I know some people can’t listen to music while they write. If that’s the case for you, then I fear there’s nothing for you here today. Sorry! As for the rest of you, settle in. We’re going to talk about tunes.
Sometimes you’re not feeling it, right? But you need to write, otherwise you’ll get out of practice. You’ll lose the momentum you’ve been building. I’ve found a great way to set the mood is to find music that transports you. There are classical pieces by Chopin that when I close my eyes, listening to them, I can see the couples twirling, the men in their black formalwear and the women in ornate gowns. I couldn’t write an action scene, listening to Chopin.
This may seem like pretty basic advice, but I’ve discovered how powerful music can be all over, writing this new YA project. I’m doing it for my daughter, but it has taught me a great deal. I spent an afternoon putting together a playlist for the hero, who’s a musician, and his choices speak volumes on what kind of person he is, his current state of mind, and how he’s dealing with adversity. Furthermore, when I listen to those songs — his music– I get to know him even better.
Music, when it’s properly played, should make us ache. It should move us, make us angry, or make us think. And that’s what we want our books to do as well. Auditory and olfactory memories are powerful things, you know? If you smell a pumpkin pie baking, maybe it takes you back to grandma’s house. And if you hear Born in the USA, you remember a hot summer night, getting up to no good in the back of somebody’s car. (For me, it’s not Springsteen, but John Mellencamp, though he was John Cougar back then. Hey, I grew up in Indiana! And the song is Jack & Diane.)
I’ve actually found that listening to music can help me get past something that’s bothering me in the book. Sometimes, songs tell a story. So if you listen, they can help you with yours. I’ll start searching for songs with symbolism similar to what I’m working with, and occasionally, just listening to them pushes me to some epiphany, then once I identify the problem, I can keep writing.
There’s a song for every book, a melody for each mood. For example, Bodies by Drowning Pool gets played pretty much everytime I write an action scene. (Along with others).
What are some of your favorite bands / songs, and what moods do they set of you?