Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wisdom on Wednesdays: Cue the Music!

I found myself in a bit of a situation the other evening.  I had an assignment due for my class the next day, and I just wasn't happy with what I'd written.  It was riddled with cliches, there were huge paragraphs of exposition, and most importantly, my main character was really flat and generic.  I had an idea of how I wanted to approach the rewrite, but I found myself just staring at the blank page, paralyzed.  I couldn't begin.  Sitting at my computer, faced with a fresh page, I still couldn't get past the words cluttering up the previous ones.

So, I tried something I've never tried before.  I usually prefer to write in silence, so I don't get distracted by conversations or lyrics.  But this time, I thought for a while about my MC, and about the theme of my book, and I decided to try listening to a song that kind of touched on that idea.

It worked.  The words started flowing, and I finished with something that, if not perfect, was definitely a solid draft - a huge improvement over the version I had started with.

I had to stop the music after a while because it did get distracting eventually, but it got me started.  So next time you hit a wall, try putting in some music that would fit in the world of your book, and see if it's enough to get you over that hump and into the next thousand words.

Have you tried writing with music?  Did it help or hinder you?


  1. I've tried writing with music; when I'm stuck, or I just need to get back into the mood of what I'm writing, I usually play classical music. It usually works. :)

  2. Like you it depends, normally i dont listen to music when i write i just get to much of an urge to get up and dance about, but if i want a particular mood when i create a character i will listen to songs first to put me in that mood.

  3. I love making soundtracks for my WiP whenever I need a reminder of the mood I'm striving for. It can be so very helpful! Congrats on the successful rewrite!

  4. I don't usually write to music, but I DO play music before I write. I'll sometimes play it very quietly while I'm writing. But music definitely gets me in the frame of mind to write. If especially do this if I need to write a particularly intense scene. It also depends on the WIP. For one WIP in particular I need to tap into some intense emotions and the music really helps me do that.

    I do edit to music though :D

  5. Golden Eagle: classical music! I listened to that a lot during my college days, and it put me in the right frame of mind to get work done, so there must be something to that.

    Serena, yes, I think we're on the same wavelength. Great minds!

    Meredith, I never considered making a soundtrack because I thought it would be too time consuming, but after this experiment over the weekend, I might change my mind and give it a try.

    Michelle - yes! I don't need music for my PBs, but for this WIP, which has intense moments, I found I need it to put myself in the right frame of mind.

    What a pleasant surprise to find so many others who work the same way I do!

  6. prose are better written quietly for me, but if I'm doing poetry a song always helps. I make sound tracks for my books. I say listen to this music while you are reading this section. just like a movie.

  7. I've seen a couple of authors do that with soundtracks - like an "extra"!

  8. I do this all the time. I'll listen to music that reminds me of a character or a scene and it helps me write. There's one chapter in the book I wrote last year that was inspired by the song "Lithium" by Evanescence. While I was writing the chapter, I listened to that song on repeat until I was done. Really helped to get in the mood.

  9. I've done it both ways. I wrote my entire first ms listening to music. Then, I wrote my second ms in silence. Both worked for me. The difference was the mood of the stories and the personalities of the characters, I think. :)

  10. Quinn: one song on repeat. Yup! :-) That was me on Sunday night. Thanks for stopping by!

    Margo, I've found the same thing. If I'm already in the mood, then quiet is good, but sometimes I need some music to set the tone. Thanks for commenting!