I know my lease is up and the bailiff’s at the door
And still I’m hanging on to the life we had before
I listen to white noise or instrumental music when I write because I usually find silence and music lyrics distracting. But there are times when a song’s lyrics allow me to discover things about my story I’d previously been unable to see.
At a recent writing retreat, I vowed to shake things up and break through the writer’s block I’d been experiencing with my WIP. Part of that shakeup involved excessive snacking. Surprisingly (or not), competitive snacking didn’t trigger the breakthrough. Listening to music—specifically, Jacob Banks’s “Chainsmoking” on repeat—did.
Banks’s gritty, guttural sound and spot-on lyrics so clearly captured the dynamic of my protagonist’s volatile relationship with her ex, their story began unfolding before my ears. A few hours later, I had written over 6,000 words. Many of those words are backstory that will never make it to the page, but that backstory will be the thread that runs through my characters’ emotional arcs.
That breakthrough led me to create multiple soundtracks for my WIP. I’ve created writing soundtracks before, but they’d been general “writing motivation” playlists, or I’d created them after my story was complete. This time I used the soundtracks as tools to break my writer’s block. In the process, I discovered new layers to my story. Even if you’re a diehard “silence writer” creating soundtracks might help if you’re experiencing writer’s block.
Soundtrack Your Scenes and Chapters
Characters aren’t the only things that should convey emotions; scenes and chapters should, too. When selecting a song(s) for your chapter soundtrack, think about the many words we use to describe music; soaring, thumping, uplifting, exhilarating, soulful, mournful, and sensual, to name a few. Emotionally, where does your scene start, and where does it end? Is there a song or lyric that perfectly describes your chapter’s mood? When you find that song, submerge yourself in the atmosphere it creates and allow the emotions to flow through to your writing. [Read more…]