plot points, I do. In one of my gold rush novels, the protagonist has a classical piece he'said always tapping with his fingers. I listened to that music while I wrote all of his scenes.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Suzanne Pitner said...

I don't often write with music, but when I'moved deep into a novel, writing the thickest plot points, I do. In one of my gold rush novels, the protagonist has a classical piece he'said always tapping with his fingers. I listened to that music while I wrote all of his scenes.

4:22 PM  

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