My creative space: Words with music

The space I was mostly creative in this week was actually curled up on a mate’s couch busting out some crochet moves (and after that it was all about Twilight – which is now, thankfully, finished) but I didn’t take a photo so instead I thought I would snap my favourite (creative tool) combination right now; my laptop and my earbuds. Phil gave me a membership to emusic for Valentines Day, and then a gift voucher from iTunes to supplement it so I have been finally catching up with eons of good music, with a special interest in music which is good to write to. I am definitely of the school of people who find some appropriately ambient music extremely useful for inspiration.

I love to write to music. It makes it all happen in my head.

Just this morning I tried a little experiment. I took a scene I had already written, one where a certain gentleman and a certain woman meet for the first time. He’s delivering firewood and is wearing muddy boots which he has to shuck off at the door. She’s in her pajamas and wearing slippers. I think I originally wrote it while listening to Another side of Bob Dylan. I could smell the wood smoke, see the blush in her cheeks. Firing up iTunes, I reread it and played a Sigor Ros song… suddenly the scene needs to be much more epic and sweeping. Get rid of the slippers! More brooding looks! More allusions to a deep connection from childhood! The next song is a poppy little number from Simone Rubi with a slight disco beat and everything needs to be funnier, more flippant. More light remarks about the unlikely attraction to such a hulking mountain man especially when she is wearing some kind of slinky dressing-gown. I skip to a Sondre Lerche song from the Dan in Real Life soundtrack and the slippers are back, and while everything is cheerful, awkwardness pervades and cups of tea are slopped on the table, confidence slips, throats are cleared nervously. Actually, axe the Sondre Lerche, as it is way too distracting. Back on to some cool electronica beats which match my typing speed.

So, you see it takes me quite a long time to shuffle through my music to find the perfect music to make the perfect scene. Some might call it procrastination (and an expensive excuse to buy music). I call it necessary inspiration.

Do you write to music or do you prefer the sweet sounds of silence? 
If you do use music, what do you listen to? Maybe I can add yours to my playlist.

Some links:

Kate’s Book Blog – discussion about writing to music.

She links to Largehearted Boy who interviews authors about the playlists which might accompany their books.

Thanks for Kirsty for hosting My Creative Space again this week.

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15 Responses

  1. Kirsty says:

    I loved this post.When I used to run with music it absolutely had an impact on the pace…I guess it’s the same with writing.

    Especially loved the “beats which match my typing speed”. Wonderful.

  2. Anna says:

    I write to classical music – calm, lovely, and no lyrics, which is the most important thing. If I’m writing to a song I like (and I like most of my music, unsuprisingly) I sing along or type out the lyrics by mistake.Debussy is my favourite, but I have a few great compilations (Baroque at Bathtime, 100 Piano classics etc) that are also really good 🙂

    If I’m not in a classical mood, I listen to stuff that is nice and choral and instrumental – Fleet Foxes, My Friend the Chocolate Cake, some early Death Cab for Cutie sometimes.

  3. Cristy says:

    Sadly I need silence. Working would be more fun if I could listen to music, but I just find it distracting.Maybe I would feel differently if I was writing fiction rather than my PhD. I hope so.

  4. Kellie says:

    Wow – that’s really interesting. (Maybe you can claim the music as a tax deduction?)

  5. Prue says:

    While I don’t write much (apart from blogging) I paint to music (lots of different types, but particularly baroque) or the radio (I really like listening to James Valentine on 702 because he’s such an endearing nerd/funny guy). Apparently if it is essential to your work you are able to claim the cost of the music, depreciation on the CD player/ipod, and the electricity used to run it… or so they told me at Uni…

  6. Jhoanna says:

    I’m completely with you on this! I always have music playing whether it’s sewing/crafting, driving, reading, even at work (where I need to use a pair of covert ear-buds). I find music provides me with inspiration and energy when sewing/crafting and makes the blandest of tasks interesting and bearable. I used to study for exams at Uni listening to music :-)Like Kellie, I wish it was tax deductible 🙂

  7. Estelle says:

    I don’t know how you do it!I need sacred silence otherwise SOMEBODY’S GONNA GET IT when I write.

    But I agree with Kirsty, thumping techno makes the legs go faster.

  8. Cassandra says:

    Ah yeah my old mate Bob! 1960’s Dylan, yeah, art school memories, ahhh. Going to sing along to Bob while I draw today. Thanks so much for reminding me, it’s been too long.Some days I have to have silence though, depends.

  9. Meg says:

    It’s a funny thing.When I write at home, I need absolute silence. But if I’m writing on my laptop at a caf, I don’t mind noise.

    When I bushwalk each morning I listen to podcasts.I sleep with earplugs in.When I’m driving I like to listen to the same song on the CD player over and over.When I do house work I like to have my iPod on shuffle.

  10. Dianna says:

    All I ever write these days is papers for uni, and most stuff’s too distracting for me. I tend to put on Sigur Rs, Mm, Amiina. the Album Leaf, American Analog Set (and the Wooden Birds). Sometimes Bjrk.Iceland is obviously a common theme in my work music…

    If you’re needing something poppy, might I recommend:

  11. green ink says:

    I really enjoy writing to music – mostly classical or instrumental. One of my favourite composers to listen to while writing is Yann Tiersen – who wrote the Amelie soundtrack. Beautiful.

  12. theresa says:

    Music is the very thing to stir the soul; especially when creating! I totally believe in the power of the notes. Last night, I was at a bookstore, laptop in hand, earbuds in the other as I pounded out the first few paragraphs and an outlne for my autobiography~memoir.Music is what inspired my latest two attempts at children’s books which I am about to send off into the world and music is what I need a daily dose of these days just to get through another day.

    It makes the untangible, tangible. The unconscious, conscious.

    I listen to just about anything. My favorite source is the over 4000 itune selections Johnny left me on his computer.

  13. What a great idea! My mood is so easily swayed by music, I can’t believe I’ve never thought to use it as a ‘style shifter’.I tend to listen to jazz with no vocals (Mcgann : Playground is great). For some reason it helps me focus which is quite bizarre really. Some jazz tracks can sound quite confused.

  14. Naomi says:

    It’s nice to hear someone else talk about the writing/music/mood triangle. There was a cafe down the road from where I live that often went to to write – they always played the same music, and it was perfect for writing to. I was down there so often that the cafe owner eventually offered me a job … I worked there for a year until they closed the cafe down. When I left, the cafe owner gave me the stack of CDs! One of the most helpful gifts anyone has ever given me.

  15. Clebs says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one!I can ONLY write if I have music on…

    But I’m even a little more extreme. At the moment, writing my current novel, I can ONLY write when I’m listening to ‘Any Other Name’ by Thomas Newman. I listen to it on repeat, never get bored of it, and it kind of becomes the theme for my characters and the whimsical life that they leave. To be honest, I kind of slip into a trance, and am utterly surprised when I surface after 3 hours of Newman on repeat and a good 7,000 words behind me (not saying they’re all GREAT though…)

    I’m so glad you blogged about this. Its a phenomenon that isn’t widely talked about… 🙂

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