Blessed be! This week, my wife and I went to see Moana at the theater. This was a good thing because it’s a brilliant movie and we enjoyed our night out. It’s a great thing because the music fed my creative side and got me excited to work on my story summore. Now, it’s a bad thing because it fed the wrong story. A number of the songs and themes put me more in the mind of my vampire history than my fantasy romance. Whoops.

So! While I fend off the termites trying to get me to cheat on my current project, here are my thoughts on listening to music while you work on your story.

  1. Set a mood. I write a lot about emotional resonance on the page. You want your reader, ideally, to feel the same way your protagonist feels or otherwise to have a visceral response to your work. The best way to do that is to make sure as you work that you’re feeling it, yourself. For me, the surest way to elicit emotion is to put on music. Something light and humorous, something sad, something dark or complicated or unresolved.
  2. Establish setting. I also find that music serves to transport my mind. Whether I’m working on my fantasy novel or my historical, listening to music that reminds me of the setting heightens my attention to the other senses. That helps me more clearly communicate my vision of the surroundings to the reader.
  3. Heighten character. Sometimes I hear a song and it just screams a character’s name at me. It evokes their voice or their motivations or struggles in my mind. Playing it will instantly put me in their mindset.
  4. Ritual. Turning on the playlist for a story is an important part of my writing ritual. It becomes a cue to my subconscious that it’s now writing time. Even when I’m not particularly in the mood at the start, I find that I can buckle down and get some quality words out just by getting myself into the right frame of mind.
  5. Focus. The sound of the first few notes sinks me into the narrative and lets me block out distractions. I don’t hear the phone; I stop clicking around on Facebook and messenger. With the music as a buffer, I’m free to funnel all of my attention into the work.

2 thoughts on “Five Things: Music to Write By

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