Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Music to Move Worlds

Have you ever been driving down the road, listening to the radio, and that song comes on? You know, the one that drains all the tension from your body and puts a smile on your face. You crank up the volume, to share with the cars around you, because that song is so awesome, and you know everyone else will love it as much as you do. And for a few minutes at least, you can relax and enjoy the concert of one, starring you, of course. :)

Maybe that song triggers a memory. Whenever I hear Don’t Know What You Got (Till it’s Gone) by Cinderella, I’m transported back to my junior high dances, and I sigh and think, ‘I love this song’. Or maybe that song sets your mind free and you can think deeper and more freely than you normally would. Whatever the result, you feel a physical change from that song.

Music has played a huge role in my life. I grew up watching musicals, and I’ve probably seen or listened to Annie and The Sound of Music at least 100 times each. My mother was always singing or whistling, which is something I picked up on. Though, my kids usually just look bewildered and stare at me like I’m crazy when something they say activates that part of my brain, and I belt out some show tune tidbit.

Now, please don’t think I’m saying I could ever sing on Broadway or anywhere public. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly bad, but that doesn’t mean I’m good either. I’m in that middle ground. Somewhere between the contestants on American Idol that are so incredibly awesome you’re too stunned to speak, and the ones that are so terrible, you can’t help wondering why no one loved them enough to tell they were awful before they humiliated themselves on national television. Sometimes, that show is just so sad.

With the influence music has had on my life, it’s only natural it would play a role in my writing as well. I’ve found that when I’m stuck on a particular point, if I turn on certain songs, it all starts to flow again. Granted, it doesn’t work every single time, but it works most of the time.

Though I have very broad tastes in music, ranging from Bach and Mozart to Pink Floyd and Metallica, my favorite thing to listen to while I’m writing is Evanescence, especially the Open Door album. I don’t know what it is, but it gets me in that groove, and it just feels like my story. There’s no other way to describe it. Even when I’m listening to it in the car, I can’t help thinking about what’s happening next, and how I’m going to work that scene.

So, I want to know. Does music influence your writing? Do the words flow better with something humming in the background or do you need complete silence? And what’s in your playlist?


  1. I am probably the only person in the world to do this, but I listen to the Soundscapes channel on my digital cable. It's like New Age-y pan flutes and Enya and mostly instrumental, so it makes it easy for me to block out distractions.

    Songs that I have sentimental attachments to are just another distraction while I'm writing, though I understand how inspirational music is to other writers.

    Occasionally, I'll search out music for research, but I don't listen while I'm writing.

    Although sometimes I whistle while I work. ;)

    (also a closet musical fan, Little Shop of Horrors being one of my favorites, and if you haven't seen Once, I highly recommend it)

  2. I love music (sometimes), but music and writing don't mix for me. But music does carry memories for me. It's strange how a certain song will bring to mind things long forgotten. And not just the memory, but the feelings of the memory as well. :D

  3. I almost always listen to music when I write. I go from song to song and play them to death. Right now I've got Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, Adam Lambert, Blind Melon, Cake, Neo, and a few other in my playlist. I try to keep it to about 30 minutes so I can cycle through them over and over and over...

  4. I love Evanescene - and, though I can't listen to music while writing, they do get me in the grove post writing.

    And, I can relate to the show tunes -- I grew up with Fiddler on the Roof, Jazz Singer, Annie...all the time. Ah, good times...good times...

  5. Tere--I love Enya. I added Once to my Netflix queue. Looks like one my husband will enjoy being forced to watch with me. Heehee. :D

    Danyelle--I admit, there are times when I need absolute silence too. Especially when I'm revising.

    Elana--I do that too. Sometimes I'll just repeat the same song over and over and over, depending on my mood. My husband got me a nice set of wireless headphones, because for some reason my repetitive music choices weren't jiving with his Halo and Call of Duty Xbox experience. :)

    Tess--I forgot about Fiddler on the Roof and the Jazz Singer--my mom loved that one. We used to replay America over and over, so we could sing along with it, cause we were soooo cool. Yeah, good times. :D

  6. I have to say no.. when I clean music must be up to the highest level possible

    If IU'm on the old geezer laptop.. I must have total quiet ..sad huh?

  7. Each character has "theme" music that I play when I am creating their stories. I NEED it. And then, when the book is done and I hear their music on the radio, I miss them! Crazy.

  8. Tami--I too must have loud music to clean. It's just too boring otherwise.

    Suzanne--It's not crazy. I'm sure I'll do that with my current WIP. I tried to hold off on the sequel, but I missed my characters too much. :)

  9. I have a love affair with music. I always thought it would complement my writing, but I find it a distraction instead.

    BTW, my mom used to walk around the house singing or whistling too. I've become "that" mom as well (proud of it).
    ~ Wendy

  10. Music and writing are interlocked, for me. Music inspires me to write, and writing inspires me to listen to certain songs. I love that relationship. :)