A Happy Melody: Writing to Music

In order to write, I have to have a few things at my disposal. Paper. Pen. Laptop. Water and sunflower seeds for fuel. Sunshine or Stormy Weather to create impromptu inspiration. Quiet Time. And music. Especially music. 

Yes. For me, when I write, music is essential.

Without these, well, I cannot seem to find the inspiration or the motivation to write. They, to me, are essential parts of creating a beautifully written masterpiece--with an occasional dash of mild to spicy hot flavoring for good measure. (It doesn't hurt for a writer to add a little kick of spiciness to everything he/she does!)

Today, I wanted to touch on the subject of music and how it is a huge part of our writing. If you are a writer, you might already do this: create soundtracks for the books that you're writing. 

Oddly enough, it does wonders when one is writing in a terrible mood, it's dreary outside, or just not feeling it. 

The music helps to motivate and inspire the author to reach for the goal that stands off in the horizon. It also makes for great background music, plus is gets those ideas moving. Sometimes too fast! It helps the mood, and with the themes and specific scenes that are being created. It enhances them!

Music is literally at your fingertips and is always, in some form or other, partnered with creative work. Some play music while they paint, create websites, and, like them, you probably play music while you are writing a masterpiece of your own. 

I, for one, use music as a background to help me set the mood for what I am about to write. However, music, especially your favorite song, can, believe it or not, help make your writing better. Sound crazy? Well, how about we take a little adventure into the world of music and writing, and explore how music can help you improve your own writing.
  • Find a Starting Song—Like a certain smell or sound brings us back to a memorable moment in time, so does music. It reinforces those memories that ignite the desire to write and enhances the writing process considerably.

    When I begin to write, I always have to play my ‘song’. It’s a song that gets me in the zone. I call it my ‘Starting Song’. It helps me reenter the writing world without it seeming as if I’ve skipped a beat or was absent for a day or two. It refreshes my mind and enables me to start with—and keep— a creative and positive footing.

    You can choose any song that makes you feel energized, inspired or excited. Consider Kerri Robert's ‘No Matter What’, or Chris August’s 'Starry Night’. If you prefer not to hear lyrics, try a soundtrack from one of your favorite movies, or some classical music like: Beethoven's uplifting ‘Symphony No. 6’ or Leonard Bernstein's exquisite ‘I. Andante moderato'. But whatever song you choose, make sure that song gets those creative juices flowing and continually inspires your creativity. Let the song transport you to that magical time and place that you created.

    As soon as you have chosen your Starting Song, always keep it nearby. Have it in your ITunes or Media Player, or have the CD sitting on top of your keyboard. Every time you sit down to write, play the Starting Song with the plan that you will write for the duration of the entire song.

    Even if you decide you will only write for those
    few minutes, you'll be surprised: A body in motion tends to remain in motion. Trick yourself into writing past your blocks with the thought that you're only going to write while your Starting Song is playing. You will often find that once you begin writing, your hand will continue almost on its own.  

    If you play your Starting Song every time you sit down to write, your writing practice will become anchored to the song. Just hearing the song will make you feel the urge to grab your keyboard and start typing.

  • Create a SoundtrackYou're all set to watch a movie. Your favorite movie, ever! On the table in front of you, there is a jumbo bowl of extra butter popcorn calling your name. 
A tall glass of soda waits to quench your thirst after gobbling down handfuls of the delirious popcorn, (or to clear your throat if you happen to be chocking). 

Strands of cherry licorice sticks look more like tree trunks from some fairy land than red strips of candy. They stand tall-and a little droopy-as they wait impatiently for teeth to sink into their goodness. 

M&M's-those irresistible bites-sized candies filled with sinful chocolate-beckon you to the dark side. 

A box of tissues stands at the ready to comfort and dry your tears. 

And a large pillow-if needed-is ready to defend your honor if you happen to be spooked during a horror film.

While munching on your feast of less-than-healthy movie treats, have you ever stopped chewing long enough to listen to the music playing in the movie?  Believe it or not, the songs played in movies actually give the story (the whole movie or a specific scene) depth and dimension. 

You see, a song, or a collection of songs, help provide emotional intensity to the story. (Think of it like a song that serves to enhance the mood. Much like the songs we play when we're sad, angry, happy, or mellow.)

And so, when you are looking for your writing to have an emotional impact, set it to song. This might sound strange and stupid, but if you are striving to attain a specific vibe in your narrative, you can usually attain that balance in your writing by listing to music, and writing in conjunction with the passion of the song.

Immerse yourself in the world you create by listening to your soundtrack while you are conducting tasks around the house, at the gym, or in the car. As you listen to those songs, your mind will automatically transport you into your story. (Listening to your soundtrack will have you constantly thinking and creating new ideas. You'll never lose connection with your story!) 

So, are you going to take time to listen to the music in the movie next time? Don't start munching just yet, but instead, think about your favorite movie songs. When you hear them, can you see the scene in your mind? Can you see it? 

Now just think what music will do when you let it inspire your writing! You know, the movies we all watch started off as words on a paper, just like our novels, poems, books, etc. Your writing can have the same impact. Set it to music!
  • Writing to a specific time periodLets say that your novel takes place entirely in the year 1930. You might want to buy a couple of CDs with music made that year. Now-a-days, it's fairly easy to learn which songs were played in a given year. A period novel taking place in America in 1850 will have you playing The Penguins' 'Earth Angel'. And when chronicling the 1980s disco scene, the dramatic Madonna should fill your writing studio. Playing these songs will help you to connect you directly to your characters and the story plot-these are most likely the songs your characters would have been listening to. It will also allows you to feel the ambiance of that period in history.

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