Monday, July 22, 2013

Music, mood, and getting words on the page

All too often, I find myself staring at the proverbial blank page. The words won't flow, and when I push, they're stilted. Every author has their own technique for setting the writing scene and putting themselves in the right frame of mind. Yes, writing is a business so you need to just sit down and write (thank you, La Nora), but at the same time, writing crappy words doesn't help if there's an easy fix.

Through trial and error, I've figured out my magical solution: music. I used to make playlists for my WIP (work in progress); once, I even assembled a different playlist for each act. In hindsight, this was a great way to be "productive" for an hour without having to write.

I still love having my music fit the mood of the scene I'm writing, which is why I was giddy with happiness when a friend introduced me to 8tracks.com. This web-based streaming music service has endless playlists assembled by its members and--here's the important part--tagged with moods and musical styles. So if I'm writing a hot and heavy club scene, I'll search for "dubstep" and "sex" and "dirty", for example, and a series of matching playlists will pop up. You can see how many times the playlist has been favorited and listened to, which is a good gauge of quality.

The only downside is that you can't skip through too many songs in a playlist. Given that the service is free, and you can switch to another playlist at any time, I don't consider this much of a drawback. Once you sign up for a free account, you can favorite playlists and create meta-playlists (collections of playlists you want to keep organized).

When I find the right playlist, my word count can go from agonizing to flying. I'm continually amazed by the impact of music on my writing mood, and the depth of emotion in my scenes.

Do you listen to music when you write? How do you choose your playlist? 

Here's one of my favorite playlists for writing erotic romance:

 

4 comments:

Meg Benjamin said...

Sadly, I can't listen to music when I write. I say sadly because I think it would be great to be able to match the music to what I'm doing. But I've got a one-track brain apparently--I can have anything else going on while I'm trying to think.

Kelly Jamieson said...

I don't often listen to music when I write, I find the lyrics distracting. But sometimes I do - like the dance club scene you mentioned Skylar - it helps me to listen to the kind of music the characters are hearing. Also if my characters are listening to music, eg while having sex, I want to listen to the songs they're hearing - to set the mood and the rhythm of the scene.

Thanks for that GREAT playlist, I love it!!

PG Forte said...

I used to listen to music all the time while I wrote. It really upped my productivity. For me, it helped to keep me in the same mood for protracted scenes or really long books. I frequently gave my couples (or individual characters, at times) a particular theme song that I would listen to for all their scenes together.

Lately, I've had a much harder time matching the right music to the scene or character or even book. And writing has been much harder, slower and more difficult. Cause and effect? Or random coincidence? Damned if I know. :(

Sydney Somers said...

Music is a must for me. I don't always need it to write, but I need to at least listen to it for a while BEFORE I right. It gets me in the right frame of mind. I try not to need to have the music fit the scene, but now and then one will resonate and I'll replay it a few times while I'm finishing the scene.