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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeling the Music by Priscilla Kissinger

Some people can't concentrate with noise in the background. They must have complete silence, or their thoughts are pulled away by distractions.

Not so for me. Perhaps it comes from finishing my undergraduate degree while studying on the floor in my kids' playroom. Barbies walking along my back, stuffed animals propped up next to me because my kids wanted mommy to "play" alongside of them. I learned very quickly to tune out the distractions. In fact many times I need "noise" in the background while I'm concentrating. ESPN gets lots of play time when I'm working around the house.

When I'm writing, total quiet is unnerving to me, and actually becomes a distraction. Here's where music comes in. For years I could only listen to instrumental music. Songs with lyrics pulled my concentration away from the words I was trying to write, and I often found myself singing along. Now, I'm better able to go with the "feel" of the music that's playing.

I've heard of authors who have a so-called soundtrack for each of their books. A group of songs that inspired them while they wrote. Others, like me, pop in a cd or crank up their ipod to music that brings out whatever emotion speaks of the emotion in the scene they are writing. Or whatever music brings forth the emotion I'm trying to tap into within myself.

My books lean more towards family drama. Most of the music I play while writing evokes deep, rich, romantic emotions within me. Sometimes I play the soundtrack of a movie that brought out the same feelings. My "A Walk in the Clouds" cd has been worth the $13 it cost. As has my "Dying Young" cd. The music from "Love Affair", the Annette Benning and Warren Beaty remake of "An Affair to Remember" is absolutely beautiful, though I've yet to find the cd. In recent years I also include all of my Il Divo cds and anything by Josh Groban as "must haves" in my cd library.

Ultimately, when choosing my writing music my number one concern is how it makes me "feel". In my busy life, my writing time is precious. The right music helps me lose myself in the story, evoking the powerful, heartfelt emotions my characters are feeling throughout their story. Maybe it's the same music I listened to with a previous book, to me it doesn't matter. I just plug in my earphones, turn up the volume a bit, and let the emotions roll. Even closing my eyes with the swell of the music, willing my emotions to come forth onto the page.

Silly? Maybe. But it works for me.

What about you? Are you a silence is golden writer? Wild, rock n roll kinda chick? Or a swelling, love story soundtrack player?

Share your thoughts, music preferences and recommendations. I'm actually on the road, traveling half way across the country to take my oldest to college, so I may not be able to reply until late tonight, or maybe even Friday late afternoon.

But I WILL reply. I'm anxious to hear what you guys listen to, and especially if you have any recommendations.

Let's hear what you have to say....


At 8:35 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I'm a silence is golden kind of writer. In fact, I turn on a fan, a loud fan and that blocks out all other sounds and allows my muse to flow...uninterrupted. :)

Have fun with your daughter, Pris!

At 8:35 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

I am a soundtrack gal in that I create a soundtrack for each book. It's part of my prewriting, and yes, it takes some time and a few dollars at iTunes, but it pays off. I play the soundtrack when I'm writing, when I'm thinking about the story, and eventually it drops me right into the story so I don't need to warm up.

Something I discovered recently is that I can get into the emotions of the characters by listening to the songs. I chose the songs with the characters in mind, generally their feelings at the beginning of the story. So if I listen to the emotions portrayed in the songs, it helps me get into the emotions of the characters a bit better.

Sometimes I use instrumental soundtracks just as white noise to blot out the TV or whatever, but usually I can write with that on, too.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Wow, Mary, a soundtrack for each book! That's amazing to me. Almost like having a vision board for your story, but with music instead. Interesting...

At 8:43 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

I do collages, too.

The hardest soundtrack for me was for my Wayback Rodeo story. I'm not a country fan, so I had to listen to the country stations to get ideas of what I wanted. I'm now a big Brad Paisley and Dixie Chicks fan ;)

My WIP is about 2 estranged archaeologists and the first song is "Doesn't Remind Me" by Audioslave. I also have "How You Remind Me." I think that's Nickelback. And "It's Been Awhile" by Staind (which my dh had to tell me was about heroin - very romantic, thank you, honey.)

For the book that I love that I wrote this spring I used the PS I Love You soundtrack, mixed with "Santa Monica" by Everclear and "Something to Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Janet Mullany said...

Choral music for hot love scenes. I don't know why, it's fairly pervy really. Mozart's Requiem and Handel's Messiah just really get things going for me.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Choral music for love scenes? You are perving, Janet, yet somehow this suits you :-)

I use music on and off. I've just put all my CDs onto my computer and Ipod so listening to music is a lot easier than it used to be and I'm learning to appreciate it again. I have lots of music from the Regency period so that helps inspire me.

Before I began writing, but when I knew I would, I plotted a whole book to the music of Holst's The Planets. I loved that story, although it was totally anachonistic and would never sell.

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Mo H said...

I'm like Theresa, I like the silence for writing. But I do listen to music while exercising. What I pick depends on what book or character I'm focused on. When I was working on a historical set around the war of 1812, I played and replayed the soundtrack to Les Miserables, which was about a different time and country, but it spoke to the emotions of some of my characters. Right now I seem to be listening to NPR when I exercise. Not sure what that means about my WIP!

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Silence is golden, although I have used songs before writing, to evoke a certain mood. I can write in a coffee shop or library, where there are people talking around me, as long as they're not too interesting.

Mary, I like that you train yourself to write when you hear the music. That's usefully Pavlovian. ;]

They used a heroin song in Shrek II. I think it's called Everyone Sleeps, and there's some line like, "better put the old horse down." Horse is a nickname for heroin.

Janet: OMG, now I have to try that with Angel Joe. That DOES sound pervy.

Diane: I grew up listening to The Planets! Love it! I think John Williams was probably pretty influenced by those pieces when he wrote the Star Wars soundtrack. Although I seem to remember some Prokofiev influence, as well.

It's all us Noodlers this morning, huh?

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Oh, Mary, I love your taste in music. And I never thought about it before, but it does have a Pavlovian way of dropping you into the story. I've never made an individualized soundtrack before, but I wrote one story to The Wallflowers "Red Letter Days" CD. To hear a track from that CD still puts me right back into that story. Audioslave is a favorite when I wrote my last vampire. Going to have to find some hard rock for the next one. Maybe some Velvet Revolver. Man, I wish the Stone Temple Pilots were still together. Or the Canadian band Big Wreck. Maybe I could check out Wolfmother. Any suggestions for me? I'm looking for hardcore (but updated) rock, but not crossing over too much into the brute force of the death metal/thrash metal my daughter listens to. :-)

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Delle Jacobs said...

I love my music, but sometimes it's too distracting for me. I've always found music so compelling that I don't want to do anything but listen to it.

But sometimes I have music on. Usually its anachronistic to what I'm writing because I love later 19th Century music most. But I often listen to Celtic music when writing medievals. Loreena MacKinnett is a fsvorite for me.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Norah, most of my new music comes from Grey's Anatomy and Veronica Mars :) I'm not the gal to ask!

At 1:39 PM, Anonymous Lisa Hendrix said...

For me, it's a book soundtrack, no words—something that creates the setting and mood. For instance, right now, I'm writing medieval paranormal (again) so it's Gregorian chants, O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, early English songs, etc.

I also have a General Writing playlist (let's hear it for iTunes), that I use to get a jumpstart when I'm not in the mood to write. I've played it so much during past books that it throws me right into that writing place.


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